COLUMBUS, Ohio — When star quarterback Braxton Miller cried out in pain and crumpled to the ground during No. 5 Ohio State’s practice Monday, coach Urban Meyer wasn’t certain what had happened.

“Oh, it was devastating. It was a bad deal,” Meyer said glumly on Wednesday. “First of all, I didn’t see exactly what happened and I thought someone hit him. I went berserk, saying, ‘What happened?’ (The coaches) looked at me and I said, ‘No one hit him?’ ”

No, no one tackled or was even rushing the two-time Big Ten player of the year and Heisman Trophy candidate. Still coming back slowly from February surgery on his right shoulder, it took just a 7-yard pass — with no one around — to sideline Miller for the season. This time, he had suffered a torn labrum.

Rabid Buckeyes fans have had a mournful look on their faces ever since word leaked out about Miller’s injury. But tight end Jeff Heuerman wants to reassure them that the players haven’t given up.

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“We’ve been through adversity before,” he said, “so it’s just another steppingstone and we’ll get through it.”

The Buckeyes will get through it by replacing Miller — with 8,346 yards of total offense and 84 touchdowns in his Ohio State career — with redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett, who has never taken a snap in a college game.

CLEVELAND — Kent State player Jason Bitsko, who was slated to start at center for the Golden Flashes this season, died in his sleep.

Police believe he passed away from an undetermined medical issue, the school said. The school said the 21-year-old Bitsko was found unresponsive in the bedroom of his off-campus apartment shortly before 9 a.m.


• Clemson tailback Zac Brooks, the Tigers’ top returning running back, will miss the season with a foot injury.

• After outdueling his two competitors, Wes Lunt will be Illinois’ starting quarterback.