Saturdayâ€™s duel with theÂ Michigan WolverinesÂ isÂ the biggest of the yearÂ for the 5-0 Michigan State Spartans.
A win would increase momentum going forward; a loss would send coach Mark Dantonioâ€™s men back to the drawing board.
For a player thatâ€™s never experienced a Big Ten game until last week; freshman Leâ€™Veon Bell is eager for his teamâ€™s clash with the unbeaten, Wolverines
Bell was fired up last week prior to his first Big Ten game with emotion running high.Â â€œItâ€™s definitely a new experience for me,â€ Bell told Spartan Nation after a recent practice. â€œIâ€™ve never actually played a Big Ten game, you know. This is going to be my first time.â€
Bell didn't leave anyone guessing about his talent.
The true-freshman sensation has won fans over on a week-by-week basis since his impressive showing in the Spartansâ€™ 38-14 Week-1 win against Western Michigan. Bell bulldozed his way for 141 yards on 10 carries and scored two touchdowns.
He slowed down the next week â€” as he rushed for just 49 yards in Michigan Stateâ€™s 30-17 win over Florida Atlantic University at Ford Field in Detroit, but he contributed with a touchdown.
But when it came time to play in Michigan Stateâ€™s primetime battle with Brian Kellyâ€™s Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Sept. 18; Bell didnâ€™t disappoint.
Bell pummeled the South Benders for 114 yards and a touchdown; and showed his hands with two catches for 18.
The unheralded recruit; yes,Â unheralded â€” was a vital component in the Spartansâ€™ awe-inspiring 34-31 win over Notre Dame. Of course, punter Aaron Bates and tight end Charlie Gantt had something to do with it, too.
And donâ€™t forget Dantonioâ€™s gutsy call that set the wheels in motion for â€œLittle Giants,â€ which could go down as college footballâ€™s play of the year â€” if not one of the all-time greatest in Spartan football history.
As expected; Bell ran rampant in the Spartansâ€™ 45-7 trouncing of the Northern Colorado Bears. He finished with 92 yards and three scores.Â He followed that up with an impressive performance against the Badgers.
Bell is one of the reasons Edwin Baker has had a prolific start to 2010. Baker is the speedster that opens things up and Bell is the bruiser.
The freshman opens the run game; as well as the passing attack. Heâ€™s an all-around threat that has (hopefully) three more years in green and white.
Bell is one of the nations best true freshman backs and is a critical part of the Spartans rushing attack.
There arenâ€™t too many flaws in Bellâ€™s game; but he noticed one facet he could improve on: Pass protection. Micro-managing his performance is a sign of maturity. Bell does realize heâ€™s just a freshman, right?
â€œI think Iâ€™m doing alright,â€ Bell said of defending his quarterback. â€œIâ€™m doing average right now. I can get a lot better. Thereâ€™s still things I can pick up. I want to see whatâ€™s happening before the play even begins. Iâ€™m still trying to learn and watch film. Iâ€™m learning from Larry (Caper) and everything; coach (Brad) Salem is really helping me out. Iâ€™m definitely going to get better.â€
The 6-foot-2, 230-pound freshman has the potential to join the laundry list of great Spartan running backs should he remain consistent.
Saturday promises to be a classic bedlam battle when the Spartans and Wolverines lace them up.Â Yes the pun was intended.Â It's the kind of battle that has made the Big Ten famous.
With high expectations for this yearâ€™s team; and added motivation to win for its recovering coach; Bell must continue his hard-running ways. And thatâ€™s what he intends to do.
â€œI plan to go out there and do my best and show everyone what I can do,â€ Bell said.