Miller a Heisman Candidate

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Last updated: 10/30/2012 3:51 AM

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Football
Even Meyer Can’t Deny His QB is Among Heisman Favorites
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Even Urban Meyer can’t deny it any longer.

Braxton Miller
Photo by Jim Davidson
Braxton Miller

Despite his injury scare against Purdue last week, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller is right in the center of the Heisman Trophy race as the calendar turns to November. It’s the month where conference championships will be decided and, in the case of the Buckeyes and five other programs around the nation, potential undefeated seasons could be realized.

“When I get asked a question like you're asking, I give my honest answer,” Meyer said Monday with a sliver of reluctance in his voice.

“Do I believe he's a Heisman candidate? I do. I didn't say that before, but I do believe Braxton is a Heisman candidate.

“He has to play much better. However, just from sheer production on a team that's 9-0, it puts him in that category, and that's without knowing all the other candidates.”

Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein has overtaken West Virginia’s Geno Smith as the far-and-away front-runner to win college football’s most coveted individual award this season.

Like the Buckeyes, the Wildcats are undefeated and ranked among the top teams in the country heading into the final month of the season. Klein padded his Heisman lead with a four-touchdown game against Texas Tech, a team that almost single-handedly knocked Geno Smith off his perch at the top just two weeks earlier.

While he seems to be the top name on everyone’s ballot right now, his numbers are not much different, or better, than Braxton Miller’s. Klein has thrown for 1,630 yards and 12 touchdowns, which compares favorably to Miller’s 1,527 and 12 scores through the air.

Klein (634) has nowhere near the ground game Miller (1,093) has put together this season, but he does have 16 rushing touchdowns to 12 for Ohio State’s sophomore quarterback.

It would be hard to imagine any player in the country with more “Heisman moments” than No. 5 for the scarlet and gray. He might be the only player in the country who can turn a 1-yard touchdown run into a highlight that could rival a Barry Sanders mix tape.

The Heisman Pundit on CBSsports.com still lists Braxton Miller as their No. 4 candidate for Heisman right now, behind Klein, Smith and Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron.

“Miller came back from an injury suffered last week against Purdue to pass for 143 and rush for 134 in a hard-fought win over Penn State. He's doing just enough to stick around the Heisman conversation, but it will take a brilliant last three games for him to get to New York as a finalist.”

The USA TODAY Sports Media Group would appear to disagree with that assessment. It currently has Miller third in the Heisman race behind Klein and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, but ahead of Smith, McCarron and Oregon running back Kenjon Barner.

Miller received seven second-place votes and 11 third-place votes in that weekly survey of official Heisman voters, but Klein received 35 of the 36 possible first-place votes. The other one went to Te’o, who has 80 tackles and five interceptions for the undefeated Fighting Irish.

Despite missing the fourth quarter of the Purdue game, Miller (121.44) is averaging more yards per game on the ground this than any other player in the Big Ten. He is one of only four players to top 1,000 yards rushing so far this season, and no one has more than his 1,093.

In fact, that number is good for fifth nationally, with Northern Illinois’ Jordan Lynch (1,185) being the only quarterback in the country with more yards on the ground this season.

Miller has already set an Ohio State quarterback record with his rushing totals this season, and he is screaming towards the record for total yards in a season. His 1,527 passing yards are fifth most in the Big Ten and his 12 touchdown passes are third behind Matt McGloin and Taylor Martinez.

"You’re asking me because I have a little bit of experience with that award and seeing guys get ready,” Meyer added on Monday.

“Braxton has to play much better, however I believe he’s a candidate.”

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