COLUMBUS – After Carlos Hyde ran for a career-best 246 yards in Ohio State’s 60-35 win over Illinois on Saturday, he contemplated what it will be like to play his final home game in Ohio Stadium against Indiana this Saturday.
“It’s going to be a sad one, but I’m going to enjoy it,” Hyde said.
And that prediction he was going to enjoy the game against Indiana was made before he discovered that the Hoosiers’ defense allowed 554 yards rushing in a 51-3 loss to Wisconsin on Saturday.
Wisconsin had three running backs gain more than 100 yards and seven running plays gain more than 30 yards.
After feasting on Illinois’ defense, Hyde could have another as far as you can run football buffet in his future against Indiana.
Hyde’s 246 yards tied Archie Griffin for third place on the all-time OSU single game rushing record list. The only bigger rushing games were 274 yards by Keith Byars against Illinois in 1984 and Eddie George’s Heisman Trophy-clinching 314-yard game against Illinois in 1995.
His big game didn’t start out as anything out of the ordinary when he rushed for 60 yards on 9 carries in the first half when Ohio State jumped out to a 28-0 lead early in the second quarter.
But when the going got tougher than expected and Illinois got to within 12 points, 47-35, with 8:49 to play, Hyde took the pressure off with a 51-yard touchdown run and a 55-yard touchdown run in the final four minutes of the game.
“I was just thinking, ‘Man, we could’ve done this the whole game,’” Hyde said.
He said he stayed patient because he had studied film of Illinois’ defense, which surrendered 371 yards rushing against Indiana last Saturday among other less-than-impressive performances.
“I kept that in the back of my mind. I told myself to just let them come to you and just explode. So that’s what I did,” Hyde said.
Hyde has 947 yards this season despite being suspended for the first three games of the season.
He did not start Saturday’s game and sat out the first two plays because of what coach Urban Meyer described as an academic issue.
He also was stopped for a loss for the first time this season when Illinois linebacker Jonathan Brown dropped him for a two-yard loss late in the second quarter. That tackle came on his 105th carry of the season.
Ohio State (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten) can clinch a trip to the Big Ten title game with a win over Indiana (4-6, 2-4 Big Ten). And, with 53 more yards, Hyde can become the first running back on a team coached by Urban Meyer to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.
TACKLING MACHINE: With Ohio State’s other two starting linebackers sidelined by injuries, the only remaining starter at that position, Ryan Shazier, had 16 tackles, 3.5 tackles for losses and 1.5 sacks.
The absence of injured starters Curtis Grant and Joshua Perry illustrated the lack of depth for OSU at linebacker. Of the five OSU linebackers who got onto the field in any role on Saturday, three were walk-ons.
This lack of available linebacker talent might have been a contributing factor to Ohio State giving up 35 points after surrendering only 14 in its last two games.
While Shazier was supportive of Camren Williams, who started in place of Grant, he admitted the defense as a whole has to improve from what it did Saturday.
“I’m not satisfied because you don’t want anyone to score any points on you, but 35 is way too much,” Shazier said.
“If the offense isn’t the offense that it is right now, this could have been a different situation. We gave up too many points today and we just have to work on it and fix it this week.”
MEWHORT INJURY: Left tackle Jack Mewhort was in and out of the lineup against Illinois after hyper-extending his knee in practice.
The loss of Mewhort for part of the game subtracted more than an excellent blocker from OSU’s offense, coach Urban Meyer said.
“He’s not just a great player. He’s the man, he’s the leader out there,” Meyer said.
HE’S STILL THE BOSS: OSU’s game against Illinois was the fifth time Meyer has coached against one of his former assistant coaches and he is 5-0 in those games.
Illinois coach Tim Beckman was Meyer’s defensive coordinator at Bowling Green.