Buckeyes Extend Winning Streak to Claim Division Championship
By Rob Ogden
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Playing for the final time in Ohio Stadium, 18 seniors helped the Buckeyes extended one streak and end two others.
Ohio State (11-0, 7-0) defeated Indiana (4-7, 2-5) 42-14 for its 23rd-consecutive win, a new school record, and earned it's first appearance in the Big Ten title game while Carlos Hyde became coach Urban Meyer's first 1,000-running back.
Always forward-focused, the Buckeyes spoke little about the winning streak for the previous 10 weeks of the season, but finally opened up about the historic accomplishment following the win.
"For this team to win 23 times in a row, that's an incredible testimony, first of all, to the players," Meyer said. "We kind of avoided that thing like a team going through a no-hitter. Now that they have it, they talked about it, and it's over. We can move on to rivalry week."
No one, possibly, has been more instrumental in the 23 wins than Hyde, who eclipsed the century mark Saturday despite missing the first three games of the season due to suspension.
It was one of the few accomplishments Meyer — winner of two national championships and owner of two undefeated seasons — had yet to reach.
Photo by Dan Harker
"(Meyer) joked about it earlier in the week," Hyde said. "He was telling me he wasn't gonna put me in so I wouldn't get it. It means a lot. For those guys up front, to have a thousand-yard back, it's pretty big."
With snowflakes falling as fast as records inside Ohio Stadium, the Buckeyes stuck with the ground game as Hyde carried the ball 18 times for 117 yards.
He came into the game needing 53 yards to reach 1,000, and hit it right on the dot midway through the second quarter.
Quarterback Braxton Miller rushed 13 times for 159 yards and two acrobatic touchdowns, the second of which came on a handoff from quarterback Kenny Guiton.
Photo by Dan Harker
"The name of the personnel is Jazzy," said Guiton, another senior. "I come in and a receiver comes out and Braxton goes to receiver. We've been practicing it for a while so we were ready."
The play was one of only a handful that Guiton took under center, but regardless, the Houston native said it was a day to remember.
"I've been through a lot while I've been here and the last two years have been pretty good," said Guiton, who easily received the loudest ovation from fans when his name was announced pre game. "That was very warm to hear the crowd do that for me.
"It's surreal. It's my last game in the Shoe. I thought I'd never see that come. I felt like I just got here yesterday. It's crazy."
Saturday was about honoring seniors, but defensively, junior linebacker Ryan Shazier stole the show.
Shazier, playing in what could possibly be his last game in Columbus, recorded a season-high 20 tackles, including five tackles for loss and a sack. He also had a forced fumble.
"Lately, I've been playing for (injured safety Christian Bryant)," Shazier said. "I was playing for Christian and the seniors to make sure they go out with a bang. I was just doing everything I can to make sure this team has a wonderful victory."
Shazier said the 20-tackle game was the first of his football career.
"It's real big," he said. "They said it's the first one since A.J. Hawk and that really means a lot to be in his company."
When asked if he thought about it possibly being his final home game as a Buckeye, Shazier said it hadn't crossed his mind.
"Honestly, I wasn't even thinking about that," he said. "I was just playing for Christian and the seniors today. I wasn't even thinking about me or my future."
Almost lost in all the excitement was the fact that the Buckeyes clinched the Leaders Division championship for the second consecutive season.
Unable to play in the game in 2012, the Buckeyes already know this season's Legends Division representative will be Michigan State, as the Spartans clinched their spot with a win over Minnesota Saturday.
The Buckeyes' focus, however, is on another team from Michigan.
"I'm thinking about them year round," Guiton said about the Michigan Wolverines. "W'ere ready to go. It's gonna be a big week. We'll be ready."
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