COLUMBUS – First they put their footprints on the thin blanket of snow on the artificial turf at Ohio Stadium. Then they left their mark on OSU’s football program.
With a 42-14 win over Indiana on Saturday, Ohio State (11-0, 7-0 Big Ten) established the school record for most consecutive football wins at 23,
Win No. 23 meant they surpassed the old streak of 22 in a row they shared with the Ohio State teams of 1967-69. That streak began in November 1967, continued through the national championship season of 1968 and ended in the epic 1969 Michigan game.
Outdoing that streak left footprints that will last much longer than those in the snow on the field.
“Ohio State is going to be Ohio State forever. Ohio State has been playing football since 1890-something. Just to have people look back and know that this team holds the longest winning streak and to know I was part of that team is going to be really special for me,” senior offensive tackle Jack Mewhort said.
“I don’t think it has really sunk in yet. It’s a great day for us,” he said.
Running back Carlos Hyde looked at the streak from a historical perspective, too, and said, “That’s huge. Ohio State has been here for years. To be the first team to have this long a winning streak, that’s huge.”
The outcome and the establishing of a new benchmark for consecutive wins were never in doubt.
Ohio State jumped out to a 28-0 halftime lead and added on two more second-half touchdowns to go up 42-0 before Indiana got two scores in the final 5:59 of the game.
Quarterback Braxton Miller rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns and completed 11 of 17 passes for 160 yards and two more TDs.
Hyde became the first running back to go over 1,000 yards in a season on an Urban Meyer-coached team. He needed 53 yards and got 117 on 18 carries. It was the sixth game in a row over 100 yards for the 230-pound senior.
Hyde’s 1,000 yards came in eight games. He was suspended for OSU’s first three games after being involved in a dispute with a woman in a Columbus nightclub last summer.
“During my suspension I told myself it was still possible,” Hyde said. “I told myself, ‘You just have to go harder now.’ ”
Ohio State clinched its first trip to the Big Ten championship game against Michigan State on Dec. 7 in Indianapolis with the win. It was 6-7 in 2011, the first year for the championship game, and was ineligible for postseason play last year when it went 12-0.
Meyer called consistency the key to winning 23 games in a row.
“Every once in a while, you take a peek at the scoreboard and you see scores, you see what happened there. And for this team to do it 23 times in a row, that’s an incredible testimony first of all to the players,” he said.
“We kind of talked around that thing like a team going through a no-hitter,” he said, with a smile.
Indiana (4-7, 2-5 Big Ten) came into the game second behind Ohio State in the Big Ten in scoring and last in defense.
The Hoosiers showed some offensive skills, rolling up 442 yards of total offense, but those yards didn’t produce any significant points. And while IU’s defense wasn’t shredded as badly as it was in a 51-3 loss to Wisconsin a week earlier, it allowed touchdowns the first two times Ohio State had the ball, setting a tone for the game.
Miller brought some excitement – and a little fear – to Ohio State fans with two touchdown runs in the first half that both ended with him diving head-first into the end zone.
The first came on a 37-yard run on which Miller somersaulted across the goal line. On the second, a 5-yard run, he lined up as a receiver, took a pitch from Kenny Guiton, hurdled Indiana’s Tim Bennett and landed on his head in the end zone.
“I was just having a little fun,” Miller said. He said this was the first time he had played without a knee brace since spraining a knee ligament against San Diego State, which allowed him to run freely.
Meyer said, “He’s a great athlete. I’d rather he not do that, but he’s got to do what he’s got to do. He played really well today.”
Ohio State will dive into a game against its biggest rival, Michigan, this Saturday in Michigan Stadium.
The Wolverines dropped to 7-4 overall and 3-4 in the Big Ten after a 24-21 loss to Iowa on Saturday.