ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan was within seven points of archrival Ohio State when Buckeye senior running back Carlos Hyde fumbled for the first time this season.
The Wolverines (7-5, 3-5) capitalized, scoring on the ensuing drive to tie the game at 35 with 5:01 remaining, which gave Hyde and the Buckeyes a chance to regain the lead.
“It was real important,” Hyde said. “My mindset once I got back was ‘coach (Urban Meyer is) going to put the ball back in your hands, you got to make up for that fumble,’ and that’s exactly what I did.”
On OSU’s next drive, Hyde ran the ball four times for 21 yards. The drive included what ended up being the game-winning touchdown with 2:20 left on the clock.
The No. 2-ranked Buckeyes (12-0, 8-0) went on to pull out a 42-41 victory against Michigan to complete their second straight undefeated regular season, with Hyde proving vital for OSU’s success.
The fumble came on a play where, Hyde said, he was just fighting for a couple extra yards.
“I was surprised on that one that I was still up,” Hyde said. “I was still pushing and you know, I (saw) that I was past the first down (because) I had looked over and I was past the first down, and you know, the ball just came out.”
The Naples, Fla., native ran for 226 yards on 27 carries, the second straight road game he has rushed for more than 200 yards. He also broke the OSU record for rushing yards in The Game, previously held by running back Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells, who ran for 222 yards against Michigan in 2007.
Hyde said the Buckeye offensive line performed well and was a big part of his success.
“It means a lot. I want to give credit to my offensive line,” Hyde said. “They did a great job today, great job. That helped me make history, so those guys are going (into) history with me.”
Since returning from a three-game suspension earlier in the season because of an incident at a Columbus bar in July, Hyde has averaged 143.3 yards on the ground per game. He has also eclipsed the 100-yard mark in every game since an 85 yard outing against Wisconsin Sept. 28. The Buckeyes will need him and the offensive line clicking on all cylinders Saturday when they take No. 10 Michigan State (11-1, 8-1) in the Big Ten Championship, who sports the nation’s No. 1 run defense, giving up only 64.8 yards per game.
Redshirt-senior center Corey Linsley said Hyde is a player like he hasn’t seen in his time in football.
“That guy, that’s one heck of a player right there. You don’t see guys like him around very often. I don’t think there’s been a running back like him that I can remember — that played as hard, that’s given as much for his team as he has on the field,” Linsley said. “I’m just very proud to be blocking for him.”
Redshirt-senior left tackle Jack Mewhort said Hyde’s ability to keep calm during adversity has been a boost for the Buckeyes throughout the year.
“Carlos is a very even-keeled guy, he doesn’t ever get too high or too low which is something good you want to see out of your running back, especially in big pressure situations like that,” Mewhort said. “He runs really hard and is very passionate about it and we love him for that. Obviously results show on the stat sheet after the game so I think he did a great job and I’m really proud of him again tonight.”
Hyde said despite the up and down day the focus was to win at all costs.
“I’m just happy that we got that win today. That win right there is huge,” Hyde said. “We take a ‘L’ right there, that’s the undefeated season, all that don’t even matter anymore, so I’m just happy that we got the win.”
The game against the Spartans Saturday is scheduled for 8:17 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.