After watching his Ohio State team get pushed around by Northwestern for a majority of Saturday's game, Urban Meyer turned to his most physical runner, Carlos Hyde, to give the Buckeyes a lift.
Hyde delivered with one of the best performances of his collegiate career, running for a game-high 168 yards and three touchdowns to lift the Buckeyes to a 40-30 victory.
He was the difference between a win and a loss against the Wildcats. He's also the difference between Ohio State being a very good team and an elite team.
As a power back, Hyde lacks the game-breaking speed and shiftiness that Meyer usually prefers in his running backs. When Meyer was hired by Ohio State in 2011, Hyde was concerned he wasn't a fit for the spread offense.
"I was like, I don't see no big dude running around, except for Tim Tebow, and he's the quarterback," Hyde said, according to Ben Axelrod of BuckeyeGrove.com. "I don't play quarterback."
As it turned out, Hyde's physical running was exactly what Meyer needed to guide the Buckeyes to an undefeated 2012 season.
The 6'0", 235-pound running back exploded for 970 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. Hyde posted those numbers despite missing two-and-a-half games after spraining his MCL (the same injury Braxton Miller suffered against San Diego State) early in the season.
Hyde surged in Ohio State's final seven games, running for 812 yards and 14 touchdowns. Despite Miller's brilliant play, it was Hyde who paced the Buckeyes down the stretch.
After serving a three-game suspension for an offseason incident at a Columbus bar, Hyde returned for Ohio State's 76-0 rout of Florida A&M in Week 4. He led the Buckeyes with 85 rushing yards against No. 23 Wisconsin.
Hyde was just getting his legs back. Against Northwestern, he looked like he was in midseason form.
Carlos Hyde is a truck disguised as a running back.— ESPN (@espn) October 6, 2013
Ohio State came out of the gate looking to throw the ball against the Wildcats. Miller struggled, turning the ball over two times to Northwestern's opportunistic defense.
After the Wildcats took the opening drive of the second half down the field and added a field goal, the Buckeyes were staring down the barrel of a 10-point deficit with their 17-game winning streak hanging in the balance.
Hyde came to the rescue.
Meyer and the coaching staff made a concerted effort to get the ball in Hyde's hands, and he didn't disappoint. Hyde ran for 112 yards in the second half and scored all three of the Buckeyes' offensive touchdowns.
The stats suggest Hyde got stronger as the game went on. The coaching staff is hoping he has the same effect on the team as it goes through the second half of the regular season.
“When I’m out there I cherish every moment,” Hyde said, according to Brandon Castel of The-Ozone. “I’m excited and I’m loving every moment of it. I’m hungrier than I’ve ever been in my career and more thankful.”
His teammates are even more thankful he's back in the fold.
“He's a beast,” Corey Brown said, via Castel. “We're so grateful to have him back."
And now that Hyde is back, Ohio State is one of the elite teams in the country.
All stats via NCAA.com.
David Regimbal is the Ohio State Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report.
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.
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