Two recent Penn State Football standouts will battle for a chance to reach the NFC Championship on Saturday.
Penn State Football fans will be tuned in on Saturday night as Miles Sanders and the Eagles host Saquon Barkley’s Giant in the NFC Divisional round.
The former teammates have had numerous NFC East battles over the last few years, but none of those games had stakes as high as this one does.
Barkley, the second overall pick by the Giants back in 2018, helps lead a revitalized Giants team under first-year head coach Brian Daboll. New York slipped into the playoffs with a 9-7-1 record but upset the 3 seed Minnesota Vikings last weekend.
Now Barkley will face his former successor in the Penn State backfield, Miles Sanders in Philadelphia.
After a couple injury riddled seasons, Barkley has bounced back nicely in 2022-23, rushing for 1,312 yards and 10 touchdowns on 295 carries. He added 57 catches for 338 receiving yards as well. This was a critical season for Barkley because it is his contract year.
It’s also a contract year for Eagles running back Miles Sanders. Despite being caught in the middle of a running back committee, along with a dual threat quarterback in Jalen Hurts, Sanders has still managed to have a career year in 2022-23.
The former 5-star recruit rushed for 1,269 yards and 11 touchdowns on 259 carries this season. This production helped lead the Eagles to a 14-3 record and the No. 1 seed in the NFC. He, like Barkley, will be a free agent after the season.
At Penn State, Barkley and Sanders were the top two running backs on the 2016 and 2017 teams. Those teams went a combined 22-5 with a Big Ten title and a Fiesta Bowl win.
Barkley declared for the NFL Draft after his junior season. In his three years in Happy Valley, Barkley totaled 5,038 scrimmage yards and 51 touchdowns on 773 touches. With Barkley gone, Sanders had his chance to shine in 2018. He rushed for 1,274 yards and nine touchdowns that season. That production was good enough for him to be a second-round selection by the Eagles in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Penn State Football used the success of these two Pennsylvania products to help win the recruitment of 5-star in-state running back Nick Singleton. Everyone saw just how well that worked out in 2022.
Now, Penn State will once again use this game as a recruiting tool for not only running backs, but all in-state recruits. Most notably 2024 5-star athlete Quinton Martin.
The matchup between Sanders and Barkley will take place at 8:15 p.m. on Saturday night in Philadelphia.