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COLUMBUS — Iowa’s defense became the last in the nation to surrender a rushing touchdown Saturday. In fact, the Hawkeyes gave up a pair on the ground.
Both were scored by Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde. The first was rather routine, a one-yard plunge that pulled his team even early in the second half.
The second was anything but. It brought down the house and may well have saved the Buckeyes’ season.
Hyde scored from 19 yards out early in the fourth quarter to snap a tie game as OSU went on to win 34-24 at Ohio Stadium.
But this run, not to mention one from quarterback Braxton Miller that preceded it, begs for verbs and adjectives.
The Buckeyes were at the Iowa 38, facing a third-and-7, when Miller rolled right on a keeper. He was headed off at the pass near the sideline, reversed field, out-sprinted a couple defenders, got to the left sideline, made a hard cut, and dived past the first-down marker. It was a nine-yard gain on about a 40-yard jaunt.
The announced crowd of 105,264 roared, but it hadn’t seen anything yet.
Miller handed off to Hyde, who swept right before being grabbed and spun out by an Iowa tackler. Hyde was staggered a bit, losing his balance, and he actually took a couple strides in the wrong direction before righting himself, spinning back around, and heading the right way.
Hard against the sideline, Hyde brushed off one Hawkeye with a little help from a block, and then leaped over linebacker James Morris at about the 3-yard line and sailed into the end zone to put the Buckeyes ahead 31-24.
“I’ve never had a run like that, but that play was working all day,” Hyde said. “The safety came up and hit me and I thought he had me. I came out of it, and I was still up.
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“I was like, ‘Let me catch my balance,’ and once I did I turned around and was like, ‘Man, I haven’t even scored yet.’ When I saw Philly Brown’s block, I got excited and I just went in for the touchdown.”
And Miller’s reaction:
“God-given. To be tackled like that and somehow keep moving forward and then dive in, that’s sweet.”
On OSU’s next possession, a 28-yard gain by Hyde set up a Drew Basil field goal for a 34-24 lead and Buckeye fans could finally exhale after a truly entertaining game that saw two pretty defensive-minded teams combine for 870 yards of offense.
Ohio State made it 19 straight wins since the start of last season while improving to 7-0 overall and 3-0 in the Big Ten. The hopes and dreams for a league championship and, just maybe, a shot at a national title remained alive.
But all of that was very much in doubt with a quarter to play after one of Iowa’s deep stable of tight ends, Jake Duzey, got loose behind two defensive backs and hauled in a long pass from Jake Rudock, going 85 yards to tie the score at 24.
Miller, who accounted for a combined 324 yards passing and running, and Hyde, with 24 carries for 149 yards, came up big for the Buckeyes after they trailed 17-10 at halftime.
The Hawkeyes (4-3, 1-2 Big Ten) ran 37 plays that produced 199 yards on their first three possessions of the game.
“I was very disappointed; I thought we were getting pushed around,” OSU coach Urban Meyer said.
“That’s not the type of defense we want to play,” linebacker Ryan Shazier said. “That’s not the type of defense we’re known for. At the half, some players and coaches just basically said, ‘we need to get it together.’”
With the exception of one breakdown in coverage that produced the 85-yard Iowa scoring play, that’s what the Buckeyes did.
Given defensive stops, Miller said everything changed in the second half.
“Somebody pointed that out,” Miller said, referring to Iowa having the ball for 18 of the 30 minutes in the first half. “They were just trying to run the clock down so we couldn’t be on the field and score points. We just needed stops on defense. That’s what they did [in the second half] and we took advantage.”
Devin Smith, who matched a career high with seven catches, also scored a second-half touchdown for OSU on a 14-yard reception.
“You don’t get prizes for playing a good first half,” lamented Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz.
But a lot of prizes are still out there for the Buckeyes, thanks to an explosive second half.
Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6398.