EAST LANSING, Mich. -- The clock was ticking down after one last snap, and the celebration was already starting around Braxton Miller.
Battered and bruised, exhausted and twice injured during the game that was finally ending, the Ohio State sophomore wouldn't let go of the football.
So it stayed right where the Buckeyes want it, locked in his hands for better or worse.
His teammates swarmed around him, the cameras came crushing in and the well-wishers kept coming up to pat Miller on the back. But he simply wouldn't let go of the prized possession Ohio State had entrusted to him on a sunny Saturday at Spartan Stadium.
At one point Miller set the ball down on the 34-yard line to do a quick television interview after wrapping up a 17-16 win on the road over Michigan State and the best defense in the Big Ten, though he quickly scooped it back up before walking slowly to join the band, the veteran players and a coach who smiled and wrapped an arm around his shoulder and dragged him to the front of the party.
Miller might have been a bit loose with that ball at times during the 60-minute grind before that, but Urban Meyer again left little doubt that his team is going as far as the multipurpose quarterback can take it.
"The toughness -- man, he's banged up," the Buckeyes coach said. "He's banged up, but he just kept coming back, kept coming back."