The Ohio State Buckeyes will go as far as running back Carlos Hyde takes them.
That became clear from the senior’s impressive showing during Ohio State’s nail-biting victory over rival Michigan, 42-41, on Saturday.
Hyde ran with a full head of steam from the opening kickoff, racking up 226 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. That includes finding the end zone for the eventual game-winning score from a yard out with 2:20 remaining in the fourth quarter.
It was his second rushing performance of 225 yards or more in the season, making Hyde the first player in school history to accomplish the feat. The only other Buckeye with two career games of 225 yards or more is Archie Griffin.
It’s been that kind of year for Hyde.
In nine games, he’s rushed for 1,290 yards and 14 touchdowns on 165 carries. Furthermore, Hyde has topped the century mark in seven consecutive contests, totaling all 14 of his touchdowns during that span.
CBS Sports’ Bruce Feldman wonders just how special this season could have been for Hyde:
— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) November 30, 2013
Hyde missed Ohio State’s first three games due to suspension stemming from an incident that took place at a downtown bar back in July.
Going off his averages of 143.3 yards and 1.6 touchdowns per game, Hyde would likely be sitting at 1,720 total yards and 19 touchdowns had he played all 12 games. It'd be hard to keep a player with that kind of stat line out of New York City for next month's Heisman ceremony.
With that said, ever since his return, the Naples, Fla., native has more than made up for his poor decision-making over the offseason.
Hyde came up big during the Buckeyes’ first real test of the season—a road matchup with then-No. 16 Northwestern—rushing for a then-career high of 168 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries. All three of those scores came late in the second half of a hard-fought win, 40-30.
The following week, he added another stellar effort to help carry Ohio State past Iowa, 34-24. Hyde rushed for 106 of his 149 yards and found the end zone twice in the second half.
Good run defense or not, it doesn’t matter: Hyde will get his yards.
Already this season, he’s had success against Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa and Penn State—units that rank No. 7, 13, 18 and 38 respectively against the run.
However, up next Hyde will face his toughest test yet: Michigan State and the No. 1-ranked run defense in the Big Ten title game next week. The unit allows just 59.4 yards per game and 2.2 yards per carry while conceding just five rushing touchdowns all season.
But it's hard to bet against Hyde.
Time and time again, when the Buckeyes found themselves in a hole, it was Hyde who reached down and pulled the team back onto solid ground.
What more could you ask from your senior leader than that?
All stats and rankings used in this article are courtesy of NCAA.com.