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Guiton justifies Meyer's faith

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The equations aren't identical, but they're close enough to help Ohio State reach a conclusion.

Just shy of a year ago, the Buckeyes were on the road against an aggressive defense and seemingly in control of the game when Braxton Miller limped to the sideline. With the starting quarterback removed from the formula, the offense collapsed and the lead went with it.

Just less than a week ago, they were on the road again taking on the top defensive unit in the Big Ten when Miller's early success was interrupted by a late hit that required medical attention and kept him off the field. This time, the offense kept right on rolling and actually took a lead with Miller doing nothing but observing.

There are certainly plenty of variables that might make it an imperfect comparison, starting with the fact Miller promptly returned for the next drive after his brief absence last week against Michigan State as opposed to missing a critical fourth quarter last year at Nebraska. But with the Huskers heading to Ohio Stadium on Saturday and Kenny Guiton coming off a rare chance to show his work in a meaningful setting, there doesn't appear to be much doubt the Buckeyes are more comfortable when the numbers change at quarterback.

"What's interesting is [Miller] went down on the first drive, bang, Kenny Guiton goes in, real cool," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. "I say, 'Kenny, start taking snaps.' He already did. 'Kenny, make sure you get warmed up.' He's already throwing the ball.

"His demeanor and his preparation are impeccable."

Guiton proved it right from his first snap against the Spartans, coming in cold off the bench to make a perfect read and pitch on the option in the red zone to keep the Buckeyes moving while Miller was attended to by trainers.

The backup would only be needed for two more plays after that, but even that small sample was enough to validate the trust Meyer has in Guiton. The junior checked to a different look once and operated the no-huddle without a hitch to get running back Jordan Hall in position for a go-ahead touchdown. That certainly doesn't mean he's a threat to unseat the dynamic Miller any time soon, but thanks to Guiton's versatility, the offense appears more likely to maintain some continuity than it did when Joe Bauserman was pressed into action against Nebraska and completed 1 of his 10 passes.

"We expect Kenny to do that," receiver Corey "Philly" Brown said. "He's probably one of the smartest football players on this team as far as knowing what to do, so you can throw Kenny in for any situation and he'll know what to do. Obviously it's a bad deal when you lose somebody like Braxton, and God willing he doesn't go down again, but I feel like if he does, Kenny will be able to step in.

"We have just as much confidence in him, to be honest with you."

His instant success against the Spartans clearly didn't do anything to damage Ohio State's faith in Guiton, regardless of how quickly he was in and out of the game.

The junior offered clear evidence he is ready to go at a second's notice if needed against the Huskers, and the Buckeyes don't exactly need a reminder of how important that can be.

"If you watch practice film, every snap Braxton takes, you see a man behind him with a helmet on going through the same thing -- only he's not under center, he's behind him doing the same stuff," Meyer said. "That's Kenny Guiton.

"I don't think Kenny is as good as Braxton, and if he was he'd be playing. But I think he's a very functional quarterback. If a guy like Braxton would go down, how do you win? Someone else has to pick up that slack or you're not as good."

There's nothing too complicated about that formula.