Evanston, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Carlos Hyde put the Buckeyes on his back, rushing for a career-high 168 yards and scoring three second-half touchdowns to help No. 4 Ohio State escape with a 40-30 victory over 16th-ranked Northwestern on a humid night at Ryan Field.
With quarterback Braxton Miller bottled up most of the contest, Ohio State (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) called Hyde's number 26 times out of the backfield and the senior responded with an explosive performance and scored each of the team's offensive touchdowns. He also caught four passes for 38 yards.
Corey Brown caught six passes for 127 yards and was the security blanket for Miller, who endured a rough first half with two turnovers but finished 15- of-26 passing for 203 yards in Ohio State's nation-best 18th straight win.
"Anytime you go on a 12-round, 15-round fight with someone and you come out the other end it just builds toughness and we're a tough team," said Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer. "We toughed out a win."
Trevor Siemian threw for two touchdowns and 245 yards on 13-of-18 efficiency, but had a fourth quarter interception.
Kain Colter did a little bit of everything, completing all 12 of his throws and adding receiving and rushing scores, but botched a snap on 4th-and-1 late in the game and it all but sealed a 29th loss in 30 games for the Wildcats (4-1, 0-1) against their conference foe.
Ryan Lawrence had 149 yards receiving on eight catches for the Wildcats, who were seeking a second straight 5-0 start to a season for the first time since 1904-05.
The Buckeyes hadn't trailed in any of their first four games, but played from behind nearly the entire night on Saturday, as the Wildcats put forth a feisty effort and built a 23-13 lead following a 32-yard field goal by Jeff Budzien on the team's opening drive of the third quarter.
Twice in the first half, Miller couldn't punch the Buckeyes into the end zone from inside the 10. He also had a fumble that led to a Wildcats touchdown, then lost another on Ohio State's first drive of the third when he coughed up the ball on the Northwestern 2-yard line.
Hyde then became the feature of the offense and he provided. After a Wildcats punt, he brought Ohio State within three when his third straight handoff ended in a 4-yard score.
Northwestern was still clinging to the 23-20 lead after three quarters of play, and to that point had stayed turnover free. However, Ohio State finally got a takeaway on the Wildcats' third play of the fourth, when Doran Grant picked off Siemian deep in Northwestern territory.
Four plays later, Hyde was able to stretch the football just past the goal line on a 1-yard plunge to give Ohio State its first lead since the opening quarter.
Siemian put the turnover behind him, however, and hooked up with Lawrence on a 67-yard play before finding Cameron Dickerson for a 12-yard score that gave Northwestern a brief 30-27 lead.
Hyde provided the answer with his third score of the half. After Brown hauled in a 38-yard pass, Hyde made a 12-yard catch before bouncing to the outside for a 7-yard touchdown to keep Ohio State in front, 34-30, with 5:22 left in the game.
Northwestern was faced with a critical 4th-and-1 on the next drive, and Colter fumbled the snap on the play. He was able to recover and lunged forward, but the officials spotted him short of the first down marker.
Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald challenged the spot, but the ruling of the field remained the same. The Buckeyes held the ball until there was only 28 seconds remaining, and a botched hook-and-ladder play for the Wildcats ended with Joey Bosa recovering a fumble in the end zone to account for the final margin.
"We're going to coach our guys to execute better. To make the plays when they present themselves," said Fitzgerald.
Drew Basil's 27-yard field goal capped Ohio State's opening drive, but Northwestern jumped ahead soon after by getting its first score off a turnover. Working with a short field after Tyler Scott recovered a fumble in Buckeyes territory, Siemian hit Colter on a 9-yard slant for a touchdown and a 7-3 lead seven minutes into the game.
The Buckeyes would briefly retake the lead, taking advantage after pinning Northwestern deep in its own end. Bradley Roby blocked and recovered a punt in the end zone for a 10-7 Ohio State edge, but the Wildcats answered right back with a 10-play sequence that ended on 2-yard TD rush by Colter.
Miller had the Buckeyes back inside the Northwestern 10 after completing a 25- yard pass to Corey Brown, but again was unable to punch it into the end zone. Basil made a 20-yard field goal to make it a one-point game early in the second.
The Wildcats had two possessions over the last 8 1/2 minutes of the half, with both ending in field goals of 23 and 29 yards and the team maintained their 20-13 edge at the break after Miller was intercepted by Chi Chi Ariguzo with 21 seconds remaining.
There were zero penalties in the first half ... Northwestern running back Venric Mark, who missed the last three games with a leg injury, rushed for 60 yards on 17 attempts ... The Wildcats' last victory against the Buckeyes came on Oct. 2, 2004.