EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — Northwestern looked like it might be on its way to that signature win, the kind that would show the Wildcats can beat the best in the Big Ten.
Ohio State simply refused to sign off on it.
So the Wildcats settled for a close loss, knowing they gave the Buckeyes their best shot on a wet and wild night at Ryan Field and it still wasn't enough.
Carlos Hyde ran for a career-high 168 yards and three touchdowns, and No. 4 Ohio State rallied to beat No. 16 Northwestern 40-30 Saturday and extend the nation's longest win streak to 18 games.
"Every guy that stepped out on the field put everything he had on the field, left nothing out there," the Wildcats' Kain Colter said.
It just wasn't quite enough to knock off the Buckeyes (6-0, 2-0), who remained undefeated since Urban Meyer took over as coach last year.
A win would have cemented the Wildcats (4-1, 0-1) among the best in the conference. Instead, it slipped away down the stretch.
On a rain-soaked field and with a prime-time audience watching, Ohio State rallied from 10 down in the third quarter to take out a team aiming to show it could beat the best in the conference.
Hyde, who was suspended for the first three games after an alleged conflict with a female in a bar this summer, prevented that. He scored on a 4-yard run late in the third and added two more touchdowns in the final quarter to lift the Buckeyes.
"I go out every game with the mindset that I have to make up for those three games," Hyde said.
He was credited with a 2-yard touchdown after a replay review early in the fourth to put Ohio State ahead 26-23.
Then, after Northwestern's Trevor Siemian connected with Cameron Dickerson on a 12-yard score, Hyde ran it in from the 7 with 5:22 left in the game. That made it 34-30.
"We all make mistakes," coach Urban Meyer said. "I think this is a game changer for him."
Colter got stopped on fourth-and-1 at the Ohio State 34 with 2:43 left after he picked up his own fumble, wiping out a late threat. The game ended with Northwestern lateralling and the Buckeyes recovering the loose ball in the end zone.
Hyde came up big with Jordan Hall nursing a knee injury, and Ohio State pulled this one out even though Braxton Miller had a rough night. He threw for 203 yards but had an interception and fumbled twice after matching a career-high with four touchdown passes against Wisconsin last week. He also ran for 68 yards.