Many wondered coming into the matchup with Wisconsin if starting quarterback Braxton Miller after a nearly three game hiatus was a good idea, especially after the stellar play of backup Kenny Guiton in his place. Any doubts of who should be the starting quarterback were silenced Saturday night in Columbus. Miller finished the night with four touchdown passes and 281 total yards leading the Buckeyes passed the Badgers 31-24 in the Horseshoe. Let’s take a look back at some of Miller’s touchdown passes in this week’s Buckeye Empire Big Play Breakdown.
25 Yard Touchdown Pass- Miller to Evan Spencer
With Miller back in the starting lineup for the Buckeyes, the threat of the run game became much more of a concern for the Badgers. That said, the play-action game for Ohio State was a vital part of their win Saturday night. It was prevalent throughout the game and led to their first score of the game. Miller and the Buckeyes lined up in a pistol formation with running back Carlos Hyde lined up directly behind the star quarterback. Miller turned and faked to Hyde which brought the safety up and essentially took him out of the play. It left receivers Corey Brown and Evan Spencer with only one defender between them. Spencer ran a skinny post while Brown ran a wheel route from his slot receiver position. The corner Sojourn Shelton, was running with Spencer but saw Brown take off down the sideline. When Shelton saw this, he opened his hips which gave Spencer enough time to create separation. Miller saw it, made the correct read and fired his first touchdown of the game as the Buckeyes took a 7-0 lead.
26 Yard Touchdown Pass- Miller to Devin Smith
Devin Smith has a knack for making plays against the Badgers, and Saturday was no different. We all fondly remember the miracle catch Smith made against Wisconsin in 2011, but his touchdown catch from Miller on Saturday was even more impressive. Miller again lined up in the pistol formation with Hyde behind him. Smith was being covered one on one with a lone corner and Miller recognized it from the snap. Smith put a double move on the corner that bit on a post and Miller threw a back-shoulder fade to Smith. The pass was a laser and hit Smith right on the numbers for a touchdown and the Buckeyes retook the lead.
On fourth and seven from the Wisconsin 40 yard line with just seconds before the half, Miller fired a laser down field for Brown. Brown had beaten the safety straight down the field while the corner followed Chris Fields to the sideline on a deep out route. Miller scrambled to his left and threw his third touchdown pass of the evening which was eerily similar to the miracle of 2011. It was the only touchdown pass of the night in which Miller did not utilize a play action fake. Brown would catch one more score on the night, a short one yard catch from Miller who was spectacular in his return from a knee injury. The Buckeyes will need more spectacular play from Miller and his receiving core as they take on the Wildcats of Northwestern this weekend in yet another nationally televised game.