If you were as sick of hearing questions about how Penn State was going to replace the production of Saquon Barkely, just imagine how Miles Sanders felt all summer. After sitting behind the star of Happy Valley for two seasons, Sanders dealt with not only the expectations of fulfilling his five-star past, but replacing the best back in Nittany Lion History. No pressure.
After carrying 49 times for 295 yards, and two scores over his first three games as the new starters, Sanders broke out in a big way on Friday evening in Champaign. His first career 200 yard game, on 22 carries, led to three scores, and carried the Nittany Lions in a massive second half en route to a 63-24 victory. Any lingering questions about how Penn State's electrifying offense would survive without Barkley should be answered.
As electrifying as Barkley was, Sanders is certainly no slouch in the open field. However, it has been his vision, patience, and power that has opened eyes. Yes, he can break the long run, as he did for his third score against Illinois, but perhaps his best runs came where he hit the hole, and then carried would be tacklers for additional yardage. For a player listed at 5'11, 215 lbs., he is hardly shy about contact or putting his shoulder down. His ability to decisively find an opening and get up field has been a key element of a Nittany Lion offense that has averaged over 500 yards and 55 points per game in 2018.
Heading into next weekend's battle with the Buckeyes, the Penn State rushing attack is in good hands with the latest star to get his opportunity, and answer plenty of questions.