Michigan State’s Ringer carries a full load
Javon Ringer to the right side.
Javon Ringer up the middle.
Javon Ringer to the left side.
“He gets the ball 30 to 35 times a game,” Levy said of the Spartans’ senior tailback. “That means we get 30 to 35 opportunities to hit him. It is up to us to try and wear him down.”
Ringer, No. 1in the Bowl Championship Subdivision in rushing yards (1,373), carries (300) and rushing touchdowns (16), has been contained three times this season but no team has worn him down.
The Badgers (4-4, 1-4 Big Ten) must prevent Ringer from dominating the game or they will lose when they meet Michigan State (7-2, 4-1) at 11 a.m. Saturday in East Lansing.
Michigan couldn’t stop Ringer last week and fell, 35-21, to its in-state rival.
“I think Ringer is one of the best backs in the country,” said Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez, who saw Ringer rush 37 times for 194 yards and two touchdowns against his defense. “You have to contain him.”
UW’s defense enters this critical game relatively healthy and confident it can perform for 60 minutes. That confidence stems from UW’s performance last week against Illinois.
The Illini entered the game No. 1 in the Big Ten in total offense at 484.6 yards per game and No. 2 in scoring at 36.1 points. UW held the Illini to 309 yards and 17 points.
“To hold them to just barely over 300 (yards), 200 under their average, UW coach Bret Bielema said, “I thought was a great compliment to our coaches and players and the way they executed and kept believing for four quarters.”
Can UW’s defense fashion a similar performance against Michigan State?
The Spartans’ offense isn’t as dynamic, at 27.8 points and 366.1 yards per game, but Michigan State’s mentality is similar to that of Iowa’s.
“They are a run-oriented team,” Levy said. “They come right at your face. It is a lot different than Iowa’s running game but it is similar in their approach and the way they want to do things.”
Iowa, you will remember, rushed 34 times for 254 yards in a 38-16 victory over UW. Tailback Shonn Greene led the way with 217 yards and four touchdowns in 25 carries.
Greene is second in the Big Ten in rushing with an average of 144.2 yards per game and 10 touchdowns.
Ringer is No. 1 in the Big Ten and No. 2 nationally at 152.6 yards per game.
“They are both downhill guys who can make cuts and make you miss if you’re not in position and not using the right technique to tackle,” Levy said. “It’s going to be fun.”
Ohio State held Ringer to a season-low 67 yards in a 45-7 victory in Week 8. However, Ringer received a season-low 16 carries because the Buckeyes jumped to a 28-0 lead and the Spartans had to pass more than they prefer.
“You have Javon Ringer, who you better have a whole bunch of helmets up there to get stopped,” Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. “I think he’s really grown as a runner. . . .”
UW free safety Chris Maragos must be prepared to meet Ringer and remain alert for Michigan State’s play-action passing game.
“I think the biggest thing we need to do is focus on ourselves, having guys be in the right spot, knowing their assignments,” Maragos said. “And a big key for us—you saw on Saturday —was playing with energy.”