Eric Beiersdorfer / Lantern photographer
Ohio State’s road to victory against Indiana Saturday was not as smooth as some expected, but the Buckeyes’ running game, which produced three 100-yard rushers, helped pave the way to a 34-20 win against the Hoosiers.
Redshirt senior running back Daniel “Boom” Herron ran for 141 yards, while freshman quarterback Braxton Miller and sophomore running back Carlos Hyde each ran for 105 yards.
It was the fourth time in OSU history that the Buckeyes had three 100-yard rushers in a game. The last time OSU accomplished the feat was Nov. 4, 1989, when Dante Lee, Scottie Graham and Carlos Snow each gained more than 100 yards on the ground against Northwestern.
OSU head coach Luke Fickell said the offensive performance helped the Buckeyes gain momentum throughout the game, especially when the defense struggled.
“That’s why it’s a team sport. Sometimes the defense, you get on the headset, scrambling because, just a little bit, because we can’t make that play. Get to third down, hey, offense, we need some momentum,” Fickell said in a post-game press conference. “They did one heck of a job.”
Hyde said the success was a confidence-booster for the Buckeye offense, which gained 346 total yards on the ground Saturday.
“Our confidence is really high,” Hyde said after the game. “To have three guys go over 100 yards in the same game is huge.”
Miller’s 105 yards included two touchdowns, one of which was an 81-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. The rush was the sixth-longest in school history and the longest ever by an OSU quarterback. The previous long rush by a Buckeye quarterback was a 76-yard run by Rex Kern in 1970.
Both Fickell and Miller emphasized the importance of strong blocks on the record-setting play.
“Obviously, (Miller) is a heck of a football player and can run the football very well,” Fickell said. “But you gotta look — it was blocked pretty well, too. He might make one guy miss or outrun some other guy, but we did a heck of a job blocking down the field.”
Despite the accomplishment, Miller said he’s still focusing on the future rather than allowing the record to distract him.
“It’s great to be in the Ohio State record book, but I keep striving toward the next game,” Miller said.
Hyde and Herron each tacked on a touchdown as well. A 15-yard rush by Herron in the third quarter put the Buckeyes up, 20-13. Hyde’s 2-yard run late in the fourth quarter put OSU up 34-20.
Hyde said he focused on “hitting the holes” that the offensive line created for him, and his focus paid off.
Though Hyde has not seen the field much since he rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown against Nebraska, Fickell took notice of Hyde’s performance.
“We keep harping on our guys all the time, you just never know when your opportunities are going to arise,” Fickell said. “He’s kept his head up, continued to fight, battle, tried to find some other ways he could contribute when Boom and (junior running back Jordan Hall) were getting the majority of the carries.”
All three players credited the offensive line for their blocking, which opened up the field for big run plays.
“I was very happy to get it going today. The offensive line made it happen,” Herron said. “They opened holes for me, which I found and just went.”
The Buckeyes hope to continue their success on the ground as they compete for the Big Ten championship and a possible Rose Bowl berth. The NCAA’s pending announcement regarding program violations could exclude the Buckeyes from postseason play, as well as a berth the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game, however.
OSU kicks off their next game against Purdue at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Ind.