Buckeyes will be taking strong ground game to Michigan

Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde had a new experience against Indiana on Saturday when he played in the snow for the first time.

With the wind howling and the flakes falling, the teams had to deal with blizzard-like conditions at times.

“It didn’t have too much of an effect on me, other than some of the snow was getting in my eyes,” the senior from Naples, Fla., said.

Hyde may have had some visibility issues, but he seemed to have no trouble finding holes while rushing for 117 yards and two touchdowns in 18 attempts. He became the 20th player at OSU to top 1,000 yards in a season and the first running back to reach that milestone in Urban Meyer’s 12 years as a college head coach.

“When you’re an offensive lineman, you kind of live vicariously through the other skinny guys on offense. That was pretty special to be a part of,” senior tackle Jack Mewhort said of Hyde’s accomplishment.

“It goes to show that when people want to talk about this offense and talk about spreading the ball out and everything, that’s not what it is. We take a lot of pride in (the running game). I’m sure it feels good for him, but it feels good for us as an offensive line to see the fruits of our labor.”

With Hyde at 1,064 and quarterback Braxton Miller at 738 with the three games to go, OSU could have two players top 1,000 in the same year for only the second time in its history. Archie Griffin and Pete Johnson did it in 1975.

The unbeaten Buckeyes (11-0, 7-0 Big Ten) have surpassed 300 yards rushing in four straight games, and that success on the ground has bolstered their confidence as they travel to Michigan to face their rivals for the 109th time on Saturday.

While their offense has been purring all season, the Wolverines (7-3, 3-3) are a mess. They’ve averaged 216.5 total yards in their last four games — losses to Iowa, Nebraska and Michigan State and an overtime win at Northwestern.

But the Buckeyes aren’t counting on seeing that same form from Michigan during their clash before 110,000 or so fans at the Big House.

“I’m expecting That Team Up North to bring their ‘A’ game, and we are certainly going to bring ours,” Hyde said. “It’s going to be an exciting game, my last against them. I’m really looking forward to it.”

“If we were 0-11 and they were 0-11, it still would be the greatest game in college football,” linebacker Ryan Shazier said.

Meyer is 1-0 in the series, winning 26-21 last year with a far more pedestrian offense, and the Buckeyes have prevailed in 10 of the last 12 meetings.

“I’ve not really watched much of them on videotape, but I have great respect for this rivalry, and I am humbled to be a part of it,” he said. “When I say great respect, it almost makes me in awe.”

He added with a smile: “Eight of my nine (assistant) coaches are from the state of Ohio, and one wishes he was from Ohio (co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers hails from North Carolina). The respect of being a part of it is incredible. I’ll say this: the responsibility sometimes can be overwhelming.”

Tackle record: Co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell wasn’t keeping track of Ryan Shazier’s gaudy stats during the game, but he knew the speedy junior was omnipresent while notching 20 tackles, including five for losses.

He had 16 solo tackles, tying the school record set by Tom Cousineau in 1978.

“You’d like to say you coach them up to do those things, but the reality is players make plays. He did a great job,” Fickell said.

“Down on the field, it’s hard to see some of those things. I had no idea. But then you hear some of the offense coaches say, ‘Wow, man, he really was all over the place.’ “

Ticket info: The Buckeyes will play Michigan State in the Big Ten title game at 8:17 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, in Indianapolis. Upper-level seats at Lucas Oil Stadium, priced at $57.75-$97.75, are still available and can be purchased through Ticketmaster.

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