Points Over Pints: Miller Kills Buckeyes' QB Controversy
By Joe Jenkins
This Week’s Beer
Black and Tan.
A few weeks ago, we mentioned that as the weather changes, proper beer decorum mandates you move on to a heavier beer. Here in the Northeast we’re smack dab in the middle of two seasons. There are moments that still feel like summer, but there’s a bite of autumn when the breeze kicks up. It can make choosing a beer an arduous task.
Enter the Black and Tan: A half-pint of Guinness that seems to defy logic and science as it floats gracefully atop a half-pint of Bass Ale — or Harp if you’d rather not deal with the whole English/Irish quagmire.
The Black and Tan is a libation designed for the beer connoisseur that isn’t sure about a dark, heavy beer or a nice golden ale/lager, but they do know that they want it to be visually appealing.
What starts as a little bit of everything ultimately mixes together into a delicious muddled mess, kind of like autumn in the Northeast — or the last weekend in September in college football.
Conference play got under way, but there was still a number of out of conference mismatches.
Ohio State had an “athletic” quarterback coming back from injury, a “distributor” that set school records in his absence and a coach who said he wanted to see both of them in the game on Saturday morning.
As for USC? Well...
...muddled mess might be a compliment for the dumpster fire taking place in Los Angeles right now.
Before we get carried away, let's tip back that Black and Tan and take a look at the week that was in college football.
The First Sips
There were a few marquee matchups this week, but Ohio State took center stage with a big conference matchup against Wisconsin and a polarizing quarterback controversy between Braxton Miller and Kenny Guiton.
That was Saturday. Urban Meyer woke up Sunday with all of his quarterback questions answered and a 31-24 win in one of the most difficult games on the schedule.
Miller may not have put himself back in the Heisman race, but his 281 combined passing and rushing yards and four touchdowns let it be known that he should be running the Buckeyes offense. He was accurate, completing 68 percent of his passes, and he didn't turn the ball over.
If Meyer was sitting at a blackjack table, he'd be on one of the biggest heaters of all time. He's 17-0 since taking over in Columbus and when faced with the hardest personnel decision of his tenure, he made the right call.
Now for the bad news: If there’s a tough patch to be found on the Buckeyes schedule, they’re in the middle of it. OSU has an even tougher matchup next week when they travel to Northwestern.
• Georgia’s Aaron Murray now is a regular “Joe Cool” in games against ranked opponents. The Bulldogs' quarterback was stellar in beating LSU, 44-41. He threw for 298 yards and four touchdowns, including the game-winner with less than two minutes to play. Not bad for a guy who couldn’t win the big one coming into this year. He’s now 2-1 against ranked opponents in 2013.
• Going into Alabama’s matchup against Ole Miss this week, some Crimson Tide faithful didn’t feel the team was dominating the country the way they should. Nick Saban’s squad was plenty convincing against the Rebels on Saturday, surrendering only 46 yards on the ground en route to a 25-0 win.
• If you’re looking to keep a 3-2 program in the national spotlight, a good way to do it is to fire your coach in a memorable way. USC head coach Lane Kiffin was pulled off the team bus by athletic director Pat Hayden following the Trojans' 62-41 beatdown by Arizona State and given his walking papers. Hayden didn’t even offer Kiffin the courtesy of a lift home. No word if cab fare was part of the severance package.
• The most exciting quarterback that nobody is talking about in the FBS is Old Dominion’s Taylor Heinicke. In the Monarchs' transition season playing at college football’s highest level, the junior signal-caller has completed 74 percent of his passes for 1,638 yards, 12 touchdowns and an ESPN total QBR of 90.7, fifth-highest in the country.
• There are two undefeated teams in the SEC: Alabama and Missouri. Yes, the same Missouri that only won five games last year. Don’t get too excited yet, Tigers fans. Mizzou’s next four opponents are Vanderbilt, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. This team could be 4-4 come November.
The Last Gulp
We’ve reached the last few sips of our Black and Tan, so it's time to make a toast to a coaching decision that made us want to reach for the hard liquor.
Here’s to you, Dana Holgerson. Your West Virginia team claimed the biggest upset of the weekend by beating Oklahoma State 31-20, but with your team clinging to a lead late in the fourth quarter, you called plays that made it seem like you were playing for overtime.
With more than seven minutes remaining in the game, I applauded you for continuing to run your up-tempo offense as you normally would. I’m always a firm believer in keeping your players in their comfort zone.
You lost me when you continued to run plays with 17 seconds left on the play clock with only three minutes left in the game and a six-point lead. A seven-play drive should take more than 1:56 off the clock when you’re trying to end a game. Yes, the drive resulted in another field goal, but it also left more than 90 seconds for the Cowboys to try and work a miracle.
So congrats on the big win, Coach Holgerson. Have a cold one on us, but please remember to take your time.
• USC’s Marqise Lee suffered a knee injury on a punt return against Arizona State and did not return to the game.
• Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon left the game against Ohio State with a knee injury and didn’t return.
• Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas suffered an ankle injury on the opening kickoff. He did not return to the game.
• Georgia running back Todd Gurley rolled his ankle against LSU. He’s listed as “day-to-day.”
• South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw sprained his shoulder against UCF. He’s expected to miss 2-3 weeks.