Carlos Hyde seeks big finish in Orange

January, 1, 2014
Jan 1
8:30
AM ET
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Carlos Hyde's numbers are a bit off.

The Ohio State running back brought up the Discover Orange Bowl record for rushing yards on Tuesday, saying he thought it was 226. It's actually 206 yards, accomplished by Nebraska's Ahman Green in 1998 vs. Tennessee. But the point remains the same: Hyde wants to own that record at the conclusion of Friday night's game against Clemson.

[+] EnlargeCarlos Hyde
Jason Mowry/Icon SMIOhio State's Carlos Hyde has his eyes set on an Orange Bowl rushing record.
Unprompted, Hyde mentioned that goal to reporters in an interview session. So, yeah, the Buckeyes senior is confident in his own ability. How confident? He said that after being suspended for the first three games of this season for a summer altercation with a woman at a nightclub, he aimed to become the first player to win the Heisman Trophy despite missing that much time.

That didn't happen, but Hyde still finished with 1,408 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns, averaging 7.7 yards per carry. How many yards would he have rushed for had he played the whole season?

"There's no telling," he said. "I think I would have gotten close to 2,000."

And would that have earned him a place in New York for the Heisman ceremony?

"I probably would have got [the trophy]," Hyde says, laughing.

Hyde doesn't think any defense can stop him, and he's got a point. The Big Ten's Ameche-Dayne Running Back of the Year gained at least 100 yards in his final eight games and topped 200 twice. He had 226 yards in the regular-season finale against Michigan, which is maybe why that number stuck in his head. Hyde said his favorite moment of the year was his 19-yard, pinball-style touchdown run against Iowa. He likes to replay that on YouTube and said he watched it again as recently as Sunday.

Yet, in Ohio State's Big Ten championship game loss to Michigan State, Hyde received just 18 carries and none in the fourth quarter. He was noticeably upset about it after the game, telling reporters that he felt like he could have done more. The Buckeyes went with Braxton Miller on a keeper on the key play of the game, a fourth-and-2 from the Michigan State 39-yard line. The Spartans' Denicos Allen stopped Miller a yard short of the first down.

"It definitely ate at me," Hyde said. "Me and the offensive line, we knew we could have had a lot more success in the running game. But I can't really question the coaches' calling."

Hyde said he asked Urban Meyer for the ball before that fourth-down play.

"I forget what the answer was," he said. "It was a good call, though. The guy [Allen] just made a good play."

Hyde hopes to be a bigger factor against Clemson, which ranked No. 51 in rush defense this season. The Tigers gave up some big days to backs like Georgia's Todd Gurley (154 yards on just 12 carries) and Syracuse's Jerome Smith (125). But they also held national rushing champion Andre Williams of Boston College to just 70 yards on 24 attempts.

Clemson safety Robert Smith said Hyde reminds him of Williams, only "a little more elusive and a little bigger." Linebacker Stephone Anthony sees some Gurley in Hyde's style.

"It's close, because Gurley is a creature, and Carlos Hyde is a creature," Anthony said. "We're going to have to show up. You've got to bring all you've got."

Hyde said he "prays it will be a run-heavy game" on Friday and that 25-to- 30 carries would be ideal. And that might be Ohio State's best chance to win this one, as its defense has struggled down the stretch and now is dealing with some key absences and injuries going against a high-powered Clemson passing attack.

"They have some explosive guys on the other side of the ball and can score points really fast," Hyde said. "So we want to keep the ball in our hands a lot. If it comes down to where it's like a shootout and a lot of points are scored, then it might not be that good for us. You want to control the clock to keep their offense off the field."

Clemson's defenders are wary of trying to bring down the 235-pound Hyde, especially as the game wears on and if it's a humid night in Florida.

"You can't expect him not to break a tackle, because that’s what he's done all year," Smith said. "That's the type of back he is, and he expects to break a tackle. We've got to swarm to the ball."

This game represents a homecoming of sorts for Hyde. Born and raised in Cincinnati, his mother sent him to live with his grandparents in Naples, Fla., at the age of 15 to escape the violence of his neighborhood. Hyde played only two years of high school football but was still a blue-chip recruit who said he had offers from every major Florida school. He left his college choice up to his mom, who preferred he return closer to home at Ohio State.

Hyde went to Fork Union Military Academy for a year after high school to shore up his grades. He still has many friends in the south Florida area and says he likes to spend his free time hanging out with buddies in Fort Lauderdale. If he couldn't have made it to Pasadena for the national title game, this is the next best thing.

"I mean I could have asked for a better way [to go out]," he said, "but this is not bad. Being back home in Florida is not a bad way to end my career."

An Orange Bowl rushing record could provide the perfect ending.

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