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Penn State Football

Penn State: Miles Sanders Speaks Highly of RB Duo

Penn State Nittany Lions running back Nicholas Singleton (10) November 12, 2022 David Hague/NSN

Penn State is one of the biggest college football programs in the country with one of the biggest fanbases.

Every season comes with more excitement in Happy Valley than it does most places.

But coming into this 2023, people are even more excited than usual for many reasons.

Penn State is coming off one of its best seasons of the past decade. The team finished 11-2 and No. 7 in the country with a win over Utah in the last traditional Rose Bowl ever being the proverbial cherry on top.

Most of the key contributors from last year’s team will be back in the fold. Because of that, Penn State’s expected to be strong.

But so are Big Ten foes Michigan and Ohio State.

Everybody that’s paying attention knows that Penn State will have to beat at least one of those teams to achieve its biggest goals for 2023: Winning the Big Ten and making the College Football Playoff for the first time.

Included in “everybody paying attention” is Miles Sanders.

”Everybody knows we have to get those two wins,” Sanders told reporters at his Youth Football Camp in the Pittsburgh area Sunday afternoon.

Sanders didn’t have to specify the pair of wins.

2008 was the last time Penn State beat Ohio State and Michigan in the same season. Since then, there’s been plenty of heartache caused to Penn State and its fans by each program.

Sanders knows this better than most.

In 2016, Sanders was a member of the Penn State squad that beat Ohio State in one of the most famous games in school history and went on to finish 11-2 and win the Big Ten.

One of those two losses was to Michigan. Had Penn State won that game, it would have been in the College Football Playoff.

The next season, Penn State avenged its loss to Michigan with a blowout win at Beaver Stadium in White Out conditions.

But it was Ohio State that caused the heartache that year.

Sanders had a front-row seat as Penn State lost a 15-point fourth quarter lead in Columbus. Once again, Penn State finished 11-2. But beating Ohio State would have put PSU in the Big Ten title game with a great shot at making it to the Playoff.

Yes, Michigan (Nov. 11 at home) and Ohio State (Oct. 21 away) only account for two of Penn State’s 12 regular-season game. There are plenty of other chances for the team to help or hurt its playoff cause outside of those two games.

But the common thought is that, if Penn State’s good enough to beat one of Michigan or Ohio State, it will have a solid chance to win the Big Ten and make the Playoff in what will be the last year of the four-team format.

If Penn State’s good enough to beat both teams, it will be a shock if it isn’t in the conference title game with everything to play for.

So what does Sanders see as the key to Penn State slaying those dragons and getting to the Playoff?

Given the position the now-Carolina Panther plays, his answer shouldn’t have been a surprise— Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen.

“You know what I’m about to talk about—the two running backs,” Sanders said. “My guy, (RB) Coach (JaJuan) Seider is over there running it, so I know he’s happy with the two studs over there. So, in my opinion, just give them the ball, and our defense is stacked.”

Penn State gave Singleton and Allen the ball a lot last year. They ran with it, both figuratively and literally.

The two freshmen were expected to improve Penn State’s running game. They went beyond that.

By the end of the year, Singleton (1,061 yards, 12 touchdowns, 6.8 yards per carry) and Allen (867 yards, 10 touchdowns, 5.2 YPC) turned the running game that was a weakness the year before into the No. 1 strength of Penn State’s offense.

Singleton’s 87-yard run in the Rose Bowl was arguably the signature play of Penn State’s season.

It was an appropriate climax to a campaign that brought a quality ground game back to Happy Valley.

Despite struggling to run the ball in 2020 and ‘21, Sanders noted the school’s running back lineage since James Franklin became the head coach in 2014, and feels Singleton and Allen are continuing that lineage.

“Reminds me of Saquon and me when I was there,” Sanders said. “The room is stacked always. Since I’ve been there, it’s been stacked. So they’ve had guys like Saquon, they’ve had guys like me coming right behind him. Guys like Journey (Brown), then Nick and Kaytron. It’s low-key been like RBU over there, so I’m liking it.”

If Singleton and Allen provide an entertaining encore in Year 2, Penn State fans will be “liking it” a lot.

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