EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Without three-year starter and team captain Kirk Cousins, Michigan State expected a strong running attack would be vital in its success.
With a first-year starter at quarterback and fresh crop of inexperienced receivers, the running of junior Le'Veon Bell was likely to play a big role.
After a 17-13 victory over Boise State on Friday, it appears that is the plan - and then some.
Bell ran for a career-high 210 yards and carried the ball 44 times, another career high, as he carried the Spartans to a come-from-behind victory. Bell added six catches for 55 yards.
But for now, the Spartans aren't worried about overusing Bell.
"Well, until he gets a flat, I guess," coach Mark Dantonio said when asked how long he could ride Bell. "I don't know. We wanted to get Nick Hill involved and Larry Caper involved as well. We're trying to win a beat football team and give ourselves the best opportunity. He was hot. I've said many times here we're going to ride the hot back. It doesn't mean he's hot every game. If Larry or Nick are hot, they'll be the ones running the ball more often. So we're going to ride the hot back. We've always done that here."
Bell's play in the opener has vaulted his name into the early Heisman Trophy talk. He had 84 yards after contact. It's music to the ears of his teammates.
"He's an animal," wide receiver Bennie Fowler said. "It's going to be hard to stop that guy. He's gonna open up a lot in the passing game for us, he's a great player. I love playing with him and he takes a load off the offense."
Odds are this week at Central Michigan that Michigan State will spend plenty of time trying to work out the kinks with new starting quarterback Andrew Maxwell and the passing game that produced three interceptions against Boise.
But rest assured, Bell will get his share of work.