Cody Cousino / Multimedia editor
After posting his second memorable performance against Nebraska in as many seasons, junior Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde had a simple explanation for his success against the Cornhuskers.
“I wore my lucky pants,” Hyde said after OSU’s 63-38 Saturday win.
Consistency from Hyde during OSU’s first two conference wins has earned him a prominent role in the Buckeyes’ offense, as well as the trust of his coaches and teammates.
Surely, Buckeye Nation was glad for Hyde’s role in the team after a dismal offensive start to Saturday’s game.
OSU’s performance early in Saturday’s game was a “train wreck,” first-year OSU coach Urban Meyer said. The Buckeyes (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) amassed just 17 yards of total offense in the first quarter against the Cornhuskers (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten). Nebraska scored on three consecutive possessions to take a 17-7 lead in the second quarter – OSU’s lone score came on a 41-yard interception return by OSU sophomore cornerback Bradley Roby.
Hyde kept OSU afloat, and the record Ohio Stadium crowd of 106,102 cheering.
The offense finished the contest with 498 total yards of offense and seven touchdowns – Hyde accounted for 140 yards and four touchdowns by himself.
Even when it looked like Hyde’s luck had run out after a fourth-quarter fumble, Meyer stuck with the back. Hyde rewarded his coach’s trust when he scored his fourth touchdown of the night with less than one minute to play in the game.
Saturday was Hyde’s second productive game against Nebraska in two seasons, having rushed for 104 yards and two scores during the teams’ Oct. 8, 2011, meeting.
Hyde fumbled once on Saturday, but that was a footnote to an otherwise strong outing. Hyde said he had gained the trust of his teammates and coaches by that point in the game.
“They just told me, ‘Don’t get down on yourself.’ You know, it happens. It’s football,” Hyde said. “You just can’t get down about it … The next series, (the coaches) were like, ‘We’re going to run the same play and we’re going to give you the ball, so just keep going.”
Meyer’s confidence in the player stemmed from OSU’s 17-16 win against Michigan State one week prior. On that drive, Hyde barged through MSU’s defensive line to help the Buckeyes bleed out the clock and win the game.
Meyer said Hyde had earned his carries through hard work, adding that he wanted to pound the ball with Hyde to help pull the Buckeyes out of their early-game slump.
“We wanted to rely on Carlos Hyde a little bit, to pound him the way I felt he earned it,” Meyer said. “I made that comment after what I saw in that last drive against Michigan State; that maybe we can pound the ball for five, six, seven yards.”
Hyde averaged five yards per carry by the end of Saturday’s game. He wasn’t dismayed by OSU’s slow start on either.
“Even though we started off slow, you know, we just told each other, ‘Just stay focused, man. There’s still a lot of ball to be played in this game,'” Hyde said. “‘Don’t get down.’ I know we started off slow but we just stayed together and there wasn’t no stopping us.”
That attitude might be the factor that has Meyer looking favorably on the running back.
“Carlos Hyde is a guy that is starting to earn a lot of respect,” Meyer said.
Hyde and OSU are scheduled to play against the Indiana Hoosiers Saturday at 8 p.m. in Bloomington, Ind. The Hoosiers (2-3, 0-2 Big Ten) are coming off a 31-27 Saturday loss to Michigan State.