Why Ohio State's Miller Will Win a Third Silver Football in 2014
The Silver Football is an award distributed by The Chicago Tribune to the top college football player in the Big Ten at the end of each season. Each team’s head coach fills out a ballot with their first-place and second-place vote, and they are not allowed to vote for a player from their own team. Miller received 9-of-12 first-place votes, winning the award by a landslide.
Miller joins Minnesota quarterback Paul Giel, Indiana running back Anthony Thompson, and Ohio State running back Archie Griffin (I’m told he won a few other awards too) as the only players to ever win the Silver Football award twice. Neither Giel, Thompson, or even the great Archie Griffin were able to bring home the award three times.
So now that we know Miller is officially returning to Columbus for his senior season this fall, what is the likelihood he becomes the first player in Big Ten history to win three Silver Footballs? It’s high. Very high.
For starters, the only two other players to appear on multiple coaches ballots (Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland and Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde) will both be playing on Sundays this fall. Other notable impact players in the Big Ten from last year, such as Jared Abbrederis, Allen Robinson, James White, and Taylor Martinez (just kidding) are gone as well, making the pool of competition Braxton is facing awfully slim.
Based on history (and a little bit of logic), we can also expect Miller to have a much better season in 2014 than he did in 2013. Each season he has been at Ohio State, he has improved his completion percentage, yards, yards-per-completion, touchdowns, and QB rating, even despite playing last season with a bad right shoulder (which he just had surgery on this past week).
Don’t get me wrong: Miller still has a long way to go as a passer if he wants to be under center on Sundays come 2015. But another full offseason under Urban Meyer’s wing can only help him improve as a passer, and as a leader even more. Add in the expected increase in rushing due to Hyde’s departure to the NFL, and Miller should be primed for a monster season this fall.
The biggest threat to a Braxton three-peat is more than likely going to be Wisconsin junior running back Melvin Gordon. Anybody who’s seen the highlights of this kid knows he’s a special talent. Last year, he split carries in the Badger backfield with James White. With White headed for the NFL, almost all of the carries this season will go to Gordon and his 7.8 YPC, making it very possible for him to assert himself as a legitimate candidate as the Big Ten’s top player.
With that being said, winning goes a very long way, especially for a quarterback. With another Top-10 recruiting class coming to Columbus, and the return of their superstar senior quarterback, the Buckeyes will almost certainly once again be the preseason favorite in the Big Ten.
I fully expect even better production from Braxton through the air and on the ground to go along with another double-digit win season for the Buckeyes. That should be more than enough to make history and become the first ever three-time Silver Football winner. And maybe, just maybe, it will be enough to land an invite to New York come December.