Coming into the Orange Bowl, Ohio State may look like a M.A.S.H. unit on defense, but offensively the Buckeyes are working with a full complement of weapons for the Clemson Tigers to worry about.
The biggest task facing Clemson is something hardly anyone has done all season long—stop Carlos Hyde.
You know—he of 1,408 yards, 7.7 yards per carry and 14 touchdowns.
After missing the first three games due to suspension, it took Hyde all of two games to get back in the swing of things for Ohio State.
Following 41 yards on just five carries in his return against Florida A&M and 85 yards on 17 carries against Wisconsin, Hyde has been on fire on the ground.
He's rushed for over 100 yards in eight straight games and has all 14 of his touchdowns in those eight games as well.
Michigan State, widely considered the best defense in the country this year (Stanford's Tyler Gaffney vouches for that), couldn't even stop Hyde in the Big Ten championship game—allowing him 118 yards on 18 carries for a 6.6 yards-per-carry average.
The only thing MSU was able to do was keep Hyde out of the end zone in the Big Ten championship game, and that's where Clemson needs to start in stopping Hyde from taking the game over.
Clemson's rush defense comes into the Orange Bowl giving up 152.6 yards per game and has given up 19 touchdowns on the ground in 12 games.
Those numbers aren't spectacular, ranking 50th nationally in rush defense, but Clemson can get it done from time to time against the run.
Looking at Clemson's season, the most worrisome part of its defense against the run is that the Tigers have allowed the best teams they've faced to run all over them.
Georgia opened the year by rushing for 222 yards, Georgia Tech ran for 248 yards, and South Carolina had 148 yards.
The good news for the Tigers is that they've had nearly a month to study the Ohio State offense and Carlos Hyde specifically.
So, how do the Tigers do what no team has done all season long?
First of all is something that seems so simple but isn't—play gap-sure football.
Carlos Hyde is a power runner with the ability to hit teams on the cutback. If Clemson wants to take care of Hyde's ability to get downhill fast, playing in the gaps will eliminate the ability for Hyde to look for the cutback when the original hole isn't there.
The second issue for stopping Hyde is to win the line of scrimmage against the Ohio State offensive line.
Of course, that's asking a lot since the Tigers are going up against The Big Ten's best offensive line.
However, Clemson's Vic Beasley vs. Ohio State's Taylor Decker provides a very intriguing matchup that the Tigers could win.
Using Beasley's speed against Decker, and along the line of scrimmage as a whole, could be a way to negate the strength of the offensive line. If Beasley can play in the backfield on more than an occasional basis, it will stop the rush attack from getting going.
Those are all things the defense can do to scheme against; however, there is one scheme that can really take Hyde out of the game—Clemson's offense scoring early and often.
Clemson's offense could be the biggest help in controlling Carlos Hyde, especially looking at OSU's patchwork defense coming into this contest.
If the Tigers offense can get out to the lead first and continue to play from out front, the Buckeyes will be forced to run less and pass more, and that's perhaps the best way to take Carlos Hyde out of the game.
Clemson's hopes of winning this game rest on taking Hyde out of the game early on, and without that Ohio State's offense can pick apart the Tigers.
Of course, all of that is easy to say, but saying it and doing it against Hyde and the Buckeyes has been easier said than done all season long.
*Andy Coppens is Bleacher Report's lead writer for the Big Ten. You can follow him on Twitter: @ andycoppens.
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