Ohio State Buckeyes Survive Northwestern Thanks to Carlos Hyde

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Updated: October 6, 2013

The Ohio State Buckeyes did nearly everything in their power to lose a primetime, road matchup against No. 16 Northwestern on Saturday night. However, no matter how much the defense bent and how many times starting quarterback Braxton Miller put the ball on the ground, starting running back Carlos Hyde would not let the Buckeyes leave Evanston anything but undefeated.

After missing the first three games of the season due to suspension, Hyde had a coming out party of sorts—racking up 168 yards and three touchdowns on the ground on 26 carries. The 6’0” and 240-pound back literally put his teammates on his shoulders, dragging them down the field three times in the second half—two of those coming in the fourth quarter. In fact, not only did Hyde set a career record for himself in rushing yards, he also was the team’s second leading receiver with four catches for 38 yards.

If anyone was worried about Hyde having rust after carrying the ball just 22 times for 126 yards and zero touchdowns in his previous two games, he answered that question in a big way against Northwestern. With the team’s leading rusher—Jordan Hall—out with a tweaked knee, it was the Hyde show all night long against the Wildcats. In fact, it has been his show since last week as Hall recorded just one rush against Wisconsin.

While Hyde was easily the most impressive part of this game, Miller left a lot to be desired. He completed 15-of-26 passes for 203 yards on the night, while rushing 17 times for 68 yards. While those are not bad numbers, his three turnovers (two fumbles and one interception) nearly cost the Buckeyes in this one. His performance was so far under expectations that head coach Urban Meyer stated he was “very close” to putting in senior backup Kenny Guiton.

The interception Miller threw was not really his fault, as a defender hit him squarely on the arm as he was attempting to hit Philly Brown with 20 seconds left in the first half. But those two fumbles are completely on Miller, and were another topic of conversation in Meyer’s post game interview. Meyer said Miller carried the ball loosely and that it would be addressed and worked on this week in practice.

Even with all of the problems with Miller, nothing was more disappointing than the effort again put forth by the Buckeyes secondary. Trevor Siemian and Kain Colter carved up the Buckeyes at will to the tune of 25 completions on 31 attempts for 343 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

The Buckeyes were again in a soft zone, often 10 yards off wide receivers at the line of scrimmage. The result was easy pass after easy pass and a 67-yard quick pass that Bradley Roby saved from being a touchdown thanks to his elite speed. Roby once again did not live up to his first round NFL Draft status, getting burned on a number of routes throughout the course of the game. He did have the big punt block for a touchdown early in the game, but that does not make up for the deficiencies against the pass.

Maybe the Buckeyes defensive staff knows something the rest of us do not, but their team has been atrocious against the pass all season long—yet somehow they are still 6-0 after their two biggest tests of the season to this point. With a bye week coming up, Meyer better get together with his defensive group to come up with some sort of plan of attack in regard to this major issue—especially since it is very possible they will have to meet Northwestern again in the Big Ten Championship game.

One player who deserves special acknowledgement for his continued consistency is Philly Brown. The Buckeye wide receiver hauled in six passes for 127 yards on the night—running his season total to 30 receptions for 381 yards and five touchdowns. He continues to find the hole in the team’s zone night in and night out and settles down as a reliable option for whoever is under center. He also has game-breaking, big play ability which forces defenses to provide him with extra attention each night.

It wasn’t pretty, but the Buckeyes conquered adversity to outscore the Wildcats 27-10 in the second half for a 40-30 win. People will try to downplay this as a bad win for the Buckeyes, but the fact of the matter is that Northwestern is a tough team that had an excellent plan of attack at an upset bid. But thanks to Hyde and a few big plays from the defense and special teams, Ohio State stymied that attempt to remain undefeated.

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