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December 15, 2008Michigan State running back Javon Ringer knows exactly how he wants to end his college football career -- with the perfect game against Georgia.
Ringer will lead the Spartans against the Bulldogs Jan. 1 in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, determined to erase the image of his struggles in the regular season finale against Penn State.
"I'm just not satisfied the way things ended, not satisfied at all," he said Thursday while attending both a bowl-game promotion and the College Football Awards ceremony.
"That's why this bowl is so good. The perfect game for me would be something like 25 carries, 200 yards, three touchdowns and a victory. That's the way I want to go out."
Ringer, an All-Big Ten first team selection, rushed for 1,590 yards and led the nation in scoring (10.5 points per game), carrying Michigan State (9-3) to within one win of a share for the Big Ten Conference title.
"I'm not naive," he said. "That perfect game is something you dream about. Georgia has a tremendous defense. And they are going to make it tough. But we've got a good enough team that the dream could become reality."
The success of the running game will be pivotal for both Michigan State and Georgia (9-3). The Bulldogs will feature tailback Knowshon Moreno, who rushed for 1,338 yards this season.
Both backs are capable of dominating games. And like Ringer, Moreno didn't finish the regular season like he wanted. Ringer managed just 42 yards on 17 carries in a loss to Penn State. Moreno had 94 yards on 17 carries in the loss to Georgia Tech.
It's no coincidence that Georgia's three losses came in the three games that Moreno failed to reach the 100-yard rushing mark.
Both Georgia coach Mark Richt and Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio attended Thursday's luncheon to kick off the bowl festivities, agreeing that the running game would be a factor in the outcome. Both coaches will return to Florida with their teams the day after Christmas.
A victory Jan. 1 would give Georgia a 10-win season for the sixth time in eight years under Richt. A victory for Michigan State would give the Spartans their first 10-win season since 1999.
"When you win 10, it's significant," Richt said. "People look at it, and say double-digit victories. They've done something. That one extra win can make a big difference. You want your seniors to leave on a high note, and you want to set the tone for next season."
Dantonio also brought the Spartans to Orlando a year ago for the less prestigious Champs Sports Bowl after they won just seven games. The goal this year was to reach a New Year's Day Game.
"A 10-win season in college football is a huge accomplishment. You've really done something," Dantonio said. "It can turn a good season into an excellent season. And that's what we'd like to do."