Print and Go Back Big Ten [Print without images]

Monday, February 25, 2013
Big Ten rankings: No. 1, Braxton Miller

By Adam Rittenberg

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

Braxton Miller
Braxton Miller threw 15 touchdown passes last season.
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. 25Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan
No. 24Michael Carter, CB, Minnesota
No. 23Kain Colter, QB, Northwestern
No. 22Spencer Long, G, Nebraska
No. 21: Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
No. 20: Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
No. 19Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
No. 18Mike Taylor, LB, Wisconsin
No. 17: Jake Ryan, LB, Michigan
No. 16: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
No. 15: Max Bullough, LB, Michigan State
No. 14Matt McGloin, QB, Penn State
No. 13: Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin
No. 12Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
No. 11: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
No. 10Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
No. 9Venric Mark, RB, Northwestern
No. 8Jordan Hill, DT, Penn State
No. 7Taylor Lewan, LT, Michigan
No. 6: Le'Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State
No. 5: Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska
No. 4John Simon, DE, Ohio State
No. 3Michael Mauti, LB, Penn State
No. 2: Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin