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Big Ten rankings: No. 1, Braxton Miller

2/25/2013

The postseason top 25 player rankings have reached the summit. Your final reminder: these rankings are based solely on performance during the 2012 season.

Our pick for the Big Ten's top player blossomed at quarterback for the Big Ten's best team last season. His next task is to take Ohio State all the way to ...

No. 1: Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State, sophomore, 6-foot-2, 220 pounds

Preseason ranking: No. 19

2012 numbers: 227 rushes for 1,271 yards and 13 touchdowns; completed 148 of 254 pass attempts (58.3 percent) for 2,039 yards with 15 touchdowns and six interceptions; averaged 275.8 yards of total offense per game.

Why he's here: Miller wasn't the only reason Ohio State ran the table in 2012, but he carried the team early and continued to sparkle during Big Ten play as the entire Scarlet and Gray operation came together. The sophomore backed up the big talk from coach Urban Meyer, who in July called Miller "the most dynamic athlete I've ever coached," and continued to make big plays week after week. He seamlessly fit Meyer's offense en route to earning Big Ten Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year honors.

Miller's athleticism certainly jumped out as he recorded six 100-yard rushing performances, including 186 yards against Nebraska, a team single-game record for quarterback rushing. He had 14 runs of 20 yards or more and four runs of 55 yards or more. Miller eclipsed 135 rush yards in five of the first seven games this past fall, putting himself very much in the mix for the Heisman Trophy. His natural playmaking skills jumped out as a freshman, even though he lacked experience and a functional offense, and he took things to the next level.

Ohio State's offensive line came together during Big Ten play, and other weapons like Carlos Hyde emerged around Miller, but the quarterback made the offense go early on, especially when the Buckeyes were struggling defensively. Even later in the season, when Miller's production dropped off, he made impact plays like this that left everyone buzzing. Miller's passing numbers don't jump off of the page and he'll need to improve his accuracy going forward, but he stretched the field well, as receiver Devin Smith averaged 20.8 yards per reception.

The sophomore earned the Chicago Tribune's Silver Football Award as Big Ten MVP and finished fifth in the Heisman voting. He was a finalist for the Davey O'Brien award and claimed the Big Ten's Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year award. He'll enter 2013 as one of the top candidates for the Heisman as he leads an Ohio State team that many expect to contend for the national championship.

We've never had a player end up No. 1 in the postseason countdown in consecutive seasons, but Miller certainly has a chance.

The countdown

No. 25: Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan

No. 24: Michael Carter, CB, Minnesota

No. 23: Kain Colter, QB, Northwestern

No. 22: Spencer Long, G, Nebraska

No. 21: Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State

No. 20: Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska

No. 19: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

No. 18: Mike Taylor, LB, Wisconsin

No. 17: Jake Ryan, LB, Michigan

No. 16: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State

No. 15: Max Bullough, LB, Michigan State

No. 14: Matt McGloin, QB, Penn State

No. 13: Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin

No. 12: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State

No. 11: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State

No. 10: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State

No. 9: Venric Mark, RB, Northwestern

No. 8: Jordan Hill, DT, Penn State

No. 7: Taylor Lewan, LT, Michigan

No. 6: Le'Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State

No. 5: Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska

No. 4: John Simon, DE, Ohio State

No. 3: Michael Mauti, LB, Penn State

No. 2: Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin