INDIANAPOLIS -- Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller began the season as a top Heisman Trophy candidate. He could end it the same way.
Miller likely can't win the Heisman on Saturday night against Michigan State in the Big Ten championship -- Florida State's Jameis Winston appears to be a lock -- but he could earn an invitation to New York for the trophy presentation. Who will join Winston in the Big Apple? Candidates such as Alabama's AJ McCarron, Fresno State's Derek Carr and Northern Illinois' Jordan Lynch all have had their teams lose critical games in recent days.
Miller hasn't lost a game in two seasons, and he collected his second consecutive Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year award on Tuesday. Although a knee injury and some shaky play took him off of the Heisman radar in September, Miller has been brilliant for most of Big Ten play, leading the league with 295 yards of offense per game. He has four runs of 40 yards or longer and has completed 65.7 percent of his passes, ahead of Troy Smith's team record of 65.3 percent set during his Heisman Trophy-winning season in 2006.
Although Ohio State always garners some of the spotlight, the Buckeyes haven't played an opponent this good, or been on a stage this big. If Miller performs well, he will get noticed.
"He'll be as prepared as he's ever been," Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer said this week. "He's been in some big stages, maybe not a championship game or a BCS bowl game yet. I just would anticipate he'll handle it great because usually the brighter the lights, the better he plays."
Michigan State's top-ranked defense will do what it can to subdue Miller and prevent him from having a Heisman moment at Lucas Oil Stadium. But the Spartans are wary of how dangerous Miller can be.
"I see a magician, a guy with a sixth sense, a guy that can take a bad play and make it a very good play, a guy that can create," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. "You can know what Ohio State is doing, be right on top of it, do what you do to stop it that particular time, but he can create and make it a good play."
Someone needs to sit alongside Winston in Times Square. Miller's opportunity to do so comes Saturday night.