Turning Points, Volume 12: Braxton Knows Best

By Jeff Beck on July 18, 2013 at 4:00p
20 Comments
As the game turns

2011 was a hard year to be a Buckeye. It’s not necessary to go into specifics for the sake of everyone’s sanity, but needless to say losing a star QB, RB, WR, OL and living legend coach resulted in tough times for Columbus.

Interim head coach, Luke Fickell led his team out onto the field for some early season MACtion against the Akron Zips. The Silver Bullets pitched a shut-out and starting QB Joe Bauserman was made to look like Joe Namath, throwing for 163 yards and 3 TDs against Akron’s paperbag D.

The honeymoon was short-lived however, as the Bucks came out flat against Toledo in week two, squeaking by for a 27-22 win. The Scarlet and Gray would need a last second stop on 4th and 6 to remain unbeaten in 90 straight years against in-state opponents.

The Toledo struggles would be a harbinger for things to come as everything fell apart in week three against the Hurricanes. The game would see multiple QB changes from Fickell as he tried unsuccessfully to get anything going. Ultimately, the Buckeyes weren’t even able to muster a TD on their way to a 24-6 defeat.

A 37-17 win against Colorado the following week would serve to sate Buckeye Nation for a moment. The victory looked fairly pedestrian on paper, but was significant as it symbolized a change in direction for the Buckeyes. Bauserman proved unsuccessful under center, opening a door for true freshman, Miller to get his first start. Miller would not disappoint tossing for 2 TDs while also rushing for 80+ yards on the ground.

It seemed the Buckeyes had found their man, but in the following week the combination of Miller’s inexperience, coupled with a stout Michigan State D would result in a lackluster 10-7 loss. Both Miller and Bauserman performed so poorly, that Fickell mentioned in a presser he was considering opening up the QB job to all four contenders on the squad (Miller, Bauserman, Guiton and Graham).

Ultimately, Fickell decided to stay with No.5 in week six against the Cornhuskers and immediately it seemed the gamble paid off as Braxton and company would jump out to a 27-6 lead. Unfortunately Miller would sprain his right ankle in the third quarter and would not return. Bauserman would step in to spell Braxton and would complete only one of ten passes the rest of the way. The abysmal performance led to the birth of the Bauserbomb and catalyzed the biggest comeback in Nebraska football history. 

The next week Fickell would lean heavily on RB Dan Herron in his first game back since suspension. The Bucks threw the ball only 4 times and would complete only 1 pass (a TD to TE Jake Stoneburner) to beat the Fighting Illini 17-7 and end their two-game losing streak.

Miller getting rowdyMiller making memories.

Sitting at 4-3 (1-2 in the B1G) OSU was set to meet the #15 Wisconsin Badgers for a Halloween weekend matchup in the ‘Shoe. Expectations weren’t incredibly high for the Scarlet and Gray. The combination of Russell Wilson and Montee Ball seemed tailor-made for Buckeye beating, but as any battle-tested OSU fan knows…anything can happen on the banks of the Olentangy.

Setting the Stage

The Badgers would get the ball first and were stone-walled after just four plays. The Buckeyes weren’t able to capitalize and were forced to give the ball back. On Wisconsin’s next drive they would put together a 69-yard march culminating in a 22-yard pass to Ball for a TD. 7-0 Wisconsin and that’s where the score would stay for the first quarter.

Heading into the second, the two teams would trade possessions until 8:41 when kicker, Drew Basil was able to nail home a 39-yard FG to put the Bucks on the board. With the Silver Bullets largely shutting down the potent Badger offense, the score would sit at 7-3 heading into the locker room.

The Buckeyes would receive the ball to start the third and immediately began to make some noise bolstered by a Boom Herron 57-yard rush on the first play from scrimmage. The scamper would position the Buckeyes at the Wisconsin 18 and set up OSU for their first TD of the day: a Braxton Miller rush for a 1-yard TD.

The Scarlet and Gray would hold the Badgers to a three-and-out on their next possession. During Wisconsin’s punt, Corey Brown broke through the line to block the kick, setting the Buckeyes up on the Wisconsin 1-yard line.

Just three plays later Jordan Hall would find pay-dirt putting the Buckeyes up 10-7. The Badgers would answer on their very next possession, stringing together an 83-yard drive to narrow the lead at 17-14.

Heading into the fourth, fans on both sides were tense. The pace of the game was largely dictated by the defensive squads and all signs pointed to a final quarter that featured more of the same. Few, if any, predicted the offensive firestorm that was on the horizon.

OSU opened up the scoring with a Basil 22-yard FG and a Braxton Miller 44-yard TD run to put the Bucks up 26-14. The Badgers would counter on their next possession with a Wilson to WR Jared Abbrederis TD to make it 26-21 with roughly 4 minutes to go.

With their lead waning, the Buckeyes desperately needed a score. They wouldn’t get it on their next series and were forced to punt. Wisconsin immediately took advantage of the opportunity via a Wilson to Abbrederis 49-yard pass and subsequent two-point conversion to go up 29-26 with only two-minutes to go.

Suddenly the Buckeyes found themselves down in a game they had led most of the way.

Jordan Hall refused to accept that reality returning the Wisconsin kick 42-yards to mid-field. With time running down the Buckeyes were able to string together a few modest gains and had a first down in three plays. But the yards weren’t coming fast enough. With only one timeout left, Fickell chose to get a play in as the chains were being moved, snapping the ball with roughly 30 seconds to play. What happened next is still being talked about in Columbus.

The Turning Point: Braxton Goes For It All

Braxton received the snap in the shotgun, looked for open receivers and saw none. A Badger defensive lineman flushed him to his right and Braxton took off for what looked to be a a gain of one before he scampered out of bounds. But Miller had other ideas. Keeping his eyes downfield he let the ball go right at the line of scrimmage. Behold.

The audio really doesn’t do this play justice, as the entire stadium exploded in a raucous celebration.

Amidst the chaos, Braxton tore off his chin-straps and smiled at the camera, secure in his knowledge that he had just submitted his own entry into the litany of amazing moments witnessed at Ohio Stadium.

The score would put the Buckeyes up 33-29 and would be both the turning point and the nail in the coffin for the Badgers.

The win improved the Buckeyes to 5-3 (2-2 in conference) and kept them in contention for the B1G title. Unfortunately the Wisconsin play would be one of the last magical moments for the 2011 Bucks. Over the next five games they would go 1-4, finishing 6-7 on the season.

While the year as a whole was a low-light for the program, Miller’s Turning Point in the Wisconsin game will forever stand as an amazing moment in Buckeye history.


Until next week, Turning Points...out.

20 Comments

Comments

Baroclinicity's picture

I love watching that play over and over.

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

IBleedSandG's picture

Just three plays later Jordan Hall would find pay-dirt putting the Buckeyes up 10-7. The Badgers would answer on their very next possession, stringing together an 83-yard drive to narrow the lead at 17-14.

The score in the first sentence should be 17-7. Not trying to be "that guy".
Edit: I was watching that game at a Halloween party, and thought for sure Brax's 44 yd TD was the nail in the coffin. My friends and I went decided to take the party back to my buddies' house. We left with the Buckeyes up 12 and in control. I had to listen to the rest of that crazy quarter in my friend's car. I was going nuts b/c the signal was fading in and out, and it was hard to understand Keel's play-by-play. Thankfully, Braxton found Devin in the endzone, and a tragedy was averted.

We don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan, we're from O-HI-O!

Torpedo Vegas's picture

Pretty sure it was Shazier that blocked the punt too. 

BuckeyeNationProblems's picture

None of us care about your girly girl story

Matt

omahabeef1337's picture

I was at the game in section 7A by myself. I turned around a hugged a total stranger. That might have been my favorite game I've been to.

SilverBulletNYC's picture

Oh, I miss the Bauserbombs!

The South will NOT rise again!

BuckeyeStrong2's picture

Said NO Buckeye EVER!!

BuckeyeChief's picture

Live blog from that game. AWESOME/EPIC/AMAZING GAME!

 

"Clutch has no boundaries"

BuckeyeSki's picture

There was a crazy/early snowstorm the day of this game in New York. Knocked all the power out so I missed the entire game. I had no idea what happened and just assumed we would get rolled by Wisky the way the season was going....until my phone BLEW UP after this play

Banned from BlackShoeDiaries since 2008. Crime: Slander/Defamation of Character Judgement: Guilty

CowCat's picture

I was there.  I still get chills remembering that play.

"We get paid to score touchdowns, not kick field goals"
-- Urban Meyer

BuckeyeChief's picture

Chills here as well. I don't know how many of you guys were around for the live blog, or on here at the time, but I was temp duty to San Diego during that game and watched it in my hotel room, just an awesome game, awesome time.

 

"Clutch has no boundaries"

Hovenaut's picture

I've grown to dislike 'sconsin quite a bit since Alvarez resurrected the program and Bert, well was Bert. My father was quick to point out Earle himself had a losing record? against the Badgers (4-5), which seems inexplicable to me.

That was a tough year to watch....Toledo raised huge flags that were confirmed to me in the loss to Miami. The Colorado win was good, but still left me very concerned going into conference play.

I was hopeful Braxton could pick up (and possibly improve upon) where Pryor left off, but it was clear he needed time and much development as a passer. But his natural athleticism sure came in handy against Bert and company that night.

A very memorable moment in an otherwise forgettable season.

"Success...it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

route4buckeye's picture

I was there in C Deck and I was on the field in a matter of moments. Only my second game. still get chills watching it.

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

That was one of the most exciting plays that I ever remember.  When the Bucks scored everyone just erupted!  It was great!!
Go Bucks!!

pjtobin's picture

What a great turning point. I hope xbrax gets a to throw two for two or more tds per game this year. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

Jabba the Hoke's picture

I think he will, but I'd be just as happy if Hyde had that average instead. Hell, why not both?

DJRoss926's picture

My friends and I were at an OSU bar in Chicago for the game (McGee's, for those of you that know the area). Some Wisconsin fans were talking crap to our group the entire time up until this play. The roof blew off the place with cheers and they left immediately.
P.S. Miss you already, Bert. <3

buckskin's picture

Xbrax looked like T Smith juking that Badger to get the throw off.  Bert crying after the game was icing on the cake!!
i remember Meyer announcing OSU's 1st game that year and he was upset that Miller was over on the sidelines by himself, not together with the QBs on the sidelines or wearing headsets, trying to learn.  I mean he was really upset, to the point of saying that would not happen on my team.  Glad you came coach.

MassiveAttack's picture

That play was just amazing, and so much fun to watch.  Braxton became a hero to me during the Purdue game, before the blocked PAT.  But I ran out the next morning after this Wisconsin game, determined to get his jersey.  I know many of you are not fans, but I loved the uniforms and helmet in this game.
One thing I remember from this game was Russell Wilson seeking out Braxton after the game (amid a MOB of fans rushing the field) to shake his hand.  Classy move, Russell.  I didn't see but a few other Badgers doing that (no surprise).

Michibuck's picture

Great play, which lives forever in Buckeye lore.