COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A position-by-position look at a perfect season for Ohio State, continuing today by rewinding to look at the explosive play in the backfield and the emergence of a rusher who refused to go down easily.
Most valuable player: Thrust into the starting role thanks to a freak injury over the summer, Carlos Hyde didn't disappoint early in the season. After dealing with his own minor issue (a sprained knee) in September, Hyde again had to battle back and wait for a chance to make an impact for Ohio State's rushing attack. When Jordan Hall went down again with another injury, Hyde was ready to make the most of another crack at the first-team job and he never looked back. His physical style was complemented by underrated speed, and Hyde was a monster once the Buckeyes got near the goal line while ringing up 17 total touchdowns.
By the numbers: For all the fuss that had been made about Urban Meyer's offenses never having a 1,000-yard rusher, he probably should have had two of them in his first season with the Buckeyes. Braxton Miller's playmaking ability at quarterback helped give Meyer his breakthrough first, but if critics are still holding out because he's not had a true running back clear the barrier, they're holding on by a thread. Even after missing two games due to injury, Hyde came up just 30 yards short -- and considering he averaged 97 yards per game in his first, nearly full season as a starter, he was a lock to get there if the Buckeyes were eligible for the postseason.