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Shades of Saquon: PSU RB Nick Singleton Follows PSU History Big TD Runs in Big Games

Photo by Joe Smeltzer: Nick Singleton

LOS ANGELES, C.A. — The first college TD run PSU RB Nick Singleton had was long.

Against Ohio in Week 2 of this season, Singleton made his Beaver Stadium debut. On the first play of Penn State’s second drive, Singleton broke a 70-yard run for a score, which reminded people that he was the No. 1 rated running back in the country coming out of high school and the 2021 Gatorade National High School Player of the Year.

Singleton scored another touchdown that afternoon– this one a 48-yarder– and then scored seven more in the regular season to break the Penn State record for freshman running backs. 

Singleton was a big reason Penn State made it to the Rose Bowl Game, where it faced Utah in Pasadena Jan. 2. Against the Utes, Singleton scored the game’s first points on a 5-yard run in the first quarter. But it was his second touchdown that people will remember. His second touchdown was the one that people will watch for the rest of Singleton’s life and the lives of those who come after him. 

There’s something about Penn State running backs in the Rose Bowl. Ki-Jana Carter had an 83-yard run on Penn State’s first play offensive play from scrimmage against Oregon in the Rose Bowl Jan. 2, 1995.

22 years to the date, Saquon Barkley had a 79-yard run against USC at the same venue.

On the sixth anniversary of that run, Singleton had his moment. It came more than five minutes into the third quarter, with the game tied at 14. Singleton took a carry, hit a hole, and was gone. 87 yards. Penn State took the lead and never lost it, winning 35-21.

Singleton said his mother cried after his first touchdown against Ohio. She was there for this one as well. Her son gave all the credit to the men blocking for him.

“My linemen made a big hole,” Singleton told reporters after the game. “That was really it. My linemen made a big hole. I just saw green grass after I got past it.”

In his postgame press conference, coach James Franklin told reporters that the play design for Singleton’s big run was similar to Barkley’s big run. 

Well, not that Saquon run.

This run was a 92-yarder against Washington in the Fiesta Bowl.

“It’s interesting,” Franklin said, “they were in cover zero, and we actually did a fake check where we were looking to the sideline and then snapped the ball. We did something similar with Saquon Barkley in the Fiesta Bowl a few years ago. Caught them in cover zero. And they were in a bear front, which I wouldn’t say is the ideal front to run that play into. But once you crease them with Nick’s speed, you’re able to obviously make a huge play and swing the momentum in the game.”

Barring something unforeseen, Singleton will be back at RB for PSU next season, and the next long TD should be far away. Penn State will have plenty of other key players back, too. Some people watching the Rose Bowl hadn’t seen Penn State play all year and didn’t know who Singleton was. 

They know now.

“The whole world noticed,” Singleton said. “Especially for next season coming up for this team.”

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