Since becoming the coach of Bowling Green in 2001, current Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer has never had a running back rush for 1,000 yards in a season.
In that same time frame, OSU has had seven seasons where a running back reached the milestone, with Chris “Beanie” Wells and Antonio Pittman each doing so twice in back-to-back seasons.
Now, as the end of the 2013 season rapidly approaches, senior running back Carlos Hyde is on pace to break Meyer’s streak, and exceed the 1,000 yard plateau. Hyde sits at 701 yards on the season, having reached that mark in only in six games after he was suspended by Meyer after his involvement in an incident at a Columbus bar in July.
After the Buckeyes’ 56-0 victory against Purdue on Saturday, Hyde said his goal to reach 1,000 yards isn’t just about personal achievement.
“I really want to get that 1,000 yards,” Hyde told cleveland.com. “Not just for me, but for the offensive line, just to have a 1,000 yard back and for coach Meyer.”
Hyde came close in 2012, finishing the season with 970 yards despite missing two games with a sprained MCL.
Upon his return from the suspension this season, Hyde was limited in his first game back against Florida A&M Sept. 21, only rushing five times for 41 yards.
Since that point though, Hyde has averaged 132 yards per game on the ground. If he keeps it up, this pace will have him at 1,000 yards by the end of the regular season.
After the Oct. 5 game against Northwestern, when Hyde led the Buckeyes to a 40-30 comeback victory, Hyde said his play since the suspension has been all about atoning for his mistake.
“I missed out on those three games, you know, I can’t get those games back,” Hyde said. “I go out every game with a mindset that I have to make up for those three games … I’m running with a whole different demeanor than what I would have had in the beginning if I didn’t get suspended. I have a different hunger for the game basically.”
Against the Wildcats, Hyde ran for a career high 168 yards and three touchdowns, all three of which came with OSU trailing.
In the win against Purdue last weekend, Hyde only carried the ball eight times, his lowest total since playing Florida A&M. Despite the lack of touches, the Naples, Fla., native still ran for 111 yards, averaging almost 14 yards per carry.
Junior tight end Jeff Heuerman said after the game against the Boilermakers, having explosive players helps open up the field for the rest of the OSU offense.
“Like I’ve said before, having a running back like Carlos Hyde and a quarterback like (junior quarterback) Braxton Miller … having all those guys being so productive, it puts me in a position where I can make my block easier sometimes,” Heuerman said.
Miller said after the game against Penn State Oct. 26, Hyde has grown up as a player and a leader from last season, with the suspension motivating him to play even harder.
“Leadership from where he grew from last year and that little incident he had,” Miller said. “Just felt like he’s got to prove himself even more.”
Hyde rushed for 147 yards and two touchdowns against Penn State, despite not playing for a majority of the second half.
“Carlos didn’t play but two and a half quarters if I remember right. That’s a lot of yards against a team we have a lot of respect for,” Meyer said.
Co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Ed Warinner agreed with Meyer, adding that Hyde’s ability helps to motivate the offensive line to play well.
“They feed each other. Carlos runs over people and finishes runs and that gets the offensive line fired up and they work even that much harder to create holes, and it’s a highly motivated group,” Warinner said after the Penn State game.
With the potential to break the 1,000-yard mark getting closer, Hyde faces a favorable schedule in the coming weeks. The Buckeyes’ next two opponents following the bye week are Illinois and Indiana, currently ranked No. 114 and No. 115, respectively, in the country in rush yards allowed per game.
The game against Illinois is scheduled for Nov. 16 in Champaign, Ill., with the Buckeyes returning home the following week for their final home game of the year against Indiana Nov. 23.