What a difference one play can make.
From the moment that Braxton Miller announced he was returning to Ohio State for his senior season on Jan. 9, 2014 at 7:37 p.m., the Buckeyes were considered national title contenders for the 2014 season.
For more than seven months, fans in Columbus prepared to rewrite the Ohio State record book with Miller’s name in it. Seven months of measuring the Buckeyes up against reigning Big Ten champion Michigan State. Seven months of preparing for the first-ever College Football Playoff.
Those seven months came to a screeching halt and proved to be null and void on Aug. 18, when a seven-yard pass attempt in Ohio State’s afternoon practice ended with the Heisman-hopeful signal-caller tearing the labrum in his throwing shoulder—an injury that will cost Miller the entirety of the 2014 season.
While Miller’s pursuit of virtually every OSU offensive record has been put on hold—he says he intends to return to the Buckeyes as a fifth-year senior in 2015—Ohio State’s 2014 season appears to have lost a lot of its luster.
No longer do all roads lead to a Nov. 8 date in East Lansing, Michigan—which was supposed to host a de facto Big Ten East championship game between the Buckeyes and Spartans—and gone are realistic expectations for Ohio State to be playing in a national semifinal game on New Year’s Day.
But what the Buckeyes’ 2014 campaign lost in optimism, it now makes up for in intrigue. While a Big Ten title and…