Once a major roadblock in the SEC’s journey to the College Football Playoff, Ohio State’s national championship hopes took a serious dive Tuesday when it was reported that starting quarterback Braxton Miller would miss the 2014 season after reinjuring his surgically-repaired throwing shoulder during practice.

No longer the odds-on favorite to win the Big Ten, the Buckeyes are faced with replacing a two-time league MVP and leader who was on on pace to become just the ninth player in Division I history to rush for 40 touchdowns and pass for 40 touchdowns in a career.

There’s never a good time for significant injury news, but this one’s a severe punch in the gut for Buckeye Nation this close to kickoff, one that rattles the entire college football landscape and several once-intriguing storylines heading into the season.

With one of the game’s best players and a legitimate Heisman front-runner on the mend, what does it mean for the rest of us?

Miller’s injury essentially eliminates the Buckeyes from the conference championship and College Football Playoff picture and in turn, boosts the chances of other perceived contenders:

College Football Playoff contender shortlist post-Miller injury

  • HOT: Florida State; Alabama; Oregon; Oklahoma
  • WARM: Auburn; UCLA; Michigan State; South Carolina
  • FRINGE: Baylor, Stanford, LSU, Georgia

Big Ten fans, look away.

Early-season impact games, Wisconsin vs. LSU on Aug. 30 and Michigan State at Oregon on Sept. 6, are now essential as far as the league’s College Football Playoff hopes are concerned.

A loss in either game would stain the selection committee’s opinion of the Badgers or Spartans against nationally-ranked competition and damages public perception of a conference that’s had an AP Top 5 finisher seven of the last 10 years.

The devastating news prematurely knocks out arguably the Big Ten’s best shot at a playoff berth due to the Buckeyes’ favorable schedule (one game against a ranked team, Michigan St.) and furthermore lessens the strength of a potential win the Spartans would earn on Nov. 8.

The schedule’s not impressive enough for Wisconsin, the Big Ten’s third contender, to reach the Playoff unless the Badgers finish unbeaten with ranked wins over LSU, Nebraska and Michigan St. in the league title game.