Fiesta Bowl matchups: Myles Gaskin vs. PSU linebackers

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 25: Running back Myles Gaskin
SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 25: Running back Myles Gaskin /
SEATTLE, WA – NOVEMBER 25: Running back Myles Gaskin
SEATTLE, WA – NOVEMBER 25: Running back Myles Gaskin /

RB Myles Gaskin faces off against PSU’s strong linebackers in the Fiesta Bowl. The Nittany Lions hold the 16th-ranked rush defense. But Washington Husky running back Gaskin is arguably more effective than PSU’s Saquon Barkley.

If you follow the Washington Football team, you already know that Washington tailback Myles Gaskin remains one of the more underrated players in college football. He generated over 1500 yards from scrimmage and 22 total offensive touchdowns in 2017. This comes on the tail of his previous two seasons rushing for over 1,300 yards and scoring 14 and 11 touchdowns respectively.  In his career, he’s rushed for over 3,800 yards carried the ball 43 times into the end zone.

Can Penn State’s defense stop Gaskin this Saturday?

Gaskin’s legacy

Gaskin has cemented his name in Washington football record books, and speculation on his potential move to the NFL following his junior season has begun to swirl.

Gaskin has acknowledged that the thought of leaving one year early for the draft has entered his  mind. Nonetheless, he will play at least one more game in the purple and gold.

Primed and fired up

The third-year back found his stride in week four this season and never looked back. He is averaging over six yards per carry, thanks especially to his efforts in his final five regular season games. He rushed for at least 120 yards in four of his last five games, capped off with a four touchdown, 192 yard showing in the Apple Cup. And that has earned the respect of his teammates, particularly defensive standout Vita Vea:

Gaskin’s greatest help may come from the other tailbacks. Lavon Coleman and Salvon Ahmed have both made major contributions to the UW offense throughout the season, allowing Gaskin to avoid being an every-down player. And they compliment one another well. Coleman is a punishing runner, while Ahmed is pure blinding speed. Gaskin is a combination of both, using quickness to slash through the line and power to beat up on defensive backs.

The state of PSU’s linebacking corps

The two Nittany Lions most responsible for tackling Gaskin — linebackers Jason Cabinda and Brandon Smith. Cabinda is the leading PSU tackler, with 86 total tackles (seven for loss) and a pair of forced fumbles.

Another major development leading into the Fiesta Bowl is Penn State’s third linebacker, and fifth-leading tackler, Manny Bowen’s dismissal from the PSU program. Bowen has been suspended for three games, but was on pace to be Penn State’s second-best tackler earlier in the year.

Penn State has been able to recover from losing Bowen in its previous three games. However, Gaskin may be the toughest rushing threat the Nittany Lions have seen this season.

Next: 3 Breakout Stars for Washington Football in 2018

Should the Huskies get their running game established early on, quarterback Jake Browning will have time to find his receivers and keep the chains moving.