His quarterback called it “God-given.” One of his offensive lineman said when he watched it unfold, he knew it would be all over TV Saturday night. His offensive coordinator called it a “wow” play.
Even senior running back Carlos Hyde said he surprised himself when he was able to keep his balance on the way to the end zone during what was arguably the play of the game Saturday. No. 4 Ohio State’s running back’s 19-yard touchdown run gave OSU (7-0, 3-0) the lead for good in its 34-24 victory against Iowa.
Hyde took a handoff from junior quarterback Braxton Miller, first running right then cutting upfield and knifing through tacklers until he met Hawkeye safety, Tanner Miller, who dove at the Buckeye back’s legs to no avail. Hyde kept his balance, turned himself back straight, got a block and then launched himself into the end zone from about four yards out.
“I was shocked that I was able to gain my balance back and be able to turn around and go in for a touchdown,” Hyde said. “(I’ve) never had a run like that. That play, it was working all day. And I told (running backs) coach (Stan) Drayton we need to run a little more of it. On that play, I hit it up inside and bounced right back out and the safety came down. He hit me, and I came out of it and I was still up and I was trying to catch my balance, and once I did, I turned back around and I see (senior wide receiver Corey) ‘Philly’ Brown with an unbelievable block
“I got so excited and I (hadn’t) even scored yet when I saw that block.”
Miller said Hyde’s acrobatic touchdown allowed him to show off his natural talent.
“That run by Carlos, it’s God-given,” Miller said. “To be tackled like that and keep moving forward, that’s sweet.”
Putting the Buckeyes ahead with the athletic touchdown scamper shows that Hyde is much more than just a player who can only run the ball inside, redshirt-senior offensive lineman Jack Mewhort said.
“While I was watching it, I was thinking that’s going to be on SportsCenter. I don’t know if I’m right about that, but that was unbelievable,” Mewhort said. “His balance to stay up like that and then power it in. Everybody thinks Carlos is a between-the-tackles guy but once he gets out in space like that, he can do some cool stuff, too, like you saw, breaking tackles and stuff.”
It was Hyde’s second rushing touchdown of the game, following a one-yard push on OSU’s first drive of the second half that tied the game. That score was the first time Iowa’s defense had given up a rushing touchdown in 2013.
“It’s something that (the coaches) made sure we were well aware of two weeks ago. It’s kind of been our mindset … through the bye week and through this week,” Mewhort said. “That’s a goal we wanted to achieve. We’re glad we did that.”
One of the coaches Mewhort was referring to was co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, Ed Warinner, who said the unit wanted to end Iowa’s streak “very badly,” so much so that each offensive player was given a sheet of paper with the statistic on it.
“They were reminded of that multiple times per day,” Warinner said. “‘Course they heard that every day from me. That was on my tip sheets, but as a coaching staff we gave that to our offensive unit and coach (Urban) Meyer talked with them about it specifically. That’s a credit to Iowa’s defense. They hadn’t given up a rushing touchdown in six games so that’s a challenge that we needed to win this game, we needed to be able to get some rushing touchdowns. That’s who we are.”
The offense had an extra incentive to put an end to the streak, Hyde said.
“It was definitely some motivation. You’re playing against a team who tries to feed off that,” Hyde said. “Early in the week I talked to (the offensive line) and let them know that ‘We’re going to do what we do.’ And that’s run the ball.”
The Buckeyes certainly did that, as Hyde rushed for 149 yards on 24 carries to go along with his two touchdowns, and Miller recorded 102 yards on the ground himself.
“It was a great performance by those guys (the O-line),” Hyde said. “I love those guys to death and I’m happy to be able to run behind those guys and it’s exciting to see them … have success, it’s nice. When they go, I go.”
Despite Hyde’s three-game suspension stemming from his involvement in an incident at a Columbus bar over the summer, Saturday’s performance made him the team leader in rushing yards. Gaining a total of 443 yards on 72 attempts in only four games is a result of the chemistry between Hyde and the O-line, something that’s been building since day one at OSU.
“The reason we have such good chemistry is because, like I said, we all came in together,” Hyde said. “When you’ve been here four to five years, you kind of become like brothers. Like real brothers. That chemistry is great that we have.”
The senior from Naples, Fla., said the line’s performance was “incredible” multiple times after the game. Meyer took it a step beyond that.
“I feel good about the line and that’s where winning football, certainly offensive football, starts,” Meyer said. “And they’re my favorite players on the team. Those five guys, that’s where you start.”
Even if OSU is on the wrong side of the scoreboard during the game, Hyde said the team continues to believe it will come out on top.
“That just shows you that we refuse to lose. We are a group of brothers. There’s not one point in time that we think that we are going to lose the game,” Hyde said. “We could be down 20 points, and we’re still going to believe that we can come back and win this game. Have faith.”
Hyde and the offensive line will be looking to keep the nation’s longest winning streak alive next Saturday when Big Ten rival Penn State (4-2, 1-1) comes to Columbus. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. at Ohio Stadium.