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Game preview: Iowa’s Weisman, Spartans’ Bell take center stage

[ 0 ] October 12, 2012 |

EAST LANSING, Mich. – You’re the coach in a backyard pickup football game. You’ve got the first pick. You want a running back. Mark Weisman and Le’Veon Bell are available.

“Don’t even go there,” Central Michigan coach Dan Enos said, laughing, this week. “Don’t trick me into that one.”

Iowa’s Mark Weisman escapes a tackle by Minnesota’s Cedric Thompson for a touchdown this season in Iowa City. (Bryon Houlgrave / The Des Moines Register)

The Big Ten Conference’s top two running backs are on opposite sidelines during Saturday’s 11 a.m. game at Spartan Stadium, Michigan State’s Bell and Iowa’s Weisman. There’s no one to break it down better than Enos, whose team faced both.

“Le’Veon may have more in the make you miss department, but Mark runs as hard and tough as they come,” Enos said. “He keeps his (shoulder) pads down.”

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Weisman rushed 27 times for 217 yards and a touchdown during Central Michigan’s victory against Iowa. Bell rushed 18 times for 70 yards – 60 of which came on 15 first-half carries — when the Spartans beat Enos’ team 41-7.

“There are a lot of similarities,” Enos said.

Bell, who has 776 yards on 171 rushes, is a 6-foot-2, 244-pound junior. Weisman, with 515 yards and 74 carries, goes 6-0 by 235.

Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell rushes against Notre Dame during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

Weisman drops his muscular shoulders when sensing contact. Bell hurdles it.

“You don’t want to be on his highlight tape,” Hawkeye linebacker Christian Kirksey said. “You’ve got to make sure you hit him at mid-level, (because) if you try to go for his legs, he will hurt you.

“That’s the game of football. We defensive guys – that‘s what we like.”

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Bell’s eye-opening video resume includes jumping over tacklers from Boise State, Notre Dame, and last Saturday against Indiana.

“Other than a guy catching a touchdown pass on you, getting hurdled has to be the worst,” Iowa cornerback Micah Hyde said. “It’s a terrible feeling.”

One moment you’re poised to wrap him up. The next moment, he’s soaring over you.

“It’s definitely something that’s not planned,” Bell said this week. “It’s just instinct.”

Freakish instinct.

“He’s a man among boys,” Hyde said. “A guy that big isn’t supposed to be moving like that, making cuts and hurdling like that. It’s impressive what he does.”

It’s impressive what Weisman does, too, Spartans coach Mark Dantonio said.

“I think that he’s an over-achiever, which to me is a sign of greatness,” Dantonio said of the fullback-turned running back. “He has demonstrated that he’s in it for the long haul at tailback.”

That’s where Weisman will start Saturday. Damon Bullock also is expected to play for the first time after suffering a concussion against Northern Iowa.

Bullock has quickness with potential to cut around defenders. Weisman is pure strength – with jumping over tacklers being the farthest thing from his mind.

“That’s crazy,” Weisman said. “I don’t know if I could do that if I tried.”



6-0, 235, Senior

No. 2 rusher among Big Ten tailbacks with 515 yards on 74 carries. He leads running backs with 7.0 yards per rush.


6-2, 244, Junior

Leading rusher among Big Ten tailbacks with 776 yards on a league-leading 171 carries. Averages 4.5 yards per attempt.


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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Randy Peterson: Randy Peterson covers college football, college basketball and the Iowa Cubs for the Des Moines Register. Randy can be reached at randypeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter via @RandyPete View author profile.

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