You've probably heard about how tough Penn State is against the run this year. You've also probably heard that the Nittany Lions are bringing the No. 6 ranked rush defense in the nation with them to the Valero Alamo Bowl on Saturday, which should make it difficult for the three-headed rushing attack of Texas A&M.
"Not so fast, my friend."
The Nittany Lions have made a statistical living off of lesser teams this year on the ground, holding Florida International, Notre Dame and Temple to a combined 1 rushing yard in three games. And while that stat is pretty impressive—regardless of the opponent—let's not get carried away with Penn State's stingy rush defense just yet.
Florida International is the No. 98 rushing offense in the country, while Temple is ranked No. 108 with Notre Dame trailing at a miserable No. 116, averaging just 75 yards per game on the ground all season.
When faced with stiffer competition, the Nittany Lions aren't quite as dominating.
Penn State has faced off against four of the top-25 rushing teams in nation this year—Illinois (No. 5), Wisconsin (No. 20), Ohio State (No. 21) and Michigan State (No. 23)—and has allowed a much more pedestrian 162 rushing yards per game in those contests, posting an 1-3 record against those teams as well.
PSU faced five of the nations' top-25 individual rushing leaders this year as well, four of whom played for Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio State or Michigan State.
Michigan's Mike Hart, who was the No. 6 rusher in college football this season, posted a 153-yard effort on 44 carries against Penn State as well. His 153-yard day was the most yardage given up to a single player all year for PSU, and his 44 carries set a record for the most carries allowed by Penn State in school history. Penn State lost to the Wolverines, 14-9.
Two of the other top-12 individual rushers in the nation, Illinois' Rashard Mendenhall (No. 8) and Ohio State's Chris Wells (No. 12), had pretty good outings against the Penn State rush defense as well. Mendenhall ran for 76 yards on 18 carries in a 27-20 win over PSU, and Wells ran for 133 yards on 25 carries in a 37-17 win for the Buckeyes.
The Nittany Lions held Michigan State's Javon Ringer (No. 20) for just 48 yards on 13 carries, but gave up 103 yards on 22 carries to his teammate Jehuu Caulcrick. The Michigan State running backs combined for 145 rushing yards in a 35-31 come-from-behind victory over Penn State.
It was the fourth time this year that a PSU opponent ran for at least 145 yards. Penn State lost each of those four games.
If 145 rushing yards is the magic number for Penn State opponents this year, that bodes well for the Aggies, who boast the No. 12 rushing attack in the nation, and are 7-1 this season when rushing for 145 yards or more.
The Aggies have run for 150 yards or more in eight games this year, including six games with at least 200 yards and an incredible four 300-yard performances on the ground.
A&M has done it against decent rush defenses as well, including a 171-yard effort against Texas, who finished the season as the No. 10 ranked rush defense in the nation.
If the Aggies can rush for 150-plus yards and utilize the arm of Stephen McGee like they did in the 38-30 win against Texas, it could be an extremely nice going away present for the seniors and the coaching staff in their last game at Texas A&M.
Can PSU stop Aggies' rushing attack?
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