Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller is reportedly set to miss the entire 2014 season due to a shoulder injury. According to colleague Jeremy Fowler, Miller is set to meet with the doctors this afternoon and, while nothing is official yet, many around the program are "fearing the worst."
Miller is the reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and the most important player in the Buckeyes offense, but the team is still good enough to contend for a league title if he misses the entire season. As it stands now, keeping Ohio State in contention for the College Football Playoff will likely be in the hands of redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett.
Las Vegas has already reacted to the reported news, dropping Ohio State's national title odds from 12/1 to 50/1. That puts the Buckeyes on the same line as teams like Michigan and Texas; College Football Playoff dark horses according to some. But Bucknuts, the Ohio State 247Sports site, argues that Barrett could be good enough to avoid a major slide due to Miller's injury.
Barrett is also lauded by his coaches – past and present – for his intelligence and leadership skills. Often described as a “coach on the field” he does a good job of going through his checks, finding the open receiver and distributing the ball.
He's also deceptively-good as a runner. While not a burner by any means (ran a 4.7 40 at an Under Armour combine in January of 2012) Barrett is quick, decisive and has the ability to make people miss. He's put together very well for a quarterback and can lower his shoulder and run defenders over.
Dave Biddle, at Bucknuts, went on to point out that since Miller has missed time during spring practice and fall camp, Barrett has gotten more reps with the first-team offense. The redshirt freshman was also the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback in the country coming out of high school, so the coaching staff should not have to alter the offense too much.
Ohio State also benefits from a schedule that could keep the Buckeyes in contention until Barrett gets settled. The Buckeyes have to travel to East Lansing to face Michigan State on Nov. 8, but Penn State, Maryland and Virginia Tech are the toughest opponents until that rematch of the 2013 Big Ten title game.