LINKEDIN 3 COMMENTMORE

The Michigan State football team’s strength this season arguably begins in its offensive backfield, with running backs LJ Scott, Gerald Holmes and Madre London.

Phil Steele, in rankings compiled for ESPN (pay site), has MSU’s group as one of the best in the country. But, according to Steele, it’s not the best in the state.

That honor belongs to Western Michigan, which boasts the nation’s 13th-best running back group in the country, according to Steele. MSU’s trio is ranked 15th, while Michigan is 17th.

The Broncos return their leading rushers from the past three seasons in Jarvion Franklin and Jamauri Bogan. Franklin had 1,551 yards (5.1 yards per carry) in 2014, and 1,353 yards last season (5.5), while Bogan broke the 1,000-yard barrier in 2015 with 1,051 (6.5 yards). Steele expects LeVante Bellamy also to “steal some carries” from the duo.

The Spartans, meanwhile, offer plenty of bruisers out of their backfield.

“LJ Scott is 231 pounds and took over late as a true freshman and led with 699 yards (4.8 YPC),” Steele writes. “Last season, he gained 994 yards (5.4 YPC) including 139 vs. Michigan and 160 against Ohio State. Gerald Holmes is 227 pounds and has 1,015 (4.7 YPC) career yards. Madre London is 216 pounds and is the fastest of their running backs.”

Alabama tops Steele’s rankings. Ohio State, led by Detroit Cass Tech product Mike Weber (1,096 yards as a redshirt freshman), is No. 12.