Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller has re-injured his right shoulder and is out for the season, according to reports.
With Miller gone, that means we’ve already got our first shake up of the 2014 Heisman race. I’ve not yet released my preseason Heisman Watch, but Miller would’ve placed second in it, meaning that his odds of winning heading into the season were the second-best of any other player.
The prime beneficiary of Miller’s exit should be Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon. Miller was, by far, the Big Ten’s leading Heisman candidate and he would’ve garnered a ton of support in the Midwest region following a stellar season. Gordon now moves into the role of leading Big Ten candidate, though his hold on that spot isn’t nearly as strong as Miller’s was. If Gordon has a big season and the Heisman race is splintered, his Midwestern base could be decisive.
Miller’s exit should also help the other quarterbacks jockeying for the award, including Marcus Mariota, Bryce Petty and Brett Hundley. Those three won’t have to share the spotlight with Miller all season long and will now be able to attract MidWest voters who tend to favor dual-threat quarterbacks.
It just goes to show you how important health is to the Heisman race. One injury can jumble it up pretty quick.
As for Ohio State, it has a capable backup in J.T. Barrett. Miller’s injury could actually lead to a more balanced Buckeyes offense, which tended to rely on the do-everything quarterback too much the last couple seasons.