Carlos Hyde's Place Amongst Ohio State Greats

By Chad Peltier on December 19, 2013 at 11:13a
Flexed his way in to a high draft position

The Michigan State loss has dampened our perception of an otherwise legendary season for many individual Buckeyes – and none moreso than Carlos Hyde. 

Hyde's season was among the most productive in the history of Ohio State running backs despite only playing in ten games. It's notoriously difficult to separate running back yards from offensive line yards statistically, but the combination was the Hemi V-8 engine for this record-setting offense.

From Hyde's nomination as Big Ten Player of the Year:

Earlier this week, Hyde was named the Big Ten's Ameche-Dayne Running Back of the Year. The senior from Naples, Fla., leads the Big Ten in rushing with 143.3 yards per game along with 14 touchdowns, including 156.1 yards per game in Big Ten play. Hyde, who has rushed for 589 yards and seven touchdowns in the last three contests, also was named first-team all-conference by both the coaches and the media. With 1,290 yards, he became the first running back for an Urban Meyer-coached team to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. He rushed for at least 100 yards in each of the last seven games, including two 200-yard performances.

While the Buckeyes prepare for the Orange Bowl, we have ample time to appreciate Hyde's year, especially in comparison to the last two elite OSU running backs, Beanie Wells and Maurice Clarett. 

It's notoriously difficult to compare players across different years and teams. Different offensive lines, play calls, and other offensive threats on the team complicate simple comparisons of basic statistics. Then there's the issue of more advanced statistics being unavailable that far in the past, as Sabermetric-style statistics for college football are a relatively new phenomenon. 

Regardless, I attempted to do some basic comparisons between Hyde, Beanie, and Clarett to assess their overall rushing numbers, their value to the the team, and their performances against Michigan in the best years of their respective careers (this year for Hyde, 2007 for Beanie, and Clarett's only season in 2002). 

Basic Numbers

Hyde 183 1408 7.7 14 18.3 140.8 14/108
Wells 274 1609 5.9 15 21.1 123.8 5/21
Clarett 222 1237 5.6 16 20.2 112.5 12/104

Each of the three running backs could be counted on for close to six yards a carry and approximately 20 carries per game, but Hyde rumbled for almost 7.7 yards per carry and an extremely high running back success rate in Meyer and Herman's running back-friendly offense. Beanie was used (and needed) far more than either of the other two running backs.

Clarett and Hyde both got involved in the passing game, if only with one or two receptions per game. 

Team Players

  Hyde Wells Clarett
% Points Responsible 16% 26% 31%
% Yards Responsible 21% 31% 24%

El Guapo never stood a chance against the other two in these categories because 1. the team played three games (against cupcake defenses) without him, and 2. because the offense had other extremely potent weapons as well (Braxton, Philly, Smith, Wilson). 

Interestingly, Hyde and Clarett were similar in the percentage of total offensive yards responsible for, but differed widely in percentage of points responsible for. Despite missing three games and his offense producing nearly 2,000 more total yards during the year, Hyde and Clarett had fairly similar levels of yardage productivity.

Finally, it's hard to deny just how critical Beanie Wells was to the 2007 team after accounting for a fourth of total points and nearly a third of total yardage. Only Maurice "Rasta" Wells and the freshmen Brandon Saine and Boom Herron backed up Beanie in '07.

It's Michigan That Matters

If you're a traditionalist, this may be the only category that matters: 

Player ATT Yards YPC RBSR TD
Hyde 27 226 8.4 74% 1
Wells 39 222 5.7 54% 2
Clarett 20 119 6.0 50% 1
Hyde picked up his Wolverine hunting license this November tooAll three put up their best games against Michigan

All three were verifiable Wolverine killers. Hyde was the most productive (setting the bar for most rushing yards against Michigan in The Game) and efficient, Beanie was the battering ram with 39 carries, and Clarett the youngest and a crucial receiving threat as well. 


There are some obvious impediments to a satisfying conclusion for this comparison: Hyde is a senior while Beanie was a sophomore and Clarett a freshman, Hyde's offensive line was among the best in college football, none of these statistics are opponent-adjusted or "advanced" in any way, and Hyde had the benefit of two of the brightest football minds directing his offense. The only helpful clue we have for strength of schedule is that Sagarin has the Buckeye schedule 57 in 2013, 53 in 2007, and 30 in 2002. 

However, all three came up big in their biggest games. Beanie hit 222 against Michigan and 146 in the national championship, Clarett had 119 against Michigan (though just 47 against Miami's incredible rush defense), and Hyde had 226 against Michigan and 118 against the Spartans. Two of the three led the Buckeyes to national championship appearances, while Hyde (and a pass defense) was one game away from doing the same. 

So which Buckeye running back would you take if forced to choose one for a single game? It's easy to make an argument for any one of them based on the numbers alone. Regardless, Hyde has a case to be included amongst the great running backs in Ohio State history. 


Comments Show All Comments

dwcbuckeye's picture

7.7 YPC!  That is just sick. 

Buckeyebrowny919's picture

I"ve got a jersey for you in Cleveland, brah!....please?

To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift - Steve Prefontaine

SoDakBuckeyeFan's picture

I'll take Hyde everyday. Best since Eddie. 


2morrow's picture

Couldn't agree more - give him the ball 30-35 times against MSU and we are playing for the NC.

dan_isaacs's picture

Give it to him 19 times and we win.  :)

Dan Isaacs

alust2013's picture

Yep. And I agree with Dan as well, that had he gotten the ball on either third or fourth down before Sparty sealed it, that would have been a first down and a pretty decent shot at the win. That said, I think Jameis Winston would have an absolute field day against the secondary in that hypothetical matchup, which I'm not entirely certain would end well.

...and Michigan still sucks.

saevel25's picture

So which Buckeye running back would you take if forced to choose one for a single game? It's easy to make an argument for any one of them based on the numbers alone. Regardless, Hyde has a case to be included amongst the great running backs in Ohio State history.

I would take Hyde. Last year I would have taken Wells. I think Wells had much better vision to Carlos Hyde version 1.0 (last year). Especially his ability to hit the cut back for big gains. This years Hyde version 1.2 (the beast). He was able to weave his way through the line, when line was blocking in the 2nd level he was able to cut and hit the big gain to the outside. His vision and speed have improved, and he developed some game breaking speed. 

cinserious's picture

Against the Hurricane's 2002 run defense, I think Hyde would get his 100 yards. Against a less stout defense, Clarett is more likely to take it to the house. Beanie is most likely to get a destructive stiff-arm AND hurdle a defender on his way to a long TD run. I love all 3 of them.
My question is, which of the future RBs will be the next 'elite' one.

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

d5k's picture

EZE will get 1000 yards next season.  Book it.

blocko330's picture

I'm on the EZE train with ya D5K, can't wait to see that kid get some solid reps next year!

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”

- TruthTeller

kareemabduljacobb's picture

Should be pretty easy for him to do so if he indeed is the starter, or gets a bulk of the carries... especially if we were to make another run at the National Title... and lets say we do make the 4 team playoff and advance, that will be 15 total games to get over the 1000 yard mark.

2morrow's picture

You can almost see the next one in Elliott.

I_Run_The_Dave's picture

Last year I was a huge Rod Smith fan.  He may have struggled a little with Fumblitis, but I loved the way he ran (and when we would hit him for 20+ yards on a wheel route).  I would absolutely love it for him to put it all together next year, and I think he can be almost as good as Hyde if he does.
That being said, EZE, from what we've seen this year, could definitely surpass Hyde and be gone to the NFL after 2015 (after winning the Heisman and leading us to our second consecutive National Championship).  I feel bad for Warren Ball because he's probably not going to end up getting his chance, and he could've been great as well.  In a way, I hope he can transfer somewhere (not in the B1G) and have a successful college career and get drafted.

dan_isaacs's picture

I think carries are pretty close to split between EZE and Rod Smith next year.  I think Smith gets the tough yards.

Dan Isaacs

zachofaltrades's picture

This was a record setting offense.  Would Beanie's numbers have been as good or, gasp, better than Hydes if he were plugged into the same offense?  Hyde is awesome and I loved his relentless beast mode this year, but I think Beanie or Clarett would have put up similar numbers in this offense.

d5k's picture

I definitely agree with this but I still think Hyde this year has been a notch above Beanie.  Clarett if he didn't run into all that trouble would've had a monster sophomore and junior year and could've been an Adrian Peterson type prospect.  Note that we are comparing freshman Clarett to Junior Beanie and Senior Hyde.

45has2's picture

Beanie would have been Beanie, taking himself out of numerous plays/game and saving himself for the NFL. "OSU fans never saw my best." Yeah, no shit, thanks for that.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

Hovenaut's picture

All I know is I'm sure going to miss him.

droessl's picture

We KNOW how good Hyde was/is in the current offense with a solid O-line. A big difference between Hyde and Beanie is that Beanie often had to break tackles 3 yards deep, whereas El Guapo was afforded time to move his feet before contact.  That said, I love how Carlos runs: downhill, breaking tackles, trucking fools, and still keeping his head up to juke around players. As has been said here already, he's the best since Eddie. 

Mikefletcher24's picture

Going to miss watching him. I believe he is one the 3 best I have seen for the Buckeyes. Griffin, George and Hyde. That's rare air, but he belongs in the same sentence as them. Woody would have loved him. He's going to be a beast in the NFL. Mark that. I am looking forward to seeing Elliot next year. He showed flashes this year when he got carries and I remember a couple of massive tackles on special teams by him. That speaks to his heart and desire.

kmp10's picture

I'm old and I'm not easily impressed... some might even say I'm cynical. I've been around a long time and have watched a great many Ohio State tailbacks; Carlos Hyde, in my humble opinion, is the 5th best to have played at OSU in my half century of Buckeye fandom. 
1) Archie. I was there. I saw it... and yes, it was as impressive as you kids have heard and read about.
2) Eddie George. The difference between Eddie and Archie (besides one Heisman trophy) is consistency. Archie did it for four straight years. Eddie took a lil bit to get going, but when he did...
3) Keith Byars. He's Carlos Hyde before Carlos Hyde... except faster. Doug Flutie robbed Byars of his Heisman Trophy on one lousy pass Vs Miami. What a shame...
4) Tim Spencer. Overlooked... and that's sooo wrong. Big, fast and talented. Long NFL career.
5) Carlos Hyde. Beast, beast, beast. 
et al) Robert Smith, Beanie Wells, Maurice Clarett, Carlos Snow, Raymont Harris, Jeff Logan. Smith was a rare talent, but he wasn't worth the trouble or arrogance. Wells was an incredible combination of size and speed... but seemingly made of glass. Clarett is a coulda, shoulda, woulda guy and MIGHT have ended up top 3... had he played more than one season. Harris, next to Tim Spencer, is the most undervalued/overlooked back on this list. Logan, his career was a loooong time ago, but man he could fly. Plus, he was the back who followed Archie Griffin and was First Team All-Big Ten to boot... in an era where tailbacks ruled football.

TMac's picture

I don't find this assessment to be cynical at all!!  Our Buckeyes have been blessed with some wonderful talent for to watch and enjoy!

ONE Not Done!

cinserious's picture

Thanks KMP10. For an old guy, you really know your shit. You made a great list and taught us a thing or two about ALL the great Buckeye RBs of the last 50 years. That depth of knowlege and length of time really puts things in perspective. There's a .01% chance anybody will ever take the top spot, but just maybe we get a new #2 soon (EZE).

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

45has2's picture

Perfect list. As a fellow old fart, I agree completely with your rankings. 

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

SaudiBuckeye's picture

From my 40 years of following our beloved Buckeyes, I find your analysis is right on the money KMP10. 

hootch2's picture

For me,Hyde is the most exciting back I've seen since Archie. Taking the ball out of his hands spelled doom against the Spartans. Clarett made it clear in Youngstown Boys being a Buckeye didn't mean a thing to him when he was there. And obviously Beanie was looking ahead to the NFL. The suspension brought a clarity to Hyde of what it meant to be apart of the Buckeye family and he ran like every play was his last from that point on. Give me Hyde Baby!!!

I_Run_The_Dave's picture

Although Clarett admits to coming to OSU because of Jim Tressel's connection to Youngstown, that doesn't mean he didn't care about being a Buckeye.  OSU took that away from him first, and because he had no where else to go (he was already suspended for an entire year in 2003 and had no guarantee that he would be reinstated for 2004), he tried to go to the NFL and succeeded.  His career, unfortunately, was short lived because of alcohol abuse and we all know where he ended up.  

stcburn's picture

I hope he goes out shredding Clemsons defense. You'll be missed El Guapo, good luck in the NFL.

Buckeye Knight's picture

It's tough for me to rank Hyde vs. former OSU backs.  The kid just continually improved from the beginning of last year until the end of this year.  I do believe he was/is the best back in college football this year.  Absolute monster, love his toughness and speed for his size.

Barnsey69's picture

Hyde definitely benefited from a superior line versus the other two, but only two tackles behind the line of scrimmage all year for Guapo (is that correct?)!!?? I love all three, and Clarett's strip of Taylor in the NC is my all-time fav play, so I have a soft spot for him, but Hyde I think Hyde is the best since Eddie. I'll let his NFL career be the tie-breaker. 

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes- 2014 UNDISPUTED National Champions!

sharks's picture

Shame he was punished so harshly. He would have had a season for the ages.

A man got to have a code...

dytbuckeye's picture

I definitely think Hyde had an advantage in this years offense running the read option and veer. Defenses had to respect the threat of Braxton running so it was essentially like playing against 10 defenders on must runs. Having said that Hyde is still a man among small, helpless children and the way he moved piles was incredible.  It would be interesting to see how wells and clarett would have produced in this offense

RBuck's picture

If El Guapo was as productive in his first 2 or 3 seasons as he was in his senior year, I'd put him right up there with Archie and Eddie for all-time. Right now, a solid 3rd.

Long live the southend.

cinserious's picture

Once Hyde goes for 200 against Clemson, the media hype machine will be on full tilt and probably get him into the first round. Hyde is the best RB in college this year but the NFL is moving away from drafting them high these days:(

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

Buckeye Chuck's picture

Among guys I've seen, Hyde is clearly behind only George and Griffin and their three Heismans. If I had to rank the rest of our feature backs over the last 40 years, I'd probably go (and could be persuaded to change my mind):
3. Byars
4. R. Smith
5. Hyde
6. C. (B.) Wells -- provided all the offense for both teams in the '07 Michigan game
7. Clarett
8. Spencer -- only player on this list I ever shared a classroom with
9. Harris 
10. Pittman

The most "loud mouth, disrespect" poster on 11W.

Larryp713's picture

I would put Hyde just behind Byars, personally. I think he ran as hard as Archie and Eddie in the last few weeks... became truly elite. Great to see a young man work so hard and really shine.



avail31678's picture

I think all three had the "IT" factor.  Clarett had memorable plays (strip of would-be turnover INT in NC game comes to mind).  Beanie stiff-armed and hurdled dudes, and had more explosive long runs to the house.  And Wells has had some moments too - remember when he was on his back and stretched his arm, and afgter review it became a TD(don't remember the game, but it was a big TD in a close game)?  Also, Hyde's ridiculous TD against Iowa (I think) where he got knocked backwards, regained balance, and dove into the paydirt.
Really gonna miss him.  But excited to see what EzE can do.  Is there any thought that Rod Smith could possibly be the guy in 2014? 

andyb's picture

I love Hyde! But I would have loved to see Clarett against the competition this year and even as a seasoned veteran in this offense. I still don't think anyone in the past 30 years including Eddie can hold a candle to Clarett's natural ability and vision...he was a once in a lifetime kind of talent.

SMP's picture

My father and I had a discussion about this topic the other day.  We discussed all the greats and where we felt Hyde's place was amongst them.  Most of our discussion was focused on Clarett and what could have been.  My dad went on to state how our backfield would have been if Clarett had not fallen and Deshaun Humphrey would have lived.  Would have been fun to see!

faux_maestro's picture

If we have Clarett in 2003 we are playing for our second mNC in a row.

Your mom told me she wants a Dicken Cidar.

NitroBuck's picture

It would have been great to see what Drushaun Humphrey could have done.  Hard to find guys that are 6-3, 240 and run a 4.43.  If he had any sort of vision at all, he would have been a major improvement over Lydell Ross.

Ferio.  Tego.

Dublin68's picture

I hope Hyde will get 35-40 carry against Clemson, I just watched Iowa rerun game on Big 10 and man Hyde carried the team in the second half!!!!!!.....

BuckToAsT's picture

El Guapo getting 40 carries will also eat up some clock, which means keeping the ball away from Mr. Tajh Boyd.  That, of course, is not a bad thing.

buckeyedude's picture

I'm going to miss this dude. My favorite OSU football player since Dane Sanzenbacher.



Crumb's picture

Hyde is the best since Eddie George, hands down. Clarett and Beanie could take over a game and did on several occasions. But this year Hyde took over a season. Nothing has stopped him this year except the Buckeyes themselves. Michigan State didn't stop Hyde for whatever reason the coaches out thought themselves and they did. If he gets 25-30 carries in that game against MSU and we're in the NC game. If he gets over 20 carries against Clemson we will win. If he'd played the whole season he's the Heisman winner. If Braxton goes pro early, a big factor is he'll know he doesn't have number 34 to take the pressure off of himself. Archie, Eddie, and Carlos are the top 3 Buckeye runningbacks, period.

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

Buckabroad's picture

Sometimes the numbers don't say it all. I've been on the Carlos Hyde bandwagon since the beginning of last season. Some of his most crucial runs were "only" about 5 yards but netted crucial first downs, being drive-extending and clock-eating, which  in turn led to important wins (e.g. vs. Sparty last year). On numerous occasions, when the team had a bad day, he put the team on his back and carried them all to victory. He hits like a truck, has deceptive speed and can weave well when necessary (see 55 yd. TD run vs. Ill). He has the soul of a warrior and a pure heart. One of the best, most upstanding athletes we likely will have the honor to see.

"The minute we stop expecting greatness, we become Wisconsin."