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Penn State gears up to face Ohio State's dangerous quarterback

| Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, 10:15 p.m.
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Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller passes downfield in the second quarter against Iowa on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

During last season's game against Penn State, Braxton Miller made a 1-yard run and turned it into a highlight-reel touchdown.

The Ohio State quarterback leaped into the end zone between two defenders after a juke and a sidestep helped him elude two others in the backfield.

There was no such sidestepping, though, by Nittany Lions coach Bill O'Brien when he was asked earlier this week about the challenge of facing Miller.

“Braxton Miller, in my opinion, is one of the top five players in the country,” O'Brien said.

An up-and-down Penn State defense will be asked to contain the Buckeyes' dynamic, dual-threat quarterback when the Lions (4-2, 1-1) play at No. 4 Ohio State (7-0, 3-0) at 8 p.m. Saturday.

“You have to keep in mind he's a very explosive player — he can make a play anytime, regardless of if you have him one-on-one,” Penn State linebacker/safety Stephen Obeng-Agyapong said.

“I'm definitely reminded of that play he made (during last season's 35-23 Ohio State win at Beaver Stadium) … I see pictures of that play all the time. It's a reminder of what we have to do as a defense.”

Miller won the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year award in 2012 after accumulating a school-record 3,310 yards of total offense and leading the Buckeyes to an undefeated record.

He entered this season among Heisman Trophy frontrunners after placing fifth in the balloting last year.

But a sprained left knee suffered during a Sept. 7 win over San Diego State caused him to miss the ensuing 2 34 games and likely squashed any chance he had at winning Ohio State's record eighth Heisman.

No matter: He has put up award-caliber statistics in the 4 14 games he has played: 1,166 total yards (831 passing, 335 rushing), eight passing touchdowns, a 70 percent completion percentage (71 of 102) and a passing efficiency rate of 160.0.

“He is the energy source for that Ohio State offense,” Penn State cornerback Jordan Lucas said.

A Buckeyes' offense that leads the Big Ten and is seventh nationally in scoring at 45 points per game. One that is in the top 20 nationally in total offense in averaging 493.1 yards.

Of greater concern for the Lions is that Miller is coming off a performance in a 34-24 comeback win over Iowa that O'Brien lauded and Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer called “probably his best game overall.”

Miller was 22 of 27 for 222 yards and two passing touchdowns and added 102 rushing yards against the Hawkeyes this last Saturday.

“He's throwing the ball well,” O'Brien said. “(And) if he gets outside the pocket, he's a dangerous guy. Sometimes those things are going to happen, but we've got to play hard and play with great effort and do the best we can to keep him in there.”

Chris Adamski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at cadamski@triblive.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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