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Michigan State’s young running backs put Big Ten on notice in win over Western Michigan

The Michigan State Spartans have not had a shortage of talent at the running back position under head coach Mark Dantonio. But, as this group headed in to the 2016 season there was a big question to be answered at running back thanks to the departure of not one, but two key players at the position.

Depth and a starter would have to come from youth, with freshman LJ Scott and Madre London competing with sophomore Gerald Holmes for carries heading in to the season.

Not much was determined internally on Friday night, as the trio combined for 190 yards and three touchdowns in Michigan State’s 37-24 victory at Western Michigan.

Externally though, the Spartans put the rest of the conference on notice that it won’t be a one-trick pony in 2015.

Scott showcased some big time power, with a burst here and there, while London appears much more in the mold of the combo-back who is capable of killing you with his speed or his power.

Perhaps we should’ve all seen this impressive opener coming from this trio though, and that’s because¬†history tells us this group was going to be more than just fine. After all, since the first season of the Dantonio era (2007), MSU has only had two seasons without a 1,000-yard rusher.

It missed on a 1,000-yard back in the 2009 season and barely in 2011, with Le’Veon Bell racking up 948 yards on just 182 carries and if you throw in the 665 yards by Edwin Baker on 170 carries, this group did indeed have a 1,000-yard rusher.

With 190 yards and three touchdowns, this trio showed something in the

The question that will need to be answered the rest of the way is if LJ Scott or Madre London can take over as “the man” against better competition. If either or both do that, look for the Spartans to be a serious national contender.

Just don’t expect Dantonio to be the one to make the decision on what happens between the three running backs. It appears he’s confident enough in the group he has to let it just play out.

“I thought he did a great job,” Dantonio said of Scott, one of the most heralded players in MSU’s 2015 recruiting class, via the Detroit Free Press. “He ran with authority, and we’re gonna ride the hot back. It’s not always gonna be split up evenly. We’re gonna ride the hot back. Whoever that hot back is, that’s who we’ll ride. It’s up to them.”

After the Week 1 performance, can you really blame Dantonio?

Most teams would kill to have one star running back, let alone a gluttony of three equally impressive options to choose from.

As long as Week 1 wasn’t a fluke against a questionable defense, Michigan State’s running game made the rest of the Big Ten take notice and there’s little more that can be hoped for from a season opener.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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