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October 29, 2013

Hyde battering teams into submission

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- In the show that is undefeated Ohio State, Carlos Hyde holds a starring role and seems more aware of that notion with every carry.

The senior running back, whose nickname "El Guapo" doubles as his Twitter handle, is also uninhibitedly mindful of the character he plays for the No. 4-ranked Buckeyes.

"I'd probably keep it simple," he started, "and tell them I'm a violent runner that can break away."

That might be why Hyde has become rather acquainted with the figurative white flag of a team that's simply had enough of his battering, crushing 6-foot, 230-pound frame.

"We like to call that No Mas," Hyde, who is evidently aware of at least two Spanish phrases, said. "It's pretty easy to tell when guys don't want no more, they don't even want to tackle you no more and the offensive line is just blowing guys off the ball."

Such was the case against a leaky Penn State defense that broke like a hastily built levee in a 63-14 thrashing Saturday night.

Aside co-star quarterback Braxton Miller in an offensive output of historic proportions against their opponent from State College, Pa., Hyde had 147 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. Most of that, of course, came before intermission against a Nittany Lions squad that surrendered 42 points and 414 total yards before the end of the first half.

In fact, if you're keeping count, Hyde has totaled 464 yards and seven touchdowns since a hosting a one-man, season-saving stampede of 168 yards and three scores against then-No. 16 Northwestern.

And, so far, that gutty 40-30 win against the Wildcats in Evanston, Ill., might be somewhat of the climax for an Ohio State team that's won 20-straight games in search of its first national title in more than a decade.

Hyde, who surged late for the unbeaten Buckeyes of 2012, has seen this film before. "Right now, it kind of reminds me of my senior year of high school because my junior year in high school, it was kind of similar to the one I had last year," Hyde said of his time at Naples High School in Naples, Fla.

For Hyde, "kind of similar" meets oddly coincidental considering he finished with exactly -- no more, no less -- 970 yards rushing in his high school and collegiate junior seasons.

"My senior year," Hyde said, " I just came out on another level."

As far as he can remember, that final go in Naples ended with about 1,600 yards rushing. And if this season is any indication, Hyde's past might explain the present.

"I kind of feel like it's all happening again," he said, "and it's pretty cool to see it happening at another level."

Part of that deals with seeing things on the field that were just a tad too blurry a year ago. Playing in coach Urban Meyer's offensive system probably didn't leave him with another choice.

"This is my second year of being here with coach Meyer, I have a real good feel of the offense now, real comfortable back there with the running plays and the passing plays so I think it's just being comfortable," he said.

But Hyde, who might be seriously one of the best running backs in the nation, looks far from pleasant and casual with a football tucked forcefully into his armpit.

When he isn't uploading filtered photos of him trampling defenders to Instagram, he's quite actually trampling defenders or at least watching film of himself doing it before trotting out to practice to master that craft of controlled recklessness.

Hyde, though, offered the idea that he's more than a single-faceted talent.

"I don't mind the contact, but I would definitely like to just out-sprint somebody to the end zone," he said.

"People underestimate my speed, they probably don't think I have any. They see me just running between the tackles the whole game. Sometimes I show a little bit and I'm waiting for that one big run -- like a 70 yarder. Something like that. Just really show it off."

He might have that chance against a 1-6 Purdue team giving up 193 rushing yards a game. Arguably, the Boilermakers are definitively the Big Ten's worst crew.

Naturally, Hyde expects them to give the Buckeyes its best punch.

We're Ohio State. I feel like people's gonna play us their best. That's what I expect, I don't expect teams just to come out and just lay down and just let us have our way. I feel like they going to come out and give us their best shot and, I mean, that's what I want," he said.

"I want a team to come out and give us their best shot. So when we win, we can say we beat them with their best shot."

Hyde and company have yet to suffer much of anything close to resembling a knockout blow.

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