In the early years of organized baseball, before team mascots became as formalized as they are today, teams would sometimes be referred to by the name (or nickname) of their star player. For example, the Cleveland “Naps” were named after future Hall-of-Famer Napoleon Lajoe.
Based on the numbers below, perhaps the MSU football team should take on the moniker of the “Ringers” for the remainder of the season.
Total offensive/special team touches through three games (excluding quarterbacks):
- Javon Ringer: 114 (38 per game)
- Rest of team: 72 (24 per game)
As I posted in the comments section of the previous football discussion thread, it’s hard to argue with the results of giving Ringer the ball 40+ times on Saturday, given the game conditions. And, at this point, we might as well get on the Ringer-for-Heisman bandwagon (however slim those odds may be for a team with work to do just to get into the top 25) and revel in the running up of the stats. He’s now at 498 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns.
In my (again, nonexpert) opinion, the biggest question about this team remains the pass defense (bigger even than Hoyer’s compentency). Cal’s quarterback shuffling probably helped MSU look at least halfway decent in pass defense, Eastern didn’t seem to have the personnel to challenge MSU through the air, and this weekend’s weather prevented either team from executing anything resembling a passing game. Also of note: the Spartan defense has sacked the opposition’s quarterback only three times to date.
Perusing Notre Dame’s stat sheet, their passing offense (7.0 yards/attempt; zero sacks allowed) seems like the one place they could create a large advanage on Saturday. But if we can get some pressure on Jimmy Clausen and the secondary can avoid giving up big plays, there’s every reason to think MSU should come away with the win at home.
Based on the early Sagarin ratings, here’s how the rest of MIchigan State’s games project out this season (projected lines rounded to nearest half point):
- Notre Dame (H): +2.0
- Indiana (A): +5.0
- Iowa (H): -0.5
- Northwestern (A): +0.5
- Ohio State (H): -5.5
- Michigan (A): -4.5*
- Wisconsin (H): -5.5
- Purdue (H): +7.5
- Penn State (A): -13.0
*This seems too high; the Sagarin ratings are probably still accounting too heavily for how good Michigan was last year. Of course, it’s also reasonable to think Michigan will get better as the season goes on and the players adopt to Rodriguez’s systems. And they probably won’t turn the ball over six times every game as they did on Saturday.
On a binary basis, those projections translate to 6-6, with 7-5 or 8-4 looking reasonable if they can win at home against Iowa and/or on the road against Michigan.
Coffee Talk: What are your expectations at this stage of the season, humble readers? How many wins does the team need for this season to be considered a success?