PREVIEW NOTES: Alabama at Penn State

Here are the preview notes courtesy of UA Media Relations:

GAME 2: ALABAMA (1-0, 0-0 SEC) VS. PENN STATE (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten) SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2011 • 2:30 P.M. • ABC BEAVER STADIUM (106,572) • STATE COLLEGE, PA.

THE GAME: Alabama will travel to State College, Pa., to take on the Penn State Nittany Lions on Saturday, September 10, at Beaver Stadium. It will mark the 15th meeting between the two traditional rivals and the 14th time that legendary coach Joe Paterno will have faced the Crimson Tide as head coach. The game will be televised on ABC with kickoff set for 2:30 p.m. CT. Brad Nessler will serve as the play-by-play announcer, with Todd Blackledge at his side as the color analyst. The two will be joined by sideline reporter Holly Rowe. Eli Gold and Phil Savage will handle the radio call on the Crimson Tide Sports Network, with Chris Stewart serving as sideline reporter.

HEAD COACH NICK SABAN: Alabama head coach Nick Saban (Kent State, 1973) is in his fifth season with the Crimson Tide. Named the school’s 27th head coach on Jan. 3, 2007, Saban has compiled a 39-11 record (44-11 before five vacated wins in 2007) at Alabama while leading the Tide to two SEC Western Division championships, one conference title and one national championship. Saban holds a career record of 130-53-1 (135-53-1) as a collegiate head coach, while also serving at Toledo, Michigan State and LSU. Saban won his first national championship as head coach of the LSU Tigers in 2003, guiding the Tigers to a 13-1 record that season. Overall, Saban has coached four conference championship teams (1990 Mid-American, 2001 SEC, 2003 SEC and 2009 SEC) and 11 of his 14 teams have played in postseason bowl games with the Tide appearing in a bowl game each year under Saban’s direction. Saban is also the only active coach to win two BCS National Championships and the first to accomplish the feat at two different schools.

RANKINGS: Alabama opened the 2011 season ranked second in the Associated Press and USA TODAY Coaches’ preseason polls, while Penn State is receiving votes in the Associated Press poll and is 25th in the USA TODAY Coaches’ poll.

PENN STATE SERIES: Alabama and Penn State continue one of the great rivalries in college football on Saturday as the traditional powers face off in Beaver Stadium. It will be the 15th renewal of the series, and second in as many years. The Crimson Tide leads the series 9-5, including a slight 3-2 edge over the Nittany Lions in State College. This will be the Tide’s first appearance in Beaver Stadium since the 1989 season, when Alabama earned a 17-16 victory. Penn State head coach Joe Paterno has been on the sidelines for all 14 meetings between the two schools, the first coming in the 1959 Liberty Bowl while Paterno was still a Nittany Lion assistant coach. The Tide captured the 1978 national championship with a victory over the Nittany Lions in the Sugar Bowl.
NEXT GAME: Alabama returns home to face the North Texas Mean Green on Saturday, September 17, at Bryant-Denny Stadium. This will be the fourth time the teams have met, all of them having occurred in Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Crimson Tide leads the series 3-0 and last faced off against the Mean Green in 2009, earning a 53-7 victory. Kickoff for the game is set for 6:30 p.m. CT on the Fox Sports Network.
SERIES NOTES

THE ALABAMA/PENN STATE SERIES: The Alabama/Penn State rivalry has a storied history in the annuals of college football. On Saturday the rivalry is renewed in State College for the first time since 1989 and just the second time since 1990. Alabama beat Penn State 24-3 last season in Tuscaloosa. It will be the 15th renewal of a series the Crimson Tide lead 9-5. UA boasts a 3-2 edge in the series in State College, collecting wins in 1981 (31-6), 1987 (24-13 and 1989 (17-16). PSU head coach Joe Paterno has been on the sidelines for all 14 meetings between the two schools, the first coming in the 1959 Liberty Bowl while Paterno was still a Nittany Lion assistant coach. Paterno, who took over as the Nittany Lions head coach in 1966, is 4-9 as the Penn State head coach against Alabama. Crimson Tide legendary head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant faced the Nittany Lions five times during his tenure in Tuscaloosa, posting a 4-1 record. The biggest of those wins for Bryant earned his 1978 team a national championship with a 14-7 victory over PSU in the 1979 Sugar Bowl.

ALABAMA VS. THE BIG TEN: The Crimson Tide have a brief, but storied history against the current Big Ten field, with its most popular matchup being against the Nittany Lions. Alabama owns a 15-9 (.625) record against the programs that currently make up the Big Ten Conference. The Tide has only played seven games against the Big Ten in the past 20 years, with five of those match ups coming in bowl games and two last season. Alabama defeated Penn State in the regular season and then dismantled co-Big 10 Champion Michigan State 49-7 in the Capital One Bowl. Minnesota defeated Alabama 20-16 in the 2004 Music City Bowl, which was the last meeting of a Big 10 opponent before last season. Before last season’s Penn State matchup, the Crimson Tide’s last regular season game against the Big Ten came on Oct. 27, 1990, when Penn State beat Alabama 9-0 in Tuscaloosa.

SABAN VS. PENN STATE: While at Michigan State, Saban compiled a 2-3 (.400) record against the Nittany Lions of Penn State, an impressive mark considering Michigan State has only beaten Penn State a total of four times program history. Saban then evened his career record (3-3) against PSU last season with a 24-3 victory in Tuscaloosa. Saban’s first two losses against Penn State were by a combined seven points, against a team ranked 14th in 1995 and seventh in 1996. One of the first wins that put Saban on the proverbial coaching map was his Spartans’ 49-14 slashing of then-No. 4 ranked Penn State on Nov. 29, 1997. Saban would go on to claim the Land Grant Trophy one final time, beating Penn State 35-28 on Nov. 20, 1999, his last game as head coach at Michigan State.

Penn State (9-5-0)
Date Result Site Score Total
Dec. 19, 1959 L N* 0-7 0-7

Dec. 31, 1975 W N** 13-6 13-13

Jan. 1, 1979 W N** 14-7 27-20

Nov. 14, 1981 W A 31-16 58-36

Oct. 9, 1982 W H*** 42-21 100-57

Oct. 8, 1983 L A 28-34 128-91

Oct. 13, 1984 W H 6-0 134-91

Oct. 12, 1985 L A 17-19 151-110

Oct. 25, 1986 L H 3-23 154-133

Sept. 12, 1987 W A 24-13 178-146

Oct. 22, 1988 W H*** 8-3 186-149

Oct. 28, 1989 W A 17-16 203-165

Oct. 27, 1990 L H 0-9 203-174

Sept. 11, 2010 W H 24-3 227-177
*—Liberty Bowl (Philadelphia)
**—Sugar Bowl (New Orleans)
***—Birmingham