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December 8, 2013

Hyde and seek

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Dejected and subdued, Carlos Hyde spoke quietly and slowly as he tried to process and articulate Ohio State's first loss in two seasons.

Still dressed in his gray game pants, his head drooped a bit while talking to reporters. He winced at questions about how a 34-24 loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game abruptly broke a 24-game winning streak and cost the Buckeyes its first chance at a national championship in more than a decade.

Most of all, Hyde seemed confused.

Why didn't coach Urban Meyer and the coaching staff ask him to hoist their title dreams upon the broad shoulders of his 240-pound frame?

"I just felt like we could've ran the ball the whole game in the second half," Hyde said. "I feel like we could've got any yardage we needed."

Then he digressed.

"But you can't question the coaching call," Hyde said.

Surely, though, much will be made about Meyer's decision to give Hyde -- who's run for 1,408 yards and 14 touchdowns this season -- just 18 carries on a day where Ohio State's passing offense sputtered.

While Hyde rushed for 118 yards on his relatively limited amount of touches, he seemed agonized by the notion that he could've done more -- particularly during a first-half stretch that saw the Buckeyes stumble into a 17-point hole against the Spartans.

"I feel like we could of did plenty of things in the first half, but you can't question the coaching, the play calling," Hyde said. "You just go with it."

Trailing, 17-10, at intermission, Hyde had 37 yards on eight carries before Meyer and company turned to him help ignite a floundering offense falling well-below average outputs of 48 points and 531 total yards a contest.

"In halftime, we just felt like that was their best shot and that's all they have so let's really go out this second half and show them what we really got and give them our best shot," he said.

So Hyde and Ohio State came out of the locker room swinging.

In just the third quarter, he exploded for 74 yards on eight carries to help guide the Buckeyes to 24 unanswered points and their first lead of the night with about five minutes to play in the period.

And, for a while, it looked like the Buckeyes might continue to batter the Spartan's vaunted run defense with such an approach.

"We didn't really pay too much attention to it," Hyde said of the aurora surrounding Michigan State's top-ranked unit. "We let the media and everybody hype that up being the number one defense. In our mind, we're just gonna come out and play our game, we're gonna run the ball, we don't care if they the best defense in the nation.

"We don't care about that. We're gonna do what we do best and that's run the ball."

But Ohio State veered away from Hyde late in the game, giving him the ball just twice for a measly seven yards in the fourth quarter. In the final 15 minutes of play, the Buckeyes were outgained by the Spartans, 174-25, before watching their dreams of a Big Ten title and possibly more crumble with every tick of the clock in the game's waning minutes.

In an ideal world, would Meyer have liked more touches for his running back?

During his postgame press conference, the exasperated and exhausted coach looked up from the game's final stat sheet and simply offered a "Yeah," before fixating his tired eyes on the piece of paper again.

"We hurt right now," Hyde said.

It's likely a sting that'll linger.

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