Carlos Hyde Has Kept Ohio State Undefeated the Last 3 Games

Andrew CoppensContributor IOctober 22, 2013

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 19:  Carlos Hyde #34 of the Ohio State Buckeyes spins away from defenders John Lowdermilk #37 of the Iowa Hawkeyes and Anthony Hitchens #31 of the Iowa Hawkeyes in the second quarter for a 17-yard gain at Ohio Stadium on October 19, 2013 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

When people caught wind of Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde's suspension for allegedly slapping a woman at a Columbus night club this summer, the reaction was interesting to say the least.

Some thought it wasn't a big deal because Ohio State was loaded at the running back position and Hyde wasn't that good to begin with. His numbers in 2012 (970 yards and 16 touchdowns) were just a byproduct of teams having to focus on Braxton Miller all the time.

At least that was the spin by some in Buckeye nation.

Yet, over the past three games one could easily argue that without the results Hyde put up, Ohio State isn't sitting here 7-0 heading into a matchup with Penn State this week.

The Buckeyes have won each of their three Big Ten games to date by 10 points or less and Hyde's importance to each of those results has increased by the week. 

In the Buckeyes' Big Ten opener at home against Wisconsin, Hyde was a huge part of the way things went down at the start of the game when Ohio State jumped out to a 17-7 lead by the early parts of the second quarter.

On the night, Hyde managed 85 yards on 17 carries, but he had 38 of those 85 yards on three key carries in the first three OSU drives as the Buckeyes went up 14-7.

He went for 15 yards for a first down on a 2nd-and-4 on the opening drive that ended in a touchdown, then went for 11 yards on another 2nd-and-4 on the second drive for Ohio State and capped it all off with a 12 yard run on the third drive, which also ended in a touchdown. 

His influence on the outcome of the game came early against Wisconsin, but that wouldn't be the case over the course of the next two weeks. 

In the prime-time matchup against Northwestern, Hyde had 168 yards on 26 attempts and 3 touchdowns. He also added four receptions for 38 yards in the win. The 168 yards were a career best for Hyde as well.

More importantly, Hyde did his damage when Ohio State needed him the most—the second half. 

Once again, Hyde's greatest impact came in the half that carried Ohio State to victory. He had 112 of his 168 yards in the second half and all three of his touchdowns as well. All this with Ohio State down 20-13 at the half. 

Then, against Iowa this past weekend he racked up 106 yards and two touchdowns as the Buckeyes ran away with the second half (outscoring Iowa 24-7) on the way to a 34-24 victory. 

After the Iowa game, Hyde was named one of OSU's "Three Stars" of the game. 

It's extremely hard to argue Hyde isn't an important cog and perhaps the most important reason Ohio State won each of its first three Big Ten matchups, especially when you see him doing things like this 19-yard touchdown run this past weekend: 

For sure, it wasn't Braxton Miller winning the night in Evanston two weeks ago, having arguably his worst game of the season, it was all on Hyde to gain and maintain the momentum in crucial situations. 

All of that adds up to a player who's value to the Buckeyes may have been vastly understated this past offseason.

However, anyone that saw the game against Wisconsin last year and just how important he was when the Badgers bottled up Miller, would have known Hyde's value was more than just raw numbers. 

Although, if Hyde continues on his current pace of just under 111 yards rushing, he'll have a heck of a shot at being the first running back to go for 1,000 yards under Urban Meyer's coaching. 

Just how "unimportant" does Hyde look now? I dare say OSU's success or failure will have much to do with what Hyde is contributing as anyone else on offense—at least that's what the numbers are telling us.


*Andy Coppens is the Big Ten Lead Writer. You can follow him on Twitter: @ andycoppens.