PSU's McGloin, OSU's Miller ready to square off
Each leads his team in rushing touchdowns, but the similarities mostly end there when it comes to Ohio State's Braxton Miller and Penn State's Matt McGloin.
The highly recruited Miller has blossomed into one of the top quarterbacks in the country as a sophomore, a standout runner and more-than-capable passer who has thrust himself into the Heisman Trophy discussion while leading Ohio State to an 8-0 record.
McGloin, meanwhile, is a former walk-on who didn't become a full-time starter until this season. The fifth-year senior has thrived in head coach Bill O'Brien's up-tempo offense, leading the discussion of most-improved players in the country.
If the quarterbacks are cut from different styles and pedigrees, they share the designation of being indispensable as Penn State tries to deliver O'Brien's first signature win Saturday at Beaver Stadium while Ohio State tries to take another step toward an unbeaten season.
McGloin leads the Big Ten in passing (255.4 yards per game), and he looks like he has been running O'Brien's complex offense for years, not months.
“It's not a panic, up-tempo offense,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “It's a very under control, we're going to try to uncover what you're in. And this quarterback is a really good quarterback at getting you in the right play against the right defense. It seems like this quarterback does a lot on his own.”
The same can also be said about Miller, though in a different way.
The 6-2, 210-pounder is a big play waiting to happen, and his running ability will test Penn State's speed and discipline. Miller is not as big as former Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor, but he is more elusive, and he has rushed for more than 100 yards in five games this season. Meyer has said Miller and former Florida All-American Percy Harvin are the two best runners he has coached.
“You'd have to compare to the quarterback (Denard Robinson) at Michigan,” Penn State linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden said. “Every year, I think you've got a couple of players that are just tremendous challenges with their feet and their arm, and certainly Braxton is right up there.”
Miller can indeed throw, as evidenced by his 24 career touchdowns to just nine interceptions.
The only question is whether he will feel effects from a blow that knocked him out of last weekend's overtime win against Purdue. Miller says he's fine after slamming his head off the Ohio Stadium turf, and it doesn't look like he will be limited for the 5:30 p.m. game.
McGloin, meanwhile, is coming off one of his best performances of the season as his command of the offense was one of the things that stood out in a 38-14 win at Iowa.
If both quarterbacks play well, Penn State and Ohio State could produce a lot of points. And neither offense will be lacking for confidence.
“I think we can get a lot better,” McGloin said. “If we continue to play without beating ourselves, we're going to be a tough team to beat.”
Notes: Linebacker Nyeem Wartman could play Saturday after missing the past six games with a knee injury. The true freshman blocked a punt in the season opener. ... O'Brien on the sellout crowd expected at Beaver Stadium: “This is without a doubt the best college football environment in the country.”
Scott Brown is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.