Each week, we’ll analyze the Ohio State game (and occasionally other games as well) through the lens of a sports movie. If this game were the next “Remember the Titans,” “Space Jam” or “The Sandlot,” what storylines would keep us talking? What would make us laugh, reach for the box of tissues, or have us on the edge of our seats? Grab your popcorn and get ready for pop culture references, a hint of snark, and a trip back in time to the Blockbuster Video days.
We’re in the heart of spooky season (perhaps it’s spookier for Purdue fans than for Buckeye fans given the outcome of yesterday’s game), and luckily for us, sophomore running back Dallan Hayden decided to keep us on theme. Coming out of yesterday’s game, he really gave us something to “Scream” about (complimentary) with his Sidney Prescott final girl energy.
Ohio State went into Saturday’s matchup against the Boilermakers down two of their top three running backs, with TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams sidelined with injuries. By the end of the first quarter, a big hit took Chip Trayanum out with them.
No one wants to see their friends go down one by one, but when it happens, it’s best to be prepared.
That’s exactly how Dallan Hayden responded — in a big way.
While “Scream” is 27 years old and I personally believe the statute of limitations has run out on spoilers, I also believe “Scream” is one of the most perfect films ever made and everyone deserves to see it spoiler-free for the first time, so I will attempt to make this comparison without spoiling the greatest horror franchise ever made.
High schooler Sidney Prescott lives in a town called Woodsboro, California, and when the movie opens, we are closing in on the first anniversary of the murder of Sidney’s mom. A masked character named Ghostface begins attacking the residents of Woodsboro, putting everyone on high alert.
Sidney, for her part, is attacked while home alone one night, though Ghostface disappears right as her boyfriend arrives.
Soon, recent Woodsboro graduate Randy Meeks—a horror aficionado and film student—points out that the residents of Woodsboro seem to be living in a horror film. But all hope is not lost — being in a horror film means there are rules and guidelines to follow to help them avoid being caught off guard and keep them alive.
Yet, as the movie goes on, Sidney’s friends and neighbors go down one by one, breaking the rules and paying the price. She has no choice but to remain prepared, getting scrappy and fighting back. Much like Hayden on Saturday.
While Sidney’s end goal was to not get murdered by a stabby masked man in a glittery robe, Hayden’s was to help lead his team to victory. In his season debut, he went 76 yards on 11 carries, averaging 6.9 yards per carry.
The cherry on top was a 19-yard touchdown run to open the second half.
Hayden had been preparing for this. With no guarantees that his number would be called this season given where he fell in the depth chart, he knew his team was still counting on him to be ready if the moment came.
Sidney knew the same—when Ghostface came for her, she needed to be ready to outsmart him and ultimately put an end to his plot.
The Buckeyes’ run game has struggled this season, and they were coming off a dismal rushing performance against Maryland. For Hayden to step up and run the ball the way he did without the three guys ahead of him on the depth chart showed the exact level of preparation, grit, and determination the Buckeyes needed.
He could have outrun Ghostface himself.
Ryan Day agreed. “To be able to run the way we did without having three of our guys was a good sign,” Day said after the Buckeyes’ definitive 41-7 victory.
Now, if you’ve seen “Scream 2,” you know the rules in a horror sequel are different—the body count is higher, the kills are more elaborate and gory, and you can never ever assume the killer is dead.
Ohio State might have its own horror sequel on its hands next weekend. The killer they’ll face (Penn State) will be faster and smarter than the Boilermakers (who have a bottom-four rush defense in the Big Ten), and there are new rules they’ll have to factor in.
Penn State, for its part, has the No. 1 rush defense in the conference (ranked sixth nationally), so if they’re relying on Hayden to do the heavy lifting, he’s going to have to get scrappy.
But that’s another film for another Saturday.
This weekend, he did exactly what was asked of him when thrown into a situation no one expected us to be in. So at least for this weekend, he’s our local Sidney Prescott.
Let’s just hope the Buckeyes can continue to share her success, and that of the Scream franchise, even as new villains pop up and get harder and harder to defeat.