Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde (34) scores a touchdown as teammate Marcus Hall, right, tries to block Illinois defenders Mike Svetina, left, and Earnest Thomas. Hyde rushed for 139 yards and three TDs.
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COLUMBUS — Urban Meyer thought little of Carlos Hyde when he arrived at Ohio State last winter.
Meyer questioned the junior running back’s work ethic and priorities. Recall Hyde’s post on Twitter that he would “take myself elsewhere” after a game last season in which he saw little action.
“He was kind of a guy that didn’t have a great reputation,” Meyer said. “Our first month together was not pleasant.”
Now, he is among the biggest reasons the sixth-ranked Buckeyes remain perfect.
Hyde’s bruising performance in Ohio State’s 52-22 victory over Illinois at Ohio Stadium was the latest in a line of them. He rushed for 139 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries — his third 100-yard rushing effort in the last four games.
Hyde now has 11 rushing touchdowns in the last five games and, more importantly, has detoured from Meyer’s doghouse to favored status.
“He’s a genuine guy,” Meyer said Saturday night. “I really appreciate who he is as a person. I think the perception of him was incorrect.”
Hyde, meanwhile, said he is simply enjoying the ride.
“I like the position we’re in,” Hyde said. “For us to come out with a good game on both sides of the ball, that’s big going into the bye. We know we have two big games left. We know the stakes.”
POWER OUTAGE: No public address announcer. No monster HD video screen. No AT&T ads on the ribbon boards.
Ohio Stadium returned to a simpler time for part of Saturday.
A power outage about 20 minutes before the game left the sound system silent and the scoreboards dark. The juice returned to the game clock just before kickoff and to the video board minutes into the game, though the pregame blackout forced officials to make up for lost time — including holding a previously scheduled moment of silence midway through the first quarter.
REST UP: With Ohio State heading into a bye week, Ohio State’s starters earned a day off from practice.
“There are no rights around here,” Meyer said. “That’s earned time. If they didn’t play well, we would have been in there [today] working and going all week like a normal work week. They earned it. I’m proud of them.”
Meyer said the break in the schedule comes at the perfect time.
“We’ll get their body weights back up,” he said. “This is the first year these kids had to deal with semester academic [schedule]. They’re hitting the wall right now with how long they’ve been in school.”
MILLER CLIMBING: Don’t put those record books on the shelf just yet.
Braxton Miller, who last week became the first OSU quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, continued on Saturday to close in on single-season school records for touchdowns and total offense. Miller has accounted for 27 touchdowns — four shy of the 31 from Bobby Hoying (1995) and Troy Smith (2006) — and amassed 2,919 yards of total offense. Hoying holds the school mark with 3,290 yards in 1995.
KYNARD SPARKS ILLINI: Give an assist to St. John’s Jesuit graduate Tim Kynard on the Illini’s first touchdown.
Late in the third quarter, the junior defensive tackle recovered a fumble by Rod Smith on the OSU 42 that set up an eight-play, 42-yard Illinois scoring drive. Kynard entered the game with 10 tackles — including three for a loss — in seven games.
Illinois scored again when Ashante Williams returned a wayward option pitch by OSU backup quarterback Kenny Guiton for a 77-yard touchdown.
BROWN OUT: Injury added to insult when the Illini lost their top defensive player in the first quarter.
Junior linebacker Jonathan Brown, who had 17 tackles against the Buckeyes last season, left the game with a shoulder injury. A semifinalist for the Butkus Award, given to the nation’s top linebacker, Brown began Saturday with a team-high 55 tackles.