COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The darkest moment for Ohio State and its fans ended up being the brightest highlight of Kenny Guiton's career.
With star quarterback Braxton Miller on the way to the hospital for evaluation, Guiton took his place and led the seventh-ranked Buckeyes to a tying touchdown and two-point conversion with 3 seconds left to force overtime against Purdue.
Guiton wasn't done. He then guided Ohio State into position for Carlos Hyde's 1-yard touchdown run that ended up as the difference in a heart-stopping 29-22 win over the Boilermakers on Saturday.
"I'm still trying to figure that bad boy out," a stunned coach Urban Meyer said after his Buckeyes (8-0, 4-0 Big Ten) remained perfect on the season with the improbable victory. "We won, right?"
Many in a crowd of 105,290 thought the Buckeyes had little or no chance of winning after Miller lay on the turf for several minutes after being thrown down on the next-to-last play of the third quarter. The mood had sunk even lower when Guiton, who had just thrown an interception on his last play, came out with just 47 seconds left, Ohio State trailing 22-14, and 61 yards remaining to get to the end zone.
"The people around me calmed me down and got me ready to go out there and have fun," the senior said.
He did more than have fun.
"Some of the efforts I saw tonight were legendary," Meyer said. "I mean, that was a moment that I'll certainly never forget — the quarterback jogging into the game, the old righthander. (He) just did a heck of a job."
After Guiton threw the interception to Landon Feichtner with 2:40 left that could have ended Ohio State's hopes, Meyer grabbed Guiton.
"I said, 'You're going to win us a game,'" Meyer said. "He looked right at me. I think he was down but I think that moment kind of picked him up."
Meyer, in his first year at Ohio State, had taken an almost instant dislike to Guiton because of his attitude and lackadaisical work habits, and nearly ran him off the team.
"He was ready to get a one-way bus ticket back to Texas when I first got here," Meyer said earlier this week. "Then he changed really dramatically."
Guiton appreciated the faith his coach had in him, even after the turnover. When he ran onto the field for the final drive of regulation, he passed that confidence on to his teammates.
"(Coach Meyer) told me I was going to be OK," Guiton said. "I told the offense, 'We need to make plays and we're going to get it. So let's go, let's keep our heads up and let's start winning this game.'"
On first down, Guiton threw a long pass to a wide-open Devin Smith for a 39-yard gain.
Battling the clock, the Buckeyes eventually faced a first and goal at the Purdue 2 with 8 seconds left. Guiton rolled to his left and fired a low pass to another seldom used player, Chris Fields. The play was reviewed but was allowed to stand.
Now down by two points, the Buckeyes set up for the conversion. Guiton lofted a soft toss over a linebacker to freshman tight end Jeff Heuerman to tie it.
After smothering the Boilermakers on the ensuing kickoff, the overtime was decided early.