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Urban Meyer turns reins over to Braxton Miller as Ohio State outlasts Wisconsin

Ohio State quarterback BraxtMiller drops back pass against Wisconsduring second quarter an NCAA college football game Saturday Sept. 28 2013

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller drops back to pass against Wisconsin during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Cue sappy music and a montage of Kenny Guiton highlights from Ohio State’s soft out-of-conference schedule. The fifth-year senior’s bid to share snaps with Braxton Miller officially ended Saturday when the Buckeyes defeated ­Wisconsin 31-24 at home.

It lasted about as long as Jimmy Carter’s bid for re-election.

Coach Urban Meyer said in the week leading up to the game that he would play both quarterbacks — and he did. He just wasn’t clear that Guiton would see all his reps as the Buckeyes’ holder on field goals. His grasp on that job is nearly as tight as Miller’s grip on the starting-quarterback spot.

According to reports, Miller and Guiton were listed as co-starters heading into the game.

“If [Miller] was healthy [he was going to be the starter],” Meyer said. “I’d like to get Kenny in the game, just in the moment it didn’t happen.

“Thursday, what I saw then there was no doubt he was going to be our starter.”

Not that it wasn’t the prudent move by Meyer. If Ohio State could take anything from Saturday night’s game, it’s that the team’s success will rest on its offense.

Its defense is average at best and Wisconsin isn’t even the best offense on the Buckeyes’ schedule. That will come next week when Ohio State plays Northwestern in Evanston.

But the Badgers were able to dissect Ohio State’s defense for 399 yards, much of that credited to wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, who got the better of his matchup with All-American cornerback Bradley Roby.

Considering its underwhelming defense, the Buckeyes’ offense can’t afford to be saddled by Gution’s limitations — at least as they are compared to Miller — in the running game. Though the offense might be more inconsistent with Miller under center, its potential is greater.

Guiton is a marginally better passer, but enough so that it will cause a quarterback controversy heading into this week’s game against the Wildcats.

Despite four passing touchdowns, Miller played poorly throughout. On three occasions in the first half, Miller threw behind his receiver.

That gave Meyer a perfect excuse — or opportunity — to test Guiton against arguably the best defense in the Big Ten. But Miller’s ability as a runner clearly motivated Meyer to keep him in the game despite the junior’s struggles in the passing game.

Miller vindicated Meyer with his feet plenty of times.

“My legs felt good energy-wise,” Miller said. “I wasn’t out of shape.

“It’s a coaches’ decision. I worked hard in practice. Me and Kenny, we just have a different relationship and so it’s all in the coaches’ hands.”

During a game in which Miller became the all-time leading rusher amongst Ohio State quarterbacks, he proved his value with his ability to elude defenders and extend plays.

Guiton doesn’t to that, which stymies an element the offense desperately needs if it hopes to score with the country’s best attacks.


Twitter: @SethGruen

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