DARRON CUMMINGS / AP Enlarge
Maybe Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger has been watching too much Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, but after Michigan State's Javon Ringer chewed up his team for 282 rushing yards, Schnellenberger went Serengeti on us.
"When they [the Spartan offensive line] all came off at one time, they looked like a herd of water buffalo stampeding at you, and then there's a gazelle somewhere behind them," Schnellenberger said. "He's very good, persistent, and you can see how strong he is."
Ringer, who is concern No. 1 for No. 12 Ohio State as it gets ready to face the 20th-ranked Spartans tomorrow, has pretty much stampeded over everyone. While most running backs can take an accounting in late November and consider 1,000 yards a darn good season, Ringer passed that mark 11 days into October. He is second in the nation with 1,112 yards.
"He's a little, slippery guy, but he's a tough runner," Ohio State senior linebacker James Laurinaitis said about Ringer, a 5-9, 200-pounder. "It might look like there's no space, but he'll slide through there. And even if you think you have the play stopped, unless you have his knees down he's going to lunge forward. He will fight until the end of the game looking for yards."
Ringer, a Buckeye from Dayton's Chaminade-Julienne High School who went to East Lansing the same year that Ohio State signed running back Maurice Wells out of Florida, has 14 touchdowns and is averaging almost 160 rushing yards per game. Ringer carries the ball more than 35 times each Saturday afternoon.
"You better have a whole bunch of helmets up there to get [him] stopped," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. "I think he's really grown as a runner. He was always a great kid, a great competitor, great trainer, good receiver and special teams guy, but now he's turned into a very, very patient runner. He'll sit and wait and keep his shoulders square. It usually takes extra people in there to stop him."
Bowling Green running back Anthony Turner has some insight into what makes Ringer a perpetual motion machine. Turner and Ringer are cousins who played on the same high school team.
"It's his attitude. He has a never-back-down attitude," Turner said. "He's got a go-getter attitude."
Ringer put that relentless motor on display in a 23-7 win over Notre Dame, rushing for 201 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Michigan State ran 69 plays against the Irish, and Ringer carried the ball on 39 of them.
"What happens is that they can give him the ball 39 times in a game, and you can hit him and hit him and hit him, and he just keeps on coming," Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis said. "I think that I learned a long time ago that one attribute that great players have is stamina, and he obviously has great stamina."
Ringer was held to 49 yards on 18 carries as the Buckeyes beat Michigan State 24-17 in Columbus last year. MSU coach Mark Dantonio knows that his team, and his star running back, have grown in confidence and capability since then.
"He's a total team player; it's not about him," Dantonio said. "It's the person in him, it's the intangibles within him that make him the back that he is. There are other guys who are just as explosive and just as fast, but it's the things inside of him that make him special."
Contact Matt Markey at: