When MSU beat Purdue 21-7 Saturday at Spartan Stadium, the home team made its way over to the southeastern corner of the stadium to do the traditional singing of “MSU Shadows” with the student section. After the final word had been sung, nearly all the Spartans headed to the locker room to celebrate their ninth win of the season.
Staying behind was senior running back Javon Ringer, who, aside from being the best back in the nation with his 1,548 yards and 20 touchdowns, also has proven himself to be a stand-up individual throughout his four-year stay in East Lansing.
Ringer, who ran for 121 yards and two touchdowns against the Boilermakers, went up and slapped the hands of the students in the first row of the section. Then he went to the next section and then the next, completing a loop around the stadium before running out of the Spartan Stadium tunnel for the last time.
“I definitely wanted to make sure that I at least said, ‘Thank you,’ to all the fans,” Ringer said. “The past couple of years I’ve been here, despite our record, (the fans) have been faithful to us no matter what. Having faithful fans like that, that’s very important and it means a lot.”
The 5-foot-9, 202-pound senior captain and the 15 other seniors on the MSU football roster played their final home game in front of 75,522 fans, including many students, alumni and family members.
Although Ringer was the last senior off the field, he wasn’t the only one who stayed out on the gridiron for an extra few minutes. Senior strong safety Otis Wiley and senior guard Roland Martin each admitted to tearing up before or after the game.
Walking off the field for the final time would be emotional in itself, but walking off as part of a 9-2 football team was icing on the cake considering everything the group has been through.
“It was emotional being the last time our senior class gets to play in Spartan Stadium,” Wiley said.
“A lot of tears of joy also came around just remembering coming as a freshman and how everything has happened in my career. I feel like I am coming out of here a winner and helping this program to become successful.”
Big Ten champions?
When the MSU football team left Spartan Stadium on Saturday, they were excited at the chance to play then-undefeated Penn State on Nov. 22 for the Big Ten championship — and a chance to go to the Rose Bowl.
But later Saturday afternoon the Nittany Lions lost 24-23 to Iowa, meaning even if the Spartans beat the Nittany Lions, they need Ohio State to lose to either Illinois or Michigan in the next two weeks.
The Spartans need to focus on beating Penn State before they worry about the other scenarios. Still, many people didn’t think MSU would be in position to play for a Big Ten championship. Junior defensive end Trevor Anderson said as the season went on and the wins kept piling up, what seemed like a far-fetched goal to some suddenly became a reality.
Anderson said everyone in the locker room is not only confident they can keep up with Penn State, but actually beat the team that was No. 3 in the country just a few days ago. While the guys wearing the green and white uniforms are believers, there are still doubters who question MSU’s legitimacy.
To that, Anderson has a simple message.
“Whatever, man, whatever,” Anderson said. “Keep doubtin’.”
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