Night in Shining Armor
Emotional Carlos Hyde Saves Buckeyes, Himself in Comeback Against Northwestern
By Brandon Castel
EVANSTON, Ill. — Carlos Hyde saved his team from its first loss on Saturday.
In many ways he saved himself.
Two months ago, Ohio State’s senior tailback was a few hazy details away from being done with football, at least in Columbus. His head coach, Urban Meyer, nearly kicked Hyde off the team for his poor decision at a downtown nightclub. Meyer’s undefeated streak likely would have ended on Saturday without a heroic performance from that same kid looking for redemption.
“It's definitely something I've been waiting for,” Hyde said, a tear rolling down his cheek.
“The suspension was hard. That was one of the hardest things I've ever gone through, but I just kept my faith. I prayed to God every night that he would get me through it and I would for another chance like this.”
Hyde paused at the podium during his postgame press conference, his white jersey still stained with green from the 30 times he handled the football against Northwestern on a sloppy, overgrown pasture at Ryan Field in Evanston. His eyes welled with tears and he struggled to form his words. He gripped his nose and pressed on his eyes to fight back the tears, but they were coming out whether he liked it or not.
“That suspension, it really hurt,” said Hyde, who was emotional after missing the first three games of his senior season as a result of the offseason incident.
“Not being out there on the field with my brothers because I made a mistake.”
Hyde made up for that mistake on Saturday, at least from a football standpoint.
“We all make mistakes,” sad Meyer, who opted to suspend Hyde indefinitely instead of kicking him off the team back in July.
“His whole career was kind of a mush. I hope this is a game-changer for him, even when he's done playing football.”
The 230-pound senior took the ball time and again, slicing through Northwestern’s defense and bouncing off defenders on his way to three touchdowns and over 200 yards of total offense.
He broke a more than 40-minute stretch without a touchdown for the OSU offense with his 4-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter, but Hyde was only getting started.
“He's a beast,” wide receiver Corey Brown said of his classmate.
“We're so grateful to have him back. Everything that he's been through, I'm so happy for him.”
The Wildcats had two weeks to prepare for the OSU offense, and the team’s Heisman Trophy-caliber quarterback. Nothing could have prepared them for Carlos Hyde on Saturday night.
Nothing short of a brick wall, or Pat Fitzgerald slapping on a uniform instead of his Northwestern pullover jacket. Even Fitzgerald in his prime would have struggled to slow down a back running with as much passion and ferocity as Hyde on Saturday.
“I went in the locker room and told the offense, 'That's unacceptable,'” Hyde said after the Buckeyes scored seven of their 13 first-half points on a blocked punt by Bradley Roby.
“That's not us. We score points. We don't kick field goals.”
From there, Hyde decided to take matters into his own hands. All Northwestern could do was try to get in his way. After rushing for 56 yards in the first half, Hyde racked up 102 yards on the ground in the second half. He controlled most of the third quarter and scored three touchdowns over the final 20 minutes of the game.
His 4-yard touchdown run in the third quarter made it a 23-20 game after the Wildcats had gotten out to a double-digit lead on three-straight field goals. Hyde would score again from two yards out to give the Buckeyes a lead with 11:29 to play on a play that had to be reviewed before the referees ruled Hyde had stretched the ball across the plain.
Northwestern re-took the lead on a touchdown pass from Trevor Siemian to Cameron Dickerson with just over nine minutes to play in the game, but Hyde would dance into the end zone from seven yards out with 5:22 remaining to give the Buckeyes enough for a victory.
With Braxton Miller struggling (two fumbles and one interception) and Jordan Hall sidelined by a knee injury, Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes had no where else to turn except to hand the ball to No. 34 over and over again.
And every time, he delivered.
“I think he's a great player,” said Meyer, who improved to 18-0 as the head coach at Ohio State.
“And that shows you how much I trust the kid, that we were able to do that.”
It was the kind of trust Hyde had been praying for since he nearly lost it forever.
“I tell him every game, ‘remember what we had to go through,’ ” said junior cornerback Bradley Roby, who served his own one-game suspension to start the season.
“Remember the struggles, remember when we thought there wasn't going to be a brighter day for us. I always tell him to use that anger and that passion to the run ball and he's doing that and I'm loving it.”
That passion is what kept Hyde going Saturday, even after he took a hard shot late in the game. He was slow to get up and stood on the field buckled over, holding his side, but two plays later he was back in there making plays for the Ohio State offense.
“When I’m out there I cherish every moment,” said Hyde, who finished with 207 total yards in Ohio State’s 40-30 win over Northwestern.
“I’m excited and I’m loving every moment of it. I’m hungrier than I’ve ever been in my career and more thankful.”
That showed Saturday, but not until after the game.