|Kenny Guiton (AP)|
COLUMBUS — Ohio State star quarterback Braxton Miller always refers to his backup, junior Kenny Guiton, as his "big brother."
On Saturday afternoon against Purdue in Columbus, Guiton had little brother's back.
After Miller was thrown hard to the turf on a long third quarter run — which sent him to hospital with what seemed to be a devastating head injury — Guiton entered the contest and led the Buckeyes on an improbable comeback in the final seconds, driving his team for a touchdown and a two-point conversion to take the game into overtime.
Guiton would again lead the unbeaten Buckeyes on a touchdown drive in the extra period, and the defense clamped down on the Boilermakers preventing them from matching the score, giving the boys from Columbus a 29-22 victory — keeping OSU's season record flawless at 8-0 (4-0 Big Ten).
Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer called Guiton's performance "legendary" — especially after coming in cold and beginning with an interception.
"He threw the pick, and I grabbed him, I said you're going to go win us a game ... " Meyer said. "You'll be right back and we'll win the game. And he looked right back me and said, 'I gotcha, Coach.' And how many times has he been in that position, how many times has anybody been in that situation?
"I just love Kenny Guiton," Meyer smiled. "I really thought he was going to win in overtime. The energy in that stadium, how loud, that was louder than the Nebraska game.
Miller underwent tests on his head, neck, shoulders and chest and all came back negative. According to OSU football SID Jerry Emig, Miller was released from the hospital on Saturday evening "symptom-free of all ailments." He compiled 160 total yards before leaving the game.
Trailing by eight points with just 47 seconds left in the contest, Guiton and the Buckeyes had one final opportunity to make a rally, beginning the drive at their own 39.
The junior signal caller from Houston didn't bat an eye under the pressure, avoiding a sack, stepping up in the pocket and firing a 39-yard strike to receiver Devin Smith — to the Purdue 22 — on the first play of the series.
After connecting on an eight-yard pass to Evan Spencer — and then following with another target to the sophomore that was called defensive pass interference — Guiton connected with Chris Fields for a two-yard touchdown with just three seconds left on the clock making it a two-point deficit.
"After that catch, I think I told him (Fields) 'thank you' a million times," Guiton laughed. "Once I saw his hands under the ball, I knew he had it."
Of course, a miracle two-point conversion was still needed to complete the rally. Guiton, once again, answered the call.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound quarterback took the shotgun snap, rolled right, planted his feet and lobbed a pass to the opposite side of the field to a wide open Jeff Heuerman, sending the game into overtime and the crowd into a electrified frenzy.
The calm and cool Guiton knew that his work wasn't finished.
"I was too happy," Guiton said. "I wanted to tell my team to calm down because I knew it wasn't over. I was happy, but at the same time I was ready to go again."
He certainly was, as the popular backup led the Buckeyes to the Purdue 1-yard line on the opening drive of the overtime, highlighted by a 17-yard strike to tight end Jake Stoneburner. Tailback Carlos Hyde would punch it across the chalk to take the lead 29-22.
It would be up to the Buckeyes' defense to close out the improbable comeback. And like Guiton, the unit delivered, surrendering just five yards to the Boilermakers on four plays to hold on to the victory.
"Words can't even explain it," Buckeyes linebacker Ryan Shazier said. "We've been grinding so much, working so hard. We've been going through everything together. These guys are my brothers. I would do anything for them. It was amazing to have a win like that, once in a lifetime."
Meyer was even in awe after the victory.
"I'm still trying to figure this bad boy out," Meyer chuckled. "We won, right?"
Not only did they win, they remained perfect on the season. Thanks to Miller's "big brother."
"Kenny Guiton is like Kobe (Bryant) in clutch time," Buckeyes defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins said. "He knows the game and I feel like he's a coach for us on offense. He's doing a good job. I never lose faith in Kenny."
Hyde shared Hankins' sentiments.
"When Braxton went down it was detrimental to our offense," Hyde said. "But we knew Kenny would step up because he knows the plays and can come in and execute just like Braxton.
"He worked so hard to get his chance to play."
It's still unknown whether Miller (day-to-day) will be back next week or if Guiton will have another chance to lead the Buckeyes to victory, as they travel to Happy Valley for a showdown with Penn State (5-2, 3-0).