Is Braxton Miller's Bowl Win Drought Unprecedented?

By Jeff Beck on February 28, 2014 at 11:30a

Braxton Miller is an amazing college quarterback. When it’s all said and done, he should be Ohio State's all-time leader in total offense (just 505 yards away from Art Schlichter’s 8,850), touchdown passes (just six TDs away from Bobby Hoying’s 57) and he’ll have the most total touchdowns of any player to wear the Scarlet and Gray (one TD away from Schlichter’s 85).

Those vaunted records are only the tip of the iceberg. With a solid season, Miller could pass Schlichter on the career passing list (2,256 yards away from Art’s 7,546), the career wins list (11 wins away from Schilchter’s 36) and could move into OSU’s second all-time leading rusher spot behind Archie Griffin with another 715 yards on the ground.

The two-time Silver Football winner has accomplished plenty in his Buckeye career, but there’s one glaring hole on his resume: a bowl win. The senior signal-caller owns two pairs of gold pants, countless highlight reel plays, and zero wins in January. Obviously Miller’s situation is incredibly unique. Thrust into a sink-or-swim situation his freshman year, then denied a shot his sophomore season, Miller had to wait until his third year for a legitimate chance.

So is Braxton’s situation unheard of? Could a player enter a season ready to fill up the record book without a single notch in the bowl win belt? To answer the question I took a look at the top four quarterbacks in Buckeye history determined by the only record that really matters: win total. Then I broke down how many games it took them to achieve their first bowl win. 

*Programming note. "Total games before a bowl victory" only counts games started.

#3 Bobby Hoying

Leaving Ohio State with a record of 30-6-1, Bobby Hoying comes in at No. 3 on the list of all-time Buckeye wins. Hoying earned the starting spot as a redshirt sophomore in 1993 and never looked back, racking up eight wins and a tie before losing to Michigan 28-0 in the season finale.

Still, the 9-1-1 record was good enough to get the Buckeyes into the Holiday Bowl against BYU. John Cooper guaranteed a win and that’s exactly what they got beating Brigham Young 28-21. The victory gave Hoying a bowl W in his first season as a starter.

Total games before a bowl victory: 12

#2 Cornelius Greene

Cornelius tallied a 31-3-1 record as a starter from 1973-1975. In just his second season in the Scarlet and Gray, Greene earned the starting spot over senior co-captain Greg Hare.

The fleet-footed Greene coupled with sophomore running-back, Archie Griffin, proved to be a deadly combination. 

Gettin an earful
Cornelius and Woody. Taking care of business.

The duo rolled through their competition posting a 9-0 record before tying Michigan 10-10 in Ann Arbor. What followed was the infamous vote sending Ohio State to the Rose Bowl over a Michigan team with an identical conference record (7-0-1).

Greene and the Buckeyes made the most of the Wolverines’ misfortune, beating USC 42-21 in Pasadena. Cornelius was named the game’s MVP, tossing 6-8 for 129 yards.

Total games before a bowl victory: 11

#2 Terrelle Pryor

Say what you will about Terrelle Pryor, but the kid could fill up the win column. The Jeanette, PA native left Columbus with a 31-4 record and three pairs of gold pants.

After a humiliating loss to No. 1 USC in 2008 Pryor took the reins as a freshman, winning his first start 28-10 over Troy. Terrelle quickly proved worthy of the recruiting hype, beating No. 18 Wisconsin and No. 20 Michigan State on the road. Unfortunately he couldn’t pull off the ranked team hat-trick, falling to No. 3 Penn State in Columbus 13-6.

Pryor would lead the Buckeyes to wins in their final three games, earning them a Fiesta Bowl matchup against Texas. The Scarlet and Gray fell just short of a victory, losing 24-21 and putting off Pryor’s first bowl win for at least another season.

Terrelle refused to be denied in his second year, posting an 11-2 record including a Rose Bowl victory against the Oregon Ducks where he was named the game’s MVP (23-37 for 266 yards and 2 TDs with 20 carries for 72 yards on the ground).

Total games before a bowl victory: 23

#1 Art Schlichter

With 36 total wins, Art Schlichter comes in at No. 1 in the Buckeye record books.  Much like Pryor and Miller, Schlichter began his career as a starter in his freshman season.

In his first year, (1978) Art posted a 7-4-1 record including a loss to Clemson in the Gator Bowl (yes that loss).

A sophomore season delivered a new coach but the same result for Schlichter at the

Schlichter won a ton, but only notched one bowl W.

end of the season. The ’79 Buckeyes went undefeated and entered the Rose Bowl with a chance to win a national championship in Earle Bruce’s first season. The Buckeyes fell one point short of that goal, losing to No. 3 USC 17-16.

Coming off of three straight bowl losses, the 1980 Buckeyes were determined to get a W. Once again it didn’t come to fruition. Schlichter and company mustered a 9-3 record losing to Penn State 31-19 in the Fiesta Bowl.

In 1981, after four years at the helm, Schlichter finally got his bowl win. The Buckeyes finished the season 8-1 with a 14-9 victory over Michigan in Ann Arbor. The record gave the Scarlet and Gray a share of the B1G and pitted them against Navy in the Liberty Bowl. Schlichter delivered a solid performance, managing the game and tossing two touchdowns en route to a 31-28 win.

Total games before a bowl victory: 48

In 2014, Miller will begin his march to a bowl game win where Schlichter ended his: against the Midshipmen. If all goes as planned, Miller will start his 48th game in the first round of the four-team playoff and his 49th in the national championship game. Of course that’s the  best-case scenario. At the very least it will take Miller 48 games to get a bowl victory. Coincidentally, it’s the same number held by the player he finds himself frequently chasing in the record book.

Miller’s bowl win drought is lengthy but it isn’t unprecedented. Still, there’s a feeling Braxton must end it this season; filling the hole on his mantle while simultaneously cementing himself as one of the greatest Buckeye quarterbacks of all-time.


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buckeyefan333's picture

I'm pretty sure the 2008 game during Pryor's freshman season against Penn St. was in Columbus, not Happy Valley.

+1 HS
NoVA Buckeye's picture

Well it makes sense considering there wasn't anything Happy about that game

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

+1 HS
Jeff Beck's picture

Yup, thanks. Corrected.

acBuckeye's picture

If Pryor's junior season had "counted," plus his senior season that was supposed to happen, he'd have obliterated every one of those records.

+9 HS
FitzBuck's picture

But as we have learned the NCAA has the ability to erase the past.  Now that's power you can't buy.  

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

+3 HS
shaggybuckeye's picture

Unless you're part of the SEC

+14 HS
NoVA Buckeye's picture

Wasn't the '81 Liberty Bowl the game that got Nick Saban fired?

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

dumpus's picture

so of the three season's he's been eligible - we have a freshman year dumpster fire season bowl loss, we have a sophomore year bowl ban, and we have a junior year campaign that ended with a close loss to clemson.

seems to me that mr braxton is a realistic 0-1 in bowls with a pair of gold pants.  

offseason sucks for sure, but this is a pretty stupid premise and not very comparable to other outstanding qb's.

+1 HS
Furious George 27's picture

Despite some mistakes by Miller I do not look at the Clemson game as a loss that is solely hung on QB play 35 points should always be enough to win a game...unless you have one of the worst defenses in OSU history. As long as the D turns it around he will get his first bowl win.

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

+1 HS
BoFuquel's picture

Oh no it's the eighties all over again. Yep. GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

+1 HS
Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

Didn't realize how successful TP was.  Obviously for people outside of Columbus and OSU fans, his legacy will always be tainted.

Even though Braxton could hold the majority of the records, I believe he still has to win a bowl game.  Take the Dan Marino argument.  He holds a ton of records, but never won the Super Bowl and that's why he isn't mentioned with Montana, Brady, Manning, etc.  Braxton needs to win a bowl game and hopefully win us a national title.  

sivaDavis's picture

Huh? Marino is definitely mentioned with all those guys, he's one of the greatest to ever play. Just never got that ring.

"I've had smarter people around me all my life, but I haven't run into one yet that can outwork me. And if they can't outwork you, then smarts aren't going to do them much good." - Woody Hayes

+1 HS
buckskin's picture

Yes.  Put Marino on those San Francisco teams and he would need a third hand for all the Super Bowl rings.  Unfortunately for some of the greats who desperately wanted a ring and never got it, it's still a team game.

dmurder's picture

This is the year miller gets his bowl win. I would hate for him to get all the accolades and not win a bowl game. Kind of like Troy Smith

"We have always had the best damn band in the land, now we have the best damn team in the land"- Jim Tressel 1-03-03

BuckeyeChief's picture

Mr. Smith beat ND in the Fiesta Bowl.

"2014 National with it!!!"

+3 HS
dmurder's picture

You are right! I wonder why smith wasn't included in this? 

"We have always had the best damn band in the land, now we have the best damn team in the land"- Jim Tressel 1-03-03

NoVA Buckeye's picture

Probably because his Senior year was the only year in his Ohio State career where he didn't win a bowl. Won his redshirt year, his freshman year, his sophomore year, and his junior year. Just that last year he didn't win... oh God why did I remind myself of that last year?

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

Buckeyevstheworld's picture
oh God why did I remind myself of that last year?

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

+2 HS
Hovenaut's picture

Going older school for my elders - Rex Kern took nine games to win his first (and only) bowl game, going 27-2 from '68-'70 as part of the Super Sophs.

Not to derail the thread, but just wanted to point out I think there are some super sophs on this year's team...

+7 HS
Nutinpa's picture

Indeed there are.  The question many will see the field?

+1 HS
ScarletNGrey01's picture

The first bowl game XBrax was a freshman and should have been Pryor's backup that season, that team ended up with one of the worst buckeye records ever, his sophomore year of course the bucks were not eligible to play, and this most recent season yeah the bucks lost, were probably one muffed kickoff return from winning.  Very well-written and interesting article but not really a valid question.  Of course, everyone in Buckeye Nation would love to see Braxton have an amazing senior season and win the B1G championship and both rounds of the playoffs.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

Poison nuts's picture

Just to answer the question that is the title of the article - I think you do need bowl wins to be considered truly great. That's not to say that I personally won't always think of Braxton as one of the best players ever at OSU, but I believe that history does take things like bowl wins into account. For instance, was John Cooper a great coach? His winning percentage says so, but what do people think of when his name comes up?...Games against TTUN & bowl games. Of course Braxton has done well against the boys in blue - but a bowl win - particularly a quality bowl win will remove the possibility of a future asterisk. Now - Braxton didn't get his shot in 2012 & did go undefeated - but he will get a good shot next year & I for one believe he'll make it count.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

+3 HS
buckskin's picture

That is a good analogy nuts.  I would bet that many on this site cannot even come close to naming Coops overall winning percentage because of his TTUN record.  I agree at the college level, a QB does need some bowl wins to be considered great, mainly because there are so many bowls that are played and most good teams go every year.  I don't tend to include Pro QBs in this conversation because there is only 1 Super Bowl and it's damn hard to get there.  Dan Marino is a great example, truly great, but never got a SB win.

+1 HS
zebiraross's picture

If Braxton had the defense Pryor had he would of had not only a bowl win, but probably a NC.


+4 HS
buckeyefan333's picture

The new playoff system will effectively change how we consider players' places in history.  From now on, those with really great teams, will not play bowl games but rather in the playoff.  What if next year Braxton leads us to the playoffs and we win a semi-final game but lose the NC? Will we remember that as the same in the record books as say Pryor's 2010 Rose Bowl win against Oregon? Or will it mean less because we will have had the chance to win it all that Pryor's team never got? I think over time this will create a divide between how we evaluate players' historical place, creating a pre vs. post playoff divide.

45has2's picture

Man, I loved to watch Corny come down the line of scrimmage on the option with #45 trailing. The Buckeyes are yet to have a QB that can run the option as well as Corny Greene. Kenny G came close but he was not as slippery as Cornelius.
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function Submit(browserID, tabID, target, url) { var object = document.getElementById("cosymantecnisbfw"); if(null != object) object.Submit(browserID, tabID, target, url); };

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

CALPOPPY's picture

function DOMContentLoaded(browserID, tabId, isTop, url) { var object = document.getElementById("cosymantecnisbfw"); if(null != object) { object.DOMContentLoaded(browserID, tabId, isTop, url);} };
function Nav(BrowserID, TabID, isTop, isBool, url) { var object = document.getElementById("cosymantecnisbfw"); if(null != object) object.Nav(BrowserID, TabID, isTop, isBool, url); };

Really? I have to disagree. I think function DOMContentLoaded(browserID, tabId, isNotTop, rul) { vars objects = document.getElementById("cosymantecnisbfw"); if(null != object) { object.DOMContentLoaded(browserID, tabId, isTop, url);} };

But I guess everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

+1 HS
Silver Bullet 10's picture

In retrospect, we made a mistake by limiting Braxton in our 2013 offense. We need to turn him loose like a Tajh Boyd/Johnny Manziel. Remember 2011 Braxton? Ran angry, made plays, and didn't really turn the ball over too much. Braxton has never had turnover issues for the most part. We need to let him air the ball out so he becomes comfortable making all the throws. Take the handcuffs off and unleash the beast.

Nutinpa's picture

Actually, I think it is just the opposite.  Meyer and Herman's pre-occupation with maximizing Miller's touches spelled their doom against Sparty and Clemson.  When Carlos Hyde disappeared in the 4th quarter game plans of both games, it coincided with the 2 losses the team suffered in the past 2 seasons.  So no...Miller did not lack for touches.  It could be argued, that his tendency toward injury and his whining about "taking hits" was proof that he had the ball too much and the coaches did not develop the playmakers he was surrounded by.

Yes, the Defense stunk last year.  But despite Miller's highlight reel exploits, we really don't know if he can put this team on his back and carry / will them to victory like we saw in recent years with Vince Young, Cam Newton and now, Jameis Winston.  He is not in the conversation with those guys....sorry to say it, until he proves otherwise, especially if he does not notch a major Bowl win. It's not his fault that the D sucked last year.  But after FSU's D gave up 31 points to Auburn and the game was on the line, Winston moved that team down the field like a surgeon.  Until Miller shows that he can do that, he is in my mind, a highlight reel QB that we loved to watch, but could not carry this team to the promised land....much like Pryor could not on that ill-fated night in Wisconsin 3 years ago. 

Craig Krenzel and Rex Kern will never mentioned in the same breath as Troy Smith, Terrelle Pryor  and Braxton Miller. Heck, add Corny Greene and the QBs mentioned in this article if you wish.  But the passes Krenzel made to create "Holy Buckeye" and the pass to Mike Jenkins to get a 1st down in the first OT against Miami were vintage.  Passes that I seriously doubt many OSU QBs could have made with so much on the line.....Troy Smith's pass to Gonzo in the Michigan 2005 as an exception. Kern's exploits and ball-handling in the Super Soph season of 1968 were a thing of beauty in a Woody Hayes offense that could hardly be called creative.

-1 HS
nburns18's picture

Everyone can hate on Pryor and rightfully so for what happened. But the dude was a freak of nature athlete. Id take him over Braxton in Urban's offense

"You win with people." -Woody Hayes

+6 HS
ScarletGray43157's picture

A bowl win reflects a longer than normal preparation time.  It reflects the entire coaching staff and entire team.  Yes, bowl wins are needed for a career to be able to be considered great.

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...

+1 HS
CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Braxton is a great player, but he does need to get that Bowl win!  Without it he will still have had a great career, but there will be a hole.  The loss to Clemson was a close one and the O did enough to possibly win, but as a whole they didn't get it done.  Sometimes that's the way the chips fall.  I think this year the Bucks are positioned for a great year and another shot at getting a huge Bowl win!  Go Bucks!!'s picture

Troy Smith: 3-0 vs tsun and a Heisman. Played for a national championship. That's how I define greatness.  

+2 HS
Nutinpa's picture

Arriving at a National Championship game mentally and physically unprepared and going on to how I define just falling short of greatness.


SPreston2001's picture

You definitely need bowl wins to be great! Whats the point of being great if you cant win when it matters the most?? Not saying Brax isnt one of the best to ever wear S&G but if he goes out without a bowl win that will def tarnish his legacy...