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Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker III Named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Northwestern Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan State Spartans got a huge victory over the Northwestern Wildcats on Friday, and a key reason why was junior running back Kenneth Walker III.

Walker rushed for a career-high 264 yards and scored a career-high four touchdowns as the Spartans raced past the Wildcats for a 38-21 victory Sept. 3 at Ryan Field. A Wake Forest transfer during the offseason, Walker’s 264 yards are the seventh-highest total in school history and the most ever by a MSU running back in a Spartan debut game.

Walker opened the game with a bang ,as he sped off 75 yards straight to the end zone on the opening play from scrimmage. He had three other big runs of 50, 30, and 23 yards to go with three other touchdowns.

Walker became the first running back at Michigan State to post a 200-yard rushing game since Le’Veon Bell did so at Minnesota in 2012 (266 yards) and the first MSU running back to score four rushing touchdowns since Edwin Baker did in 2010, also versus Minnesota. His yards totaled more than the leading rusher in the abridged 2020 season (Jordon Simmons, 219 yards), and he scored four more rushing touchdowns in the single game on Friday night than all MSU running backs combined in 2020 as well (zero).

Walker is the first Michigan State player to be named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week since Felton Davis was on Oct. 2, 2017. Davis was named co-offensive player of the week after he hauled in nine catches for 188 yards and two touchdowns in the Spartans’ 17-10 home win over Iowa.

As far as other Big Ten and MSU records go, Walker is just the second running back at Michigan State to rush for more than 250 yards and four touchdowns in a single game, the other being Eric Allen versus Purdue on Oct. 30, 1971 when he set the school record of rushing yards in a single game with 350 yards and also scored four touchdowns. In the Big Ten, Walker is the first back with 250-plus rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns since Melvin Gordon in 2014 against Nebraska (408 yards and four rushing touchdowns).

Walker currently leads the nation in rushing and is tied for first in rushing touchdowns (with one more game to be played this week on Monday between Louisville and Mississippi). The Spartans return to action this Saturday, Sept. 11. Youngstown State (1-0) will visit Spartan Stadium with the game kicking at noon and being broadcast on the Big Ten Network.