When Braxton Miller limped off the field just seven plays into the Ohio State vs. San Diego State game Saturday afternoon, Buckeyes fans everywhere saw their national title hopes slipping away.
Reserve quarterback Kenny Guiton and a stingy defense spent the rest of the afternoon making reassurances that Ohio State is a legitimate BCS title contender regardless of who lines up behind center.
Under Guiton's guidance, Ohio State piled up 309 total yards of offense and 35 points in a shut-out first-half. The defense was just as dominant, limiting the Aztecs to 54 yards of offense.
The Buckeyes hit cruise control in the final two quarters and coasted to an easy 35-point victory.
Ohio State, of course, is a much bigger threat to dethrone the SEC with Miller at the helm, but with the way the Buckeyes responded after he went down, it's hard to imagine Ohio State losing sight of "The Chase."
Guiton, who earned a team captain role despite being a backup, is a big reason why.
The 6'3", 208-pound senior doesn't have the strongest arm or the speed that makes Miller one of the most dangerous players in the country, but his poise and leadership is a huge asset on the field.
“He has all the intangibles that you could ask for as a leader and as a quarterback,” offensive coordinator Tom Herman said, according to ElevenWarriors.com. “He knows the offense inside and out, and he’s a coach on the field."
Guiton puts that on display every chance he gets.
It started last year against Michigan State when Miller was forced to the sideline after taking a big hit on a quarterback run. Guiton came in and calmly capped Ohio State's touchdown drive, which was something he repeated in the following two games against Nebraska and Indiana.
His crowning moment, though, came against Purdue when he orchestrated a comeback for the ages.
Once again, Guiton had come to the rescue when his team needed him, proving that he is one of college football's greatest insurance policies.
That—coupled with a defense coming into its own—should put Ohio State fans at ease, even though it doesn't appear that Miller will miss significant time.
Meyer praises the "old right-hander" for relief effort, says Miller should be back against Cal— Dave Briggs (@DBriggsBlade) September 7, 2013
Corey Brown, who caught five of Guiton's passes for 68 yards and two touchdowns, has a lot of confidence in Ohio State's backup quarterback, according to OhioStateBuckeyes.com.
He is one of the leaders of our team. Everyone on the team knows what we are getting when he comes into the game, a lot of confidence and a lot of swagger. When Kenny is out there, nobody is worried at all.
Regardless of who's commanding the ship, Ohio State's offense is in good hands. And because of that, the Buckeyes' dreams of a BCS title bid are still alive.
All stats via ESPN.com.
David Regimbal is the Ohio State Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report.
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.
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