PREVIEW: Alabama vs. Penn State

By Tony Carter
Coming off an impressive 48 – 7 win over Kent state, the Alabama Crimson Tide travels this weekend to Happy Valley to take on the Penn State Nittany Lions who enjoyed an equally impressive victory of 41-7 over Indiana St. Penn State tallied up over 250 yards of rushing although against a team that had a less than impressive 8 – 67 record over past several seasons.

The Nittany Lions quarterbacks managed the game ok, but were pressured all afternoon (three sacks and multiple quarterback hurries and knockdowns). Expect the Alabama defense to exploit the shaky Penn State pass blocking situation. This should mean a possible big day Alabama’s end rushers including Courtney Upshaw.

Penn State’s strength arguably is its wide receiver corps (with three returning starters) which should challenge the Alabama defensive secondary with a lot of underneath passes. However, Alabama’s secondary might be one of the best in the nation, and could negate most of the Nittany Lions’ vertical passing due to lack of pocket time for Penn State’s quarterbacks.

The Alabama Crimson Tide’s pass blocking was sufficient against Kent State, but rush blocking must improve against a faster more athletic defensive opponent on Saturday.

Watch for increased playing time for Alabama backup running back Eddie Lacy. Lacy is averaging a staggering 12 yards per touch; he is continuing where he left off from last year’s bowl game against another Big Ten member Michigan State.

Alabama is a 9.5 to 10-point favorite on the road over the Nittany Lions. Alabama leads the series 9 wins to 5 losses. Last year, Alabama defeated Penn State 24-3. The last time Alabama played at Penn State was 1989 when a dramatic field goal block preserved a 17-16 win for the Crimson Tide. Penn State’s Joe Paterno has coached in every meeting between Alabama and his Nittany Lions.

Prediction: Alabama 24 Penn State 17
Video of Alabama’s last trip to Penn State and the dramatic 17-16 win.