INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Run Game Key to Victory

Javon Ringer is third in the country with 932 rushing yards, averaging 133 a game and seven a carry; Jehuu Caulcrick leads the nation with 13 rushing touchdowns; and even wide receiver Devin Thomas has gotten in on the action with 160 ground yards on the season, averaging eight yards every time he's handed the ball.

EAST LANSING – The Michigan State running game has been cracking open opposing defenses like eggs.

Javon Ringer is third in the country with 932 yards, averaging 133 a game and seven a carry; Jehuu Caulcrick leads the nation with 13 rushing touchdowns; and even wide receiver Devin Thomas has gotten in on the action with 160 ground yards on the season, good for eight yards every time he's handed the ball.

But this weekend, against a resurgent Ohio State team that has ascended to the number one position in the polls, the Spartans face some stiff competition.

After the NFL draft and graduating loads of talent, Ohio State might have been expected to enter a rebuilding year; instead, they reloaded.

Led by Butkus Award candidate James Laurinaitis at linebacker, the Buckeye defense leads the nation in scoring defense allowing only 6.6 points a game.

"Everyone was wondering how we could we replace … those who graduated," Tressel said, adding that he expects to maintain a high level of play from season to season. "We have done a solid job of doing that and that's what we expected."

However, OSU will be facing a tougher test as well. Before playing a ranked Purdue team two weeks ago, a team that was also unproven, the combined record of Ohio State's opponents was 7-13. After victories against the Boilermakers and Kent State last week, the Buckeye's enter their homecoming game on top of the world as the number one team in the recently released BCS standings.

Being on top might not be the best place to be, however, in this the season of upsets left and right. No. 5 Michigan got the first taste with a loss to Championship Subdivision (formerly 1-AA) Appalachian State. Since then, No. 1 USC, No. 1 LSU and highly ranked teams such as Florida, West Virginia, Oklahoma and California, among others, have been upset.

So if Michigan State wants to join the club and knock off a top-ranked team, establishing the ground game will be essential. The Spartans will take their 243 rushing yards-per-game, ninth best in the nation, on the road to see if they can find a way to crack open a Buckeye defense that allows a second-in-the-nation 63 yards a game on the ground.

If all goes well, the Spartans will be eating omelets fit for a king Sunday morning.

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