Player of the week: Big Ten

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The end-zone routine is almost overkill. Carlos Hyde’s strength already has been on full display well before punching in a touchdown. He’s made it look easy to shed defenders or carry them for extra yardage.

The senior running back’s frame is hard to ignore even before that, as the simple sight of the 230-pounder lining up in the Ohio State backfield typically draws plenty of attention. The overall athleticism is showing snap after snap for an attack that is relying more heavily on his talents with each passing week as the No. 2 Buckeyes feed him a steady load of carries, which Hyde turns into relentless, consistent production.

But even after all that, Hyde still drives the point home once he crosses the goal line, flexing his arms and offering one more reminder that few players in the country are making a stronger impact on the season.

“The way I’m running right now, I’m just running angry,” Hyde told after Saturday’s 42-41 victory over rival Michigan. “I’m just more hungry than I would have been at the beginning of the season if I wouldn’t have been suspended.”

If not for that three-week absence for an off-the-field incident in a Columbus bar in July in which charges were never filed, Hyde might be in the mix for more than Player of the Week or Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors, given his incredible statistics since returning to the Ohio State backfield.

Hyde’s 226 yards against the Wolverines improved his season total to 1,290, but that figure is more eye-catching considering almost all of that output has come during eight Big Ten games. Against conference opponents, Hyde has averaged 156.1 yards per game and has 14 rushing touchdowns, leading the conference and helping him build a case that he might even be able to edge teammate Braxton Miller as the Big Ten’s top offensive performer this season.

Part of his success is obviously a product of the dynamic combination he and the Ohio State quarterback form in coach Urban Meyer’s spread offense. But, as Hyde has so frequently reminded people watching every time he scores a touchdown, his rare blend of strength, determination and speed is obviously a pretty significant part of the equation as well.

“The tailback has been pretty dominant,” Meyer said. “He’s playing as good as any tailback I’ve ever watched.”

That’s giving both the Buckeyes and Hyde plenty of reason to flex their muscles heading into the postseason.

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