EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- There will come a day when Michigan State can't rely so heavily on running back Javon Ringer.
That day might come Saturday against Iowa. Or it might not.
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said again Tuesday he wants a balanced offense as the Spartans move deeper into the Big Ten schedule. On the other hand, the football isn't all that heavy. And Ringer has all week to rest.
"The games that we have had thus far, you always want your best players carrying the football or touching the ball," Dantonio said during his weekly Tuesday press conference. "(Ringer) has the ability to get a crease and go 30, 40, 50, 60 yards. And you never know when that's going to be."
Ringer leads the nation with 187 carries and 12 rushing touchdowns after five games. He ranks second in the country with 897 rushing yards, giving him a shot to top the 1,000-yard mark faster than any back in Spartan history.
Ringer has sparked Michigan St. (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten) to four straight wins headed into Saturday's homecoming game against Iowa (3-2, 0-1). He's emerged as one of the early season hopefuls for the Heisman Trophy.
Ringer's backups haven't seen much action -- at least not running the ball. Andre Anderson has 15 carries. Ashton Leggett and A.J. Jimmerson have combined for seven.
But Dantonio said all his running backs are ready to contribute when called upon.
"They're good football players and they're going to have their moments," Dantonio said of Ringer's backups. "So, maybe it will come this week. Or next week or the week after."
Since a season-opening loss at California, quarterback Brian Hoyer hasn't had to throw much for the Spartans. He's completed 59 of 127 passes for the season with three touchdowns and two interceptions.
If teams keep cheating safeties up close to the line of the scrimmage to stop Ringer, it might open up some opportunities for the Spartan passing game. That happened a couple of times during Michigan State's 42-29 victory at Indiana last week. And it will be something to watch against Iowa, which statistically has one of the Big Ten's better defenses.
"Passing is always going to open up when you can run the football," Dantonio said. "It does for everybody. If you're one dimensional in any way, you're going to have problems at some point. So we need to continue to stay balanced."