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Tale of the tape: Shonn Greene vs. Javon Ringer

10/22/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

When it comes to Big Ten running backs, one player and one body part have dominated the headlines this season.

The player is Michigan State senior Javon Ringer, who leads the nation in rushing touchdowns (14), carries (263), net rushing yards (1,179) and all-purpose yards (1,498). Ringer ranks second nationally in rushing average (147.4 ypg) and became the first player to record back-to-back 200-yard rushing games in Spartans history.

The body part is Chris "Beanie" Wells' right big toe, which became a national story in the weeks leading up to Ohio State's matchup against USC. The injured toe kept Wells sidelined for three games and effectively ended his hopes for winning the Heisman Trophy.

But a third back has bullied his way into the spotlight. Iowa's Shonn Greene has been arguably the biggest surprise in the country this fall. After spending a year away from the program to improve his grades, Greene has eclipsed 100 yards rushing in all eight games and surged to No. 3 nationally in rushing average (144.3 ypg).

I've received many e-mails in recent weeks asserting that Greene is the Big Ten's best running back. Both Greene and Ringer have carried their teams at times this season, and each player excels in certain areas. Penn State's Evan Royster and Wells also lead the Big Ten, the nation's top conference for running backs.

Here's a breakdown of how Greene and Ringer stack up: