Big Ten: Kevin Smith
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Michigan State has no hidden agenda on offense. The Spartans give the ball to senior running back Javon Ringer and let him do his thing. Through four games, the Spartans and Ringer aren't showing any signs of letting up or slowing down.
Ringer already has 143 carries, 30 more than any other FBS back. If Michigan State reaches a bowl game and Ringer maintains his current pace (35.75 cpg), he would finish the season with 464.75 carries, surpassing the FBS single-season record of 450 set by Central Florida's Kevin Smith last season. Smith, who played in 14 games, broke Marcus Allen's 26-year-old record for single-season carries (403) and became the first back to eclipse 400 carries in a season since Iowa State's Troy Davis in 1996.
It's interesting that in a sporting climate of controlled pitch counts and 45-second line changes that college football could produce 400-carry running backs in consecutive seasons. The 12-game regular season and the proliferation of league championship games obviously play a role, but you've got to admire the durability of these players.
Michigan State fans, of course, are justifiably more concerned about whether Ringer can hold up with such a heavy workload during a full season. He's not the biggest back in the world (5-9, 202 pounds), and he's never had more than 245 carries in a season. Ringer is a weight-room freak and appears to be in phenomenal shape. His ability to break off a 63-yard run in the closing minutes of last week's game against Notre Dame was truly astounding. But every player has a limit, and Michigan State needs to be careful with Ringer.
Opposing defenses likely will do their part to decrease Ringer's touches by continuing to crowd the box. UCF's Smith had three games of 22 carries or fewer last season, and Ringer can expect about the same. It's still somewhat confusing why Ringer remains on the kickoff return team -- head coach Mark Dantonio is rolling the dice there -- and it would be wise to get Andre Anderson a few more touches.
Here's hoping Ringer holds up and continues to provide great theater throughout the fall as the Big Ten's iron man.
BIG TEN SCOREBOARD
Final Nevada 3 Louisiana-Lafayette 16 Final Utah State 21 UTEP 6 Final 22 Utah 45 Colorado State 10 Final Western Michigan 24 Air Force 38 Final South Alabama 28 Bowling Green 33
Final Marshall 52 Northern Illinois 23 Final Navy 17 San Diego State 16
Final Central Michigan 48 Western Kentucky 49 Final Fresno State 6 Rice 30
Final Illinois 18 Louisiana Tech 35 Final Rutgers 40 North Carolina 21 Final North Carolina State 34 UCF 27
Final Cincinnati 17 Virginia Tech 33 Final 15 Arizona State 36 Duke 31 Final Miami (FL) 21 South Carolina 24 Final/OT Boston College 30 Penn State 31 Final Nebraska 42 24 USC 45
2:00 PM ET Texas A&M West Virginia 5:30 PM ET Oklahoma 17 Clemson 9:00 PM ET Arkansas Texas
3:00 PM ET Notre Dame 23 LSU 6:30 PM ET 13 Georgia 21 Louisville 10:00 PM ET Maryland Stanford
12:30 PM ET 9 Ole Miss 6 TCU 4:00 PM ET 20 Boise State 10 Arizona 8:00 PM ET 7 Mississippi State 12 Georgia Tech
12:00 PM ET 19 Auburn 18 Wisconsin 12:30 PM ET 8 Michigan State 5 Baylor 1:00 PM ET 16 Missouri 25 Minnesota 5:00 PM ET 2 Oregon 3 Florida State 8:30 PM ET 1 Alabama 4 Ohio State
12:00 PM ET Houston Pittsburgh 3:20 PM ET Iowa Tennessee 6:45 PM ET 11 Kansas State 14 UCLA 10:15 PM ET Washington Oklahoma State