Eddie George and Keith Byars.
These are the only players who have ever ran for more yards in a game for Ohio State than senior running back Carlos Hyde did in the Buckeyes’ win against Illinois (3-7, 0-6) last Saturday.
In the 60-35 victory, Hyde rushed for 246 yards, which tied Archie Griffin for the third best single game rushing performance in school history. Hyde also added four rushing touchdowns and two catches for 26 yards and a touchdown.
All of this without getting the start at running back. Before the game, it was announced Hyde would not be starting because of a “class issue.” Freshmen Dontre Wilson and Ezekiel Elliott played in place of Hyde, who returned on the third play of the game.
“I just kind of had my mindset ‘once you get in there, you have to go. You didn’t start the game off so once you get out there, you have to go,’” Hyde said in the postgame press conference.
Although Hyde did score twice in the first half, once rushing and once receiving, it wasn’t until late in the game when he left his stamp on the OSU record books.
After Illinois cut the lead to 12 points with 8:49 left in the game, Hyde scored on back-to-back runs of more than 50 yards with less than five minutes left to put the game out of reach.
“That last one, in my head I was thinking like ‘we could have done this the whole game,’” Hyde said. “The offensive line, they love power and my receivers, they do a great job on the outside of blocking. I give credit to those guys and my big runs and the offensive line. That last run I had energy and I feel like we could have had that momentum the whole game.”
Junior quarterback Braxton Miller struggled on the day, only completing 13 of 29 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns, which forced OSU to rely on the running game.
“We went back to basics a little bit because the passing game wasn’t working as we thought,” Miller said. “We kind of got the ball out to Carlos or me. We’ve got the best (offensive line) in the Big Ten or country (so) why not?”
As a team, OSU totaled a season high 441 rushing yards against the Illini, with Miller also adding in a season-high 184 yards on the ground.
Hyde said he came into the game knowing success could be had against Illinois on the ground, then-ranked No. 117 in the country in rushing defense.
“I watched film and we have a cut out where it’s all explosive runs and I saw other teams have a lot of success on their running plays,” Hyde said. “I kept that in the back of my mind, ‘just be patient on your runs and let it come to you, and when it comes just explode.’ That’s exactly what I did.”
After the game, OSU coach Urban Meyer said he feels like Hyde has been under utilized so far this season, but it is nice to have a crutch like Hyde to lean on in tough situations.
“He’s one of the best players on the team. I used him way too much last year and I don’t feel like we used him much this year,” Meyer said. “When you’re struggling throwing the ball and they’re loading the box, you have to create (something and) he certainly did.”
Meyer added he thought the offensive line didn’t play “Ohio State-ish,” but improved as the game went on.
One of the lineman, redshirt-senior left tackle Jack Mewhort agreed with Meyer, and added although Hyde’s performance was big, it could have been a lot bigger.
“We have a lot of stuff to clean up. That wasn’t, in my opinion, one of our best performances on offense,” Mewhort said Monday. “We had a big rushing game but we left a lot of yards out there so it could have been better … Carlos runs hard and if we block the guys we’re supposed to block, we’re going to get a lot of yards.”
Next up, the Buckeyes (10-0, 6-0) are scheduled to face another bottom five run defense in Indiana (4-6, 2-4), who ranks No. 122 in the country but No. 16 in total offense, Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Ohio Stadium.