For a moment, the fans in Ohio Stadium held their breath.
Then-sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller was on his way to the hospital and OSU’s undefeated season laid in the hands of then-redshirt-junior Kenny Guiton.
Guiton led the Buckeyes on a game tying touchdown drive with 3 seconds left in regulation, and to an eventual 29-22 overtime win against Purdue Oct. 20, 2012.
It was a moment that stands out in his five-year OSU career, Guiton said Monday, because of what it meant to the team.
“No. 1, that Purdue game last year. Just coming in and (saving) a 12-0 season. You know, I don’t think that I did it on my own or anything, but just keeping that 12-0 alive and I think that was big for our seniors,” Guiton said. “Being that it was my first piece of some real action so that was pretty cool to do.”
This season, Guiton has turned into somewhat of a celebrity at OSU. His entrance into the game invites chants of “Kenny G” from the Ohio Stadium crowd.
Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against Indiana (4-6, 2-4) is set to be Guiton’s final game in the Horseshoe as a Buckeye. Although he enjoys hearing his name screamed by the fans, Guiton said Saturday is going to be special for his family.
“I hear that a lot,” Guiton said about hearing the chants. “One thing I’m happy about, my family coming up and getting to see that. I came all the way out here from Texas and (my) family don’t get to make (it up) much so them being here and seeing that, that will be so cool. I can’t wait for that.”
But Guiton said despite the highs, Senior Day is going to be very emotional for all of those involved.
“I actually thought about it a lot. I’ve been talking to a lot of guys about it … and we’re just like man, we can’t talk about that. We kind of get sentimental behind it. It’s going to be a touchy day … some tears may come out but I’m hoping not.”
Miller went down with an sprained MCL earlier this season, this time missing two whole games and the majority of a third. “Kenny G” came in and impressed in Miller’s absence, throwing for a program record six touchdowns against Florida A&M Sept. 21.
Coach Urban Meyer said Sept. 16, the Monday after Guiton’s first career start against California, he had been impressed with the play of his backup quarterback.
“It’s arguably one of the most interesting case studies I’ve ever had as a coach is the story of Kenny Guiton … can you imagine being his parent right now, how cool that would be to see his development?” Meyer said. “If you buy stock, buy stock in Kenny Guiton.”
Guiton said although the moment against Purdue will always stand out, this year has been something special as well.
“I can’t settle down on this year either because it’s like, I never saw myself being the national player of the week,” Guiton said.
Guiton was named the national player of the week after a 52-34 win against California, when he threw for 276 yards and four touchdowns.
Despite Guiton’s big numbers at times this season, and popularity among the fans, Miller remains the starter for OSU, a fact that doesn’t bother Guiton.
“Braxton deserves that credit,” Guiton said. “He puts in all the work, he’s a leader. He keeps his head up when stuff’s not going right. He’s keeping the team’s head up.”
Miller said Nov. 13 after practice that his relationship with Guiton has been a big help to his growth as a player while he’s been at OSU.
“I look up to him as a big brother, I’ve talked to him ever since I was being recruited,” Miller said.
Meyer agreed, adding that Guiton has been a big help in Braxton’s improvement since his freshman season.
“Now they’re both operating at a very high level,” Meyer said Nov. 13. “They’ve practice very hard, they prepare very hard, much different than a year ago, so I think Kenny had a lot to do with it and it’s a direct results of the way he prepares, the way he practices.”
Guiton said Meyer treats the players and staff like a family.
“One thing about coach Meyer is he’s straightforward. He’s going to tell you what he’s feeling. He’ll let you know what type of player you are and what he’s expecting out of you,” Guiton said. “I think that’s great … Everything’s said and we’re a family. He actually treats us like a family. And I think it’s really cool.”
After the No. 3-ranked Buckeyes’ (10-0, 6-0) game against the Hoosiers, Guiton will not be returning to Ohio Stadium as a player for OSU. But that doesn’t rule out a potential future in Columbus for Guiton.
“I have told the coaches that I want to do the coaching thing,” Guiton said. “So I hope so.”