For­mer Big 10 ri­vals Elliott, Barkley square off in NFC East show­down

The Palm Beach Post - - NFL GAME DAY -

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.

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