COLUMBUS, Ohio – Braxton Miller played probably the best game of his college career. Carlos Hyde played the type of game that’s becoming his standard.
A runner and a thrower — not just two runners — were good enough to overcome a three-quarter no-show by No. 3 Ohio State’s defense Saturday and extend Ohio State’s win streak to 19. For the second straight game, these Buckeyes overcame a second-half deficit by riding Hyde.
He was a bull.
His 19-yard touchdown run that put Ohio State (7-0) up for good with 13:24 left was one for the ages as he bounced off tacklers, bounced outside, then regained his balance after taking a low hit that turned him all the way around. Hyde gathered himself, squared his shoulders back towards the goal line along the Iowa sideline and then leapt over the last would-be tackler to complete a play that had to be seen to be believed.
Speaking of belief, every time it looks like Ohio State is going to run out of luck, the Buckeyes find an answer. At Northwestern two weeks ago and again Saturday Hyde was a big part of that, but he wasn’t alone. Miller kept plays alive, threw the ball accurately and looked healthy — as healthy as he’s been all season. Miller missed three games after spraining his MCL in early September.
Now, it’s Winning Time and Ohio State has its formula. Style points be damned; the Buckeyes are riding Miller (324 yards of total offense) and Hyde (149 rushing yards and the first two rushing touchdowns Iowa has allowed all season) and are making opposing defenses miss tackles the same way Ohio State is. Iowa led at halftime Saturday, 17-10, and the game was tied going to the fourth quarter.
Miller threw for 222 yards and kept the Buckeyes in positive down and distance situations, and he mixed solid with spectacular. Right before Hyde’s highlight reel run was a third-down conversion on which Miller first tried to pass and ended up circling the defense for a nine-yard gain and a first down.
Again, the Buckeyes were less than perfect but remain unbeaten. They’re lucky and good, and they kept their really big goals in play.
“I’ve learned a lesson in my life,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “I’m going to enjoy this win.”
Sometime Sunday Meyer will click back into coaching mode and won’t enjoy watching the Ohio State defense, which stunk for most of three quarters and certainly missed top cornerback Bradley Roby after he was ejected for targeting in the first quarter. But the Buckeyes finally got pressure on Iowa quarterback Jake Ruddock in the fourth quarter and Tyvis Powell’s interception sealed it with 4:21 left.
Injured safety Christian Bryant served as captain for the coin toss, but he’s done for the season and Ohio State is still struggling to replace him. Iowa had touchdown drives of 12 and 15 plays in the first half, when it converted seven of nine third downs and held a 6:10 time of possession edge.
“I felt like we were getting pushed around in the first half,” Meyer said. “I was very disappointed. It was much better in the second half.”
In the second half, Iowa only had the ball for 6:55. Ohio State only led in the game for a little more than 15 minutes, but a straight-ahead offense put it away. There are four seniors on Ohio State’s offensive line, Hyde is a senior, Miller is a third-year starter and all involved
“The offensive line did a hell of a job,” Miller said.
Said Meyer: “The offensive line, that’s where winning football starts.”
Miller was 22-for-27 passing, setting a personal best for completions in a game and had his 10th 100-yard rushing game. He went over 300 yards of total offense for the seventh time.
Meyer has never had a running back have a 1,000-yard season, but Hyde is within range of being first — and that’s after missing the first three games due to suspension. With five regular season games left and no reason to think Ohio State is going to cut his workload, Hyde has 443 yards. In his last three games, he’s averaging six yards per carry and has scored five touchdowns.
“We got together at halftime and talked about we had to score,” Hyde said. “We had to help our defense, just put points on the board.”
Hyde’s twisting and turning touchdown run will be remembered for a long time. With each win, this Ohio State team moves closer to achieving the same.