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Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Several minutes after Saturday's game ended, there was a knock at the back door of Michigan State's media trailer.
When it opened, a parade of Spartans players walked through. The five starting offensive linemen. The fullbacks. The tight ends. Ten players in all. The 11th man, the star of the day, the one whom everyone had come to hear, brought up the rear.
|AP Photo/Al Goldis|
|Javon Ringer rushed for 201 yards and two touchdowns to carry Michigan State to a 23-7 win over Notre Dame on Saturday.|
"I can do nothing without these guys paving the way for me," Michigan State running back Javon Ringer said. "We were able to win because of these guys, not because of me or because of our receivers. It came from the guys up front. I told y'all they should be doing the interviews instead of me."
It's no surprise that Ringer once again deferred the credit for his latest masterpiece to Michigan State's trailblazers. But it's time to give the Spartans senior running back his due.
With Beanie Wells hobbled and P.J. Hill splitting carries, Ringer has emerged as the Big Ten's best back and one of the best in the country. After four games, he's the obvious choice for league MVP after another yeoman's effort -- 39 carries, 201 yards, 2 touchdowns -- in a 23-7 win against Notre Dame.
Ringer became the first Michigan State player to record back-to-back 200-yard rushing performances. Through four games Ringer has 700 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on a nation-high 143 carries.
"He's the best back in the country," Spartans quarterback Brian Hoyer said. "I go and look on ESPN.com and they've got the Heisman hopefuls or whatever. Javon Ringer should be in there. He's got to have close to 1,000 yards by now. And for him to be that type of person says even more."
Hoyer isn't the only one putting a plug in for Ringer.
"I'll put my vote in for Javon Ringer for the Heisman Trophy," Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said to open his news conference. "That needs to start getting picked up a little bit because that guy's a machine."
Preseason hype is usually a prerequisite for Heisman consideration, and that's where Ringer falls short. But if the award hinged solely on in-season performance, it's hard to find a player who has done more.
The Spartans make no secret about their intentions on offense. They're going to run Ringer until the defense stops him. So far, no one has.
According to STATS Inc., Ringer has the highest carries total in the first four games of a season since Iowa State's Troy Davis piled up 149 in 1996. He has 82 carries in the last two games.
So, can he keep up this pace?
"My body it feels, 1 to 10, I'd probably give it about an 8," Ringer said. "I really wasn't taking too much punishment. So far, I feel pretty good."
Ringer appeared to hurt his ankle twice in Saturday's game -- head coach Mark Dantonio said he cramped up and got the wind knocked out of him -- and came back strong each time.
He carried on six consecutive plays to set up a field goal that put Michigan State up 16-7. Then, after Notre Dame missed a field goal, Ringer burst through for 63 yards. Five more Ringer runs put Michigan State in the end zone and the game out of reach with 2:16 left.
"He reminds me a little bit of Tory Dorsett back in the day, when he was at Pitt," Michigan State offensive coordinator Don Treadwell said. "Tony was just strong and then all of a sudden, he'd break a tackle. And then in the fourth quarter was just, 'Feed me more.'"
Ringer had talked about feeding his offensive linemen steak dinners if they helped him to another huge performance. When reminded of the pledge after Saturday's game, Ringer said, "I [meant], if I had the money."
The cash will come in April at the NFL draft. For now, Ringer is happy being Michigan State's meal ticket.
"You want to feature your best player, and right now, our best player is our tailback," Dantonio said. "He's going to get touches. ... It's the intangibles within him that make him the back that he is. There's other guys that are just as explosive, are just as fast. But it's the things inside of him that makes him special."