One made history and the other went down in infamy.
As for the latter, that came after a nasty on-field confrontation between Ohio State and Michigan players early in the second quarter of their game Saturday at Michigan Stadium. Buckeye kick returner Dontre Wilson was ejected after throwing punches. Michigan backup linebacker Royce Jenkins-Stone was thrown out of the game for pulling Wilson’s helmet off.
And that gets us to the Bucks’ starting right guard, senior Marcus Hall, who was ejected and as he walked off the field raised both arms skyward and gave a double middle-finger salute to the Michigan folks in the crowd of 113,511.
While all this was going on OSU running back Carlos Hyde — unlike quarterback Braxton Miller, who ran onto the field and joined the scrum — stayed on the sidelines and waited for the OSU offense to take the field again.
Better than a couple of middle fingers, he knew he could stick it to Michigan by simply wrapping his arms around the football and barreling forward, leaving a sprawl of Wolverine defenders in his wake.
And that’s exactly what he did Saturday.
The 235-pound senior ran for an Ohio State record 226 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown on 27 carries as the unbeaten, No. 3-ranked Buckeyes outlasted Michigan, 42-41, and catapulted themselves into position for a shot at the national title after No. 1 Alabama lost to Auburn later Saturday.
OSU coach Urban Meyer called his Buckeyes’ toe-to-toe battle with Michigan “an instant classic.”
This game — which extended OSU’s winning streak to 24 going into the Big Ten title game with Michigan State next Saturday — had several Buckeye stars, including Miller (three rushing touchdowns and two TD passes), linebacker Ryan Shazier (14 tackles) and redshirt freshman cornerback Tyvis Powell, who intercepted Michigan’s two-point pass attempt to win with 32 seconds left.
But no Buck impacted the game more than Hyde.
And that’s even counting a late-fourth-quarter fumble that Michigan would eventually turn into a touchdown. As soon as OSU got the ball back, Hyde carried on four of the Bucks’ six plays and scored the go-ahead TD on a one-yard surge that he capped off by stiff-arming Wolverine defender Desmond Morgan straight backwards.
Once in the end zone, Hyde give a quick, bulging-biceps muscle pose. That got the message across far more emphatically than Hall’s classless gesture.
Afterward, Hyde knew he had eclipsed Beanie Wells’ 2007 record of 222 yards against Michigan, but he passed the credit on to his blockers: “I want to give thanks to my offensive line. They did a great job today. They’re the best line in the country. They helped me make history, so they made history with me.”
In turn, the line praised Hyde.
“The Ohio State-Michigan game is always about toughness,” said left guard Andrew Norvell, “and today Carlos Hyde was as tough as they come.”
Center Corey Linsley agreed: “I don’t think there’s been a running back like Carlos Hyde, at least not that I remember. He plays as hard and gives as much for his team as a guy can.”
Over the years other Buckeyes have put their signatures on the Michigan game — Chic Harley had four interceptions in OSU’s 13-3 win in 1919, Chris Spielman had 29 tackles in 1986, David Boston had 10 catches for 217 yards and two scores in 1998 and Troy Smith threw for 316 yards and four touchdowns in 2006.
Teammates said Hyde did the same in ways both obvious to the fans and known only to them.
When Hall was thrown out, redshirt freshman Pat Elfein was pressed into action as his replacement.
“Carlos is a great leader — he really brings juice to the huddle,” Elfein said afterward. “When I came in, he told me, ‘OK man, let’s go. This is your time. Let’s suck it up. You gotta be ready.’”
Hyde said he felt he needed to say something at that moment: “I just told the offensive line, ‘Let’s go. Let’s pick it up. We just lost a piece of our offense. Let’s go out and play for those two guys we lost.’ ”
That Hyde kept his head during the flare-up may have something to do with lessons he learned this past July when he was involved in an altercation with a woman in a Columbus nightclub. Although no charges were filed and the woman did not want to press the matter, the public backlash in some quarters was intense and Meyer suspended him for the first three games of the season.
After he returned, Hyde had a huge game — 168 yards rushing and three TDs — against Northwestern. Afterward, as he stood at the podium answering questions, he suddenly broke into tears when he talked about his suspension and the “mistakes” he made.
Saturday, he was asked about the early chippiness of the game: “There was a bunch of talking and that’s not our game. We shouldn’t be out there doing that. We haven’t done that all year, and we shouldn’t do it now that it’s a big rivalry game.”
Hyde decided to let his running state his case and he rattled off runs of 19, 17 and 33 yards. His fumble came as he churned for extra yards with 10:30 left in the fourth quarter.
Meyer said he had warned Hyde he was carrying the ball too loosely, and though the coach was “disappointed” about the miscue, he put the ball right back into his big back’s hands.
Afterward, he sang his praises.
“At Boston College, my friend Steve Addazio has got a great back as well (Andre Williams), but if we had a draft, I got mine.”
Left tackle Jack Mewhort felt the same. He said Hyde is the kind of back you want in a pressure game: “He’s got everything you want to see in a big game like this. He’s very passionate, but he doesn’t get rattled. You couldn’t ask for any more. What he does, everyone can see right there on the stat sheet. That’s his statement.”
And that certainly tops the one Marcus Hall made.