Where Would Braxton Miller Fit into Heisman Race Had He Remained Healthy?

Andrew Coppens@@andycoppensContributor INovember 8, 2013

Nov 2, 2013; West Lafayette, IN, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller (5) throws a pass for a touchdown against the Purdue Boilermakers at Ross Ade Stadium. Ohio State defeats Purdue 56-0. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten hasn't had a Heisman Trophy Winner since Ohio State's Troy Smith in 2006. Many thought another Buckeyes quarterback, Braxton Miller, had a good chance of ending that streak this season. 

He was named to many a preseason front-runners list, and after setting the Buckeyes record for most yards from scrimmage in a season in 2012, it was a pretty good bet he would be in the race this season. 

Yet, in Week 2 of the season, Miller would go down with an injury and his Heisman Trophy hopes went down the drain, as he missed the next two games with a sprained knee.

Since returning, though, things have only gotten better for Miller as time has gone on. 

Sep 21, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Kenny Guiton (13) throws a pass during the second quarter against the Florida A&M Rattlers at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

His numbers in conference play have been impressive but just outside the other quarterback contenders for the Heisman Trophy. 

It makes one wonder—what if Miller had stayed healthy this season? 

Would he be a front-runner or would he be right where he's at? 

So, why not look at Miller's season through the prism of "what if?"

What if his healthy averages played out the whole season, or what if Kenny Guiton's numbers were Miller's numbers? 

First, we could simply use his season averages and add them to the missing two-and-three-quarters games. 

Braxton Miller Stats (Full Season based on Averages)
Passing YardsPassing TouchdownsRushing YardsRushing Touchdowns

Not bad numbers, but what if we took Guiton's stats from the time Miller spent out injured (the rest of the San Diego State game and the two full games missed) and added them to Miller's stats so far this season? 

After all, these quarterbacks have very similar games, and the offense didn't change much at all in its appearance with Guiton in.

Miller's Stats (w/ Guiton's numbers from missing games)
Passing YardsPassing TouchdownsRushing YardsRushing Touchdowns

If there was ever a case as to why this offense wasn't any different with Guiton or Miller, it's this breakdown.

The numbers aren't that different at all, but where would Miller stack up to his competition—guys like Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota and Johnny Manziel

Miller's Hesiman Comparison (w/ Guiton's Numbers)
NamePassing Yards/GamePassing TDs/GameCompletion PercentageYards/Game
Braxton Miller217.6371283.2
Marcus Mariota281.22.463.3336.2
Johnny Manziel318.52.872.5381.2
Jameis Winston312.7370.3331.9

As with our examination last week of where Miller stacks up in conference play, the differences are stark, and he clearly doesn't have most of the numbers to win out over Manziel and Winston.

Unlike the comparison of those four players in conference play, the season numbers cannot be broken out to say Miller is doing more with less. 

Taking Guiton's passing numbers from the two-and-three-quarters games Miller missed, Miller would have 243 passing attempts this season. It would be more than Winston and just a bit less than Mariota through nine games. 

What this proves is that while Miller is having a good season, there are simply too many players with far better numbers than Miller, missing games or not. 

His season just doesn't stack up as Heisman worthy, regardless of missing games or not.


*Andy Coppens is the lead writer for the Big Ten. You can follow him on Twitter: @ andycoppens.


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