September 30, 2013 at 1:00 am

Matt Charboneau

Forget any QB controversy, Braxton Miller has reins for Ohio State

It’s obvious Ohio State just doesn’t get the concept of a quarterback controversy.

Honestly, Urban Meyer, give Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio a call if you want a few pointers.

That’s because the alleged “debate” between Braxton Miller and Kenny Guiton looked pretty silly by the time Ohio State was done knocking off Wisconsin, 31-24, Saturday night in a game that might have decided the champion of the Big Ten’s Leaders Division just one game into the Buckeyes’ conference season.

Miller hadn’t played since the second week after suffering a knee injury that kept him out of the lineup until he stepped onto the field against the Badgers. In the meantime, Guiton threw 13 touchdown passes and had Meyer talking about getting the backup some time, even when Miller — one of the Heisman Trophy favorites this season — was healthy.

But it appears that all went out the window late last week.

“What I saw on Thursday (in practice),” Meyer said, “then there was no doubt who was going to be our starter.”

Good call, coach.

Apparently any rust Miller might have accumulated was sufficiently blown off by the time the game kicked off in front of a raucous crowd at the Horseshoe.

The junior threw for four touchdowns, was 17-for-25 for 198 yards and carried the ball 22 times for 83 yards.

So … controversy? Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s not how you do it.

Maybe it was Meyer’s way of simply keeping the Wisconsin defense off-balance in its preparation. Maybe it was motivation for its star signal-caller.

Whatever it was, there can be little doubt Miller is the man who will take Ohio State as far as it hopes to go, and that is all the way to Pasadena. Not for the Rose Bowl, mind you, but the national championship game a week later.

Some might have started to wonder if Miller had what it took to lead his team there, especially after not even dressing for last week’s scrimmage against Florida A&M. But the player who finished fifth in the Heisman voting last season likely has few doubters, if any, at this point.

“I’ve been working really hard this last couple weeks because I’ve been hurt, fundamental-wise,” Miller said. “That’s how I get things going. I felt pretty good. My leg felt good, energy-wise. I wasn’t out of shape.”

And now Ohio State is in great shape heading into next week’s battle at Northwestern.

There will be plenty of hype around the Wildcats entering that game, and there should be. Plenty will be at stake as Northwestern, also unbeaten, has a chance to stake its claim as a true Big Ten contender.

But if Miller continues to play the way he did against Wisconsin, there might be little the rest of the conference can do to slow the Buckeyes.

“We’re excited to have him back,” offensive lineman Jack Mewhort said. “We need him going forward.”

And there’s little controversy about that.

Hawkeyes OK after all

It’s amazing, sometimes, how quickly a team’s fortunes can change.

In the opening week of the season, Iowa fans were fretting over a loss at home to Northern Illinois. Most seasons, that might actually have been something to fret about. But Northern Illinois played in a BCS game last season and happens to be unbeaten this year.

It turns out, Kirk Ferentz had no plans to close up shop and mail in the rest of the season.

Go figure.

The Hawkeyes got past Missouri State, beat rival Iowa State and embarrassed Western Michigan. On Saturday, they celebrated over a pig —the Floyd of Rosedale — and suddenly find themselves in pretty good shape as they prepare to host Michigan State next week.

Against Minnesota, Mark Weisman rushed for 147 yards on 24 carries as Iowa controlled the line of scrimmage. The Hawkeyes ran for 246 yards to just 30 for the Gophers.

It’s the way Iowa will have to win this season, though sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock has been solid. They might not have enough to contend in the Legends Division over the long haul, but the Hawkeyes proved this week they’ll be a tough team to beat.

Hazell evaluating

To say Darrell Hazell has a tough job ahead of him at Purdue appears to be quite the understatement.

The Boilermakers have one victory this season, and that was against an FCS opponent. That victory was only secured with a late interception.

On Saturday, Purdue got hammered on its home field by a Northern Illinois team that is feasting on the Big Ten.

But this was hardly a challenge for Northern Illinois, which scored on its first four series, forced five turnovers and led 27-10 at the half as quarterback Jordan Lynch became the 26th player in Football Bowl Subdivision history to top 4,000 yards passing and 2,000 rushing in his career. He was 18-of-25 and had nine carries for 35 yards and a score.

It was too much for the Boilermakers.

“We’ll have to evaluate the film to see if we’re making progress or we’re stagnant,” Hazell said. “We’ll have to take a look at everything.”

That’s gonna be a long list, coach.

mcharboneau@detroitnews.com
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Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller eludes the grasp of Warren Herring of the Badgers in the first quarter Saturday. Miller threw for 198 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 83 more in a 31-24 victory. / Jamie Sabau / Getty Images