The play was a simple one — a routine handoff up the middle to senior Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde for seven yards.
At the end of those seven yards, though, stood another number — one that had evaded OSU coach Urban Meyer’s running backs for the better half of his 12 year coaching career — 1,000.
Hyde became the first running back on a Meyer-led team to rush for 1,000 yards in a season Saturday, slicing his way through the Indiana defense for 117 yards on 18 carries and into his own place of history.
“It means a lot,” Hyde said about eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark. “Definitely for those guys up front and the tight ends and the receivers, to have a 1,000-yard back and to be able to block for a 1,000-yard back, that’s pretty big for them.”
The 2013 football season has been one of highs and lows for Hyde, who missed out on OSU’s first three games (against Buffalo, San Diego State and California) because of his involvement in an incident at a Columbus bar in July.
“That suspension, it really hurt, not being out there with my brothers, because I made a mistake,” Hyde said as he fought through tears Oct. 5 after leading his team to victory against Northwestern, carrying the ball 26 times for 168 yards and three touchdowns. “It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to go through.”
From suspension, to earning his way back into the starting lineup for OSU’s game against Wisconsin, to being the horse that has carried the load alongside junior quarterback Braxton Miller, Hyde has come a long way.
“(He’s) completely different,” Meyer said of Hyde Nov. 18. “First off, he’s more mature. I love Carlos. He was immature a couple years ago — like very immature. He handles his business.”
Another person who’s seen the running back’s growth is Miller, who said Hyde’s play exhibits one important thing.
“Leadership,” Miller said after OSU’s 63-14 victory against Penn State Oct. 26. “From where he grew from last year and that little incident he had, (he) just felt like he’s got to prove himself even more. Things like that happen.”
History had not served Meyer’s running backs well before Saturday afternoon, as the ballcarrier to get to closest to the 1,000-yard mark was Hyde himself in 2012 when he rushed for 970 yards. That, of course, was a sanctioned year for the Buckeyes, who went undefeated but were unable to play in the postseason because of a NCAA bowl ban.
It is likely Hyde would have surpassed the 1,000-yard mark last season had his team been able to play in the postseason, but both his and the success of the program have continued as Saturday’s 42-14 win against Indiana (4-7, 2-5) was the Buckeyes’ 23rd straight.
“We play together. It’s not just one person or anything like that,” Hyde said after the win against the Hoosiers. “It’s really like a brotherhood here and that shows … We stick together and we know that we going to come out with a win.”
The game against the Hoosiers also clinched a spot in the Big Ten Championship game for the Buckeyes, who are set to join the No. 11-ranked Michigan State Spartans (10-1, 7-0) Dec. 7 in Indianapolis.
During his 1,000-yard campaign, Hyde has averaged 7.7 yards per carry and scored a team-high 13 rushing touchdowns. His season high for a game came two weeks ago against Illinois when he ran for 246 yards, but the time his team needed him most might have been against Northwestern. With the Buckeyes trailing by 10 late in the third quarter against the Wildcats, they turned to their star back, who scored three straight touchdowns to help keep their win streak alive.
“I wanted it bad. Some games, it comes down to you know, the last quarter where coach put the game in my hands,” Hyde said following the win against the Wildcats. “I’m made for that. I’m made to carry the ball that many times.”
Two weeks later against Iowa, Hyde snagged two more touchdowns — the second of which came when the game was tied and put the Buckeyes ahead for good. The run was an impressive one, as Hyde bounced off a defender to regain his balance and then leap over the pylon for the touchdown.
“I’ve never had a run like that but that play was working all day,” Hyde said after. “The safety came up and hit me. I came out of it and I was still up. I was like, ‘Let me try to catch my balance.’ Once I did, I turned around … I was like, ‘Man, I haven’t even scored yet.’ When I saw (wideout Corey ‘Philly’ Brown’s) block, I just went in for the touchdown.”
That game was never the same after that run, as the Buckeyes went on to win by 10.
It’s been that kind of a season for Hyde—– whenever his team needs a big play, it goes to him. And getting 1,000 yards? The thought of it never left his mind, even when he had to sit out those three games.
“You know, during my suspension, I told myself, it’s still possible. You just got to go even harder now,” Hyde said Saturday. “That’s exactly how I play right now … my mindset is I got to make up (the) time. So that’s how I play.”
The senior running back will look to add to his season rushing total of 1,064 yards Nov. 30 when the Buckeyes (11-0, 7-0) are scheduled to head to Ann Arbor, Mich., to take on the Wolverines (7-4, 3-4). Kickoff is set for noon.