Braxton Miller Keeps The Buckeyes’ BCS Hopes Alive

Both Ohio State and Florida State faced their toughest competition all season in Rivalry Week, though only the Buckeyes nearly saw their BCS dreams dashed.

FSU only managed three points in the opening quarter, and Jameis Winston even threw an — gasp — interception. That was just about all the drama in that game, though, as the Seminoles got going in the second and Florida kept doing Florida things. 

As FSU comfortably wrapped up a 37-7 win, Ohio State was exchanging blows and staring down an upset in the Big House. A brawl erupted to start the second quarter, resulting in three ejections. Emotions were running high, and  Marcus Hall gave the Michigan crowd two birds on his way out.

At that point, the Buckeyes were down and losing composure. Without facing much competition or truly close games this season, it became an immediate threat to Urban Meyer's undefeated tenure at OSU. 

The Buckeyes quickly turned things around courtesy of Braxton Miller, who ran for two scores and threw a 22-yard score to Jeff Heuerman to take what looked like a commanding 35-21 lead after Michigan fumbled and failed a fourth and two conversion.

What looked like one too many mistakes for the Wolverines turned out to be the rebirth of consistency. They drove on Ohio State throughout the third and fourth quarter, and a fumble from the otherwise incredible Carlos Hyde, who Meyer called, "one of the best he's been around" in the postgame interview with ESPN, allowed Michigan back into the game. This time, Devin Gardner converted a fourth and two before throwing a touchdown pass to Jake Butt, tying the game at 35. 

Still, Michigan struggled defensively, and Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde quickly drove down the field for another touchdown. With 2:20 left in the game, Gardner methodically drove Michigan down the field. Devin Funchess, who missed a few opportunities for big plays throughout the game, caught a touchdown with 32 seconds left. What looked like the game-tying score was not to be, as Michigan, as they had all game, avoided the kicking game with starting kicker Brendan Gibbons out injured. Coach Brady Hoke put it all on the line with a two-point conversion, but Gardner threw a pick. The ensuing onside kick failed, and the state of Ohio collectively exhaled. 

Even with a win, the Buckeyes may have blown their shot at the BCS. If Alabama beats Auburn, it seems unlikely that Ohio State could leapfrog Florida State, who face Duke in the ACC Championship. OSU needed to prove their dominance against a weaker Michigan to state their case. Now they will have to strong-arm No. 11 Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship to have a shot. That, however, is out of their control, and will need to focus on the Spartans next week to have a chance.