Former Big 10 rivals Elliott, Barkley square off in NFC East showdown
ARLINGTON, TEXAS — Ezekiel Elliott and Saquon Bar- kley are friends from their days as foes at Ohio State and Penn State.
Now that they’re set to share the field for the first time as pros, the running back of the Dallas Cowboys remembers his only college encounter with Barkley, the promising rookie of the New York Giants.
To wit, the matching hurdle plays that Elliott recalls when Barkley was a freshman for the Nittany Lions and outgained the reigning offensive MVP from the first championship game in the four-team playoff era a season earlier. Elliott’s Buckeyes got the bigger prize, a 38-10 win.
“I went out and hurdled a guy and literally the next drive he comes back and hurdles one of our guys,” Elliott said. “That was pretty cool to me just to see him come back and do the same thing.”
Just as in that scenario We didn’t do enough in the three years ago, Elliott is first game to win the game, the established star after and we’re working to do what leading the NFL in rushing we can to win this next one. as a rookie in 2016, and Bar- Period. End of story.” kley is the first-year upstart. It could be just the start As for the bigger prize Sunof the Elliott-Barkley story. day night, the NFC East rivals Friends since that night in need the win with both com- Columbus, Ohio, after Bar- ing off season-opening losses. kley rushed for 194 yards
“We don’t worry about while Elliott had 153 yards that,” first-year Giants coach and a touchdown, they are Pat Shurmur said. “That’s now among the most import- fun for everybody to talk ant pieces for storied fran- about outside the building. chises trying to get back to the Super Bowl.
And each was the first running back taken in his draft: Elliott fourth overall in 2016 and Barkley at No. 2 this year.
“They’re powerfully built guys,” Shurmur said. “When I say ‘collision balance,’ in the hole, guys bouncing off, and they can keep their balance. (Elliott’s) production in his first two years had nothing to do with us selecting Saquon, but they’re similar in a lot of ways.”
Ezekiel Elliott (left) was the first tailback drafted in 2016, and Saquon Barkley matched his feat this year.