Why Braxton Miller's injury won't doom the Big Ten

Why Braxton Miller's injury won't doom the Big Ten
August 20, 2014, 11:30 am
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Vinnie Duber

There seems to be plenty of thinking across the Internet that Braxton Miller's season-ending injury could be disastrous for the Big Ten's chances at a national championship.

But while the Ohio State quarterback's season-long absence will have great effects on both the Buckeyes and the conference as a whole, the level of doom being prognosticated for the Big Ten seems a tad high.

The panic stems from the fact that Ohio State had the conference's best shot at making the new College Football Playoff, which will select four teams nationwide to compete for the national title. But don't confuse "best" with "only."

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Yes, the Buckeyes had the best chance of any team in the conference at going undefeated. Their non-conference schedule is not particularly strong, and only one real conference test — against Michigan State — looked to be able to derail their shot at regular-season perfection for the third straight year under Urban Meyer.

But just because the Buckeyes' fortunes have been thrown into question thanks to Miller's injury doesn't mean there are no viable options throughout the rest of the conference. In fact, the Buckeyes might not have had the best chance to win the league title before Miller's injury.

All this online worry has seemed to occur with everyone having the aforementioned Spartans removed from their memory like something out of "Men in Black." Michigan State is the defending conference champion and defending Rose Bowl champion and has much of the talent that took the Spartans to those heights back in the fold this year. The reason some might have glossed over them is a Week 2 trip to Eugene to battle the Oregon Ducks. A loss it could very well be, but it could also be a win. And, if you're of the opinion that Michigan State can go the remainder of their season without a loss, why wouldn't a one-loss Big Ten champ like the Spartans be a suitable CFP pick? If the Spartans were to take down the Ducks on the road, they'd be an instant favorite to make the four-team playoff.

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The same can be said for the teams in the West Division. Wisconsin and Iowa have high hopes for this season. And though the Badgers must open their campaign against the LSU Tigers, their finishing the season as a one-loss conference champion would figure to include them in the CFP, as well. Without a menacing non-conference opponent on Iowa's schedule, an undefeated dream season from the Hawkeyes would likely land them in the CFP, too.

While the chances of all this happening might seem a bit steeper than those of a Miller-led group of Buckeyes running the Big Ten table, to call them impossibilities would simply be incorrect. So do not fret, Big Ten football fans, just because Miller is lost does not mean that all is lost.