Alabama vs. Penn State preview notes

Alabama Crimson Tide

The University of Alabama Media Relations sent out the preview notes for this week’s Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Penn St. Nittany Lions football game. Tons of interesting facts in the official release:

GAME 2: ALABAMA (1-0, 0-0 SEC)
VS. PENN STATE (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

THE GAME: The University of Alabama football team renews a tradition-rich rivalry on Saturday, September 11, when they host No. 19/14 Penn State at the newly expanded Bryant-Denny Stadium. The game will mark the first contest since 1990 for two of the most storied programs in college football. The game will be televised on ESPN with kickoff set for 6:06 p.m. (CDT). Brent Musburger will call the action with Kirk Herbstreit as the color analyst and Erin Andrews reporting from the sideline. ESPN GameDay will broadcast also live from Tuscaloosa Saturday morning. Eli Gold and Phil Savage will handle the radio call on the CTSN.

HEAD COACH NICK SABAN: Alabama head coach Nick Saban (Kent State, 1973) is in his fourth season with the Crimson Tide. He was named the school’s 27th head coach on Jan. 3, 2007, Saban has compiled a 29-8 record (34-8 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 120-50-1 (125-50-1) 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 10 of his 13 teams have played in postseason bowl games with the Tide appearing in a bowl game each year under Saban’s direction. Saban is also one of two coaches (Urban Meyer, Florida) to win two BCS National Championships and the first to accomplish the feat at two different schools.

RANKINGS: Alabama opened the 2010 season ranked first in the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches’ preseason polls. It is the highest preseason ranking since the Tide started the 1978 season atop the AP poll. Alabama went on to win the national championship that season, although the team did not go ‘wire-to-wire’ at number one, suffering a loss to Southern California in the third week of the season. It marks just the third time in school history that Alabama has been selected as the AP preseason No. 1 (1966, 1978 & 2010). Penn State is ranked 19th in the preseason AP poll and 14th in the coaches poll.

PENN STATE SERIES: Alabama and Penn State renew one of the great rivalries in college football on Saturday as the traditional powers face off in the newly expanded Bryant-Denny Stadium. It will be the 14th renewal of the series, but the first game since Oct. 27, 1990. The Crimson Tide lead the series 8-5 but the Nittany Lions own a 2-1 edge in Tuscaloosa with a 23-3 win in 1986 and a 9-0 victory in 1990. Alabama’s only win over the Nittany Lions in Tuscaloosa came in a 6-0 win in 1984. PSU head coach Joe Paterno has been on the sidelines for all 13 meetings between the two schools, the first coming in the 1959 Liberty Bowl while Paterno was still a Nittany Lion assistant coach. Paterno is 4-8 as the Penn State head coach against Alabama. The Tide captured the 1978 national championship with a victory over PSU in the Sugar Bowl.

NEXT GAME: Alabama makes its first road trip of the 2010 season with a visit to Durham, North Carolina, to take on the Duke Blue Devils at 2:30 p.m. (CDT) on Saturday, Sept. 18. It will be the fourth meeting between the two schools but the first trip to Durham for the Tide. UA has won the last two meetings that include a 30-14 win in Tuscaloosa in 2006 and a 35-12 victory in Birmingham in 1972. Duke’s only win in the series came at the conclusion of the 1944 season with at 29-26 victory in the 1945 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
ALABAMA DEGREES: Alabama’s success on the field over the past two seasons under the direction of head coach Nick Saban has also coincided with the Crimson Tide’s success in the classroom. After playing the 2010 BCS National Championship Game with 21 players that already had their degrees. The 2010 Crimson Tide begins the season with four players that already have degrees in hand, including Earl Alexander (financial planning), Greg McElroy (business marketing), Brian Motley (general studies) and David Ross (consumer affairs). Over the past three seasons (2008-10) the Crimson Tide has seen 31 players compete for the Crimson Tide after having already graduated.

STADIUM RENOVATION: The newest expansion project for Bryant-Denny Stadium raised seating capacity to 101,821, making it one of the five largest on-campus football stadiums in the nation. The expansion is the fourth expansion of this magnificent edifice since 1988 and the seventh expansion in the stadium’s history. This renovation mirrors the north end zone project that was completed in 2006. It consist of roughly 9,600 additional seats, 1,700 South Zone Club seats, two corner video boards, an upper concourse with concessions and restrooms, 36 skyboxes, the Crimson Tide Foundation offices, Donor Hall of Fame and an outdoor market with Zoe’s Kitchen, Yogart Lab and a new university admissions office welcome center. Alabama’s season-opening crowd of 101,821 is a new record for the school and the most people to ever watch a football game in the state of Alabama.

ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY: ESPN’s College GameDay will make its first appearance in Tuscaloosa since 2007 on Saturday when the top-ranked Crimson Tide welcome No. 19 Penn State to Bryant-Denny Stadium. It will mark Alabama’s 18th appearance (9-8 record) on ESPN College GameDay and its ninth appearance under head coach Nick Saban. It will be GameDay’s sixth trip to Tuscaloosa overall and then ninth time that Alabama has hosted GameDay (three times in Birmingham). GameDay’s last appearance in Tuscaloosa was Sept. 22, 2007, for UA’s showdown with No. 22 Georgia. Since that time, Alabama has appeared on ESPN College GameDay seven other times, all away from Bryant-Denny Stadium, posting a 6-1 record in those contests. The nine appearances in the Saban era tie Florida for the most GameDay appearances since the 2007 season. The Crimson Tide was on four times in 2008 against Clemson, Georgia, LSU and Florida. The Tide then made three appearances during the 2009 season against Virginia Tech and Florida in Atlanta and Texas at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

Nov. 19, 1994 #6 Auburn at #4 Alabama (Birmingham) UA, 21-14
Oct. 14, 1995 #6 Tennessee at #12 Alabama (Birmingham) UT, 41-14
Nov. 18, 1995 #17 Alabama at #21 Auburn AU, 31-27
Nov. 9, 1996 #10 Alabama at #11 LSU UA, 26-0
Nov. 23, 1996 Auburn at #15 Alabama (Birmingham) UA, 24-23
Sept. 1, 2001 #17 UCLA at #25 Alabama UCLA, 20-17
Oct. 5, 2002 #6 Georgia at Alabama UGA, 27-25
Sept. 6, 2003 #1 Oklahoma at Alabama OU, 20-13
Nov. 12, 2005 #5 LSU at #3 Alabama LSU, 16-13 (OT)
Sept. 22, 2007 #22 Georgia at #16 Alabama UGA, 26-23 (OT)
Aug. 30, 2008 #24 Alabama vs. #9 Clemson (Atlanta, Ga.) UA, 34-10
Sept. 27, 2008 #8 Alabama at #3 Georgia UA, 41-30
Nov. 8, 2008 #1 Alabama at #16 LSU UA, 27-21 (OT)
Dec. 6, 2008 #1 Alabama vs. #4 Florida (Atlanta, Ga.) UF, 31-20
Sept. 5, 2009 #5 Alabama vs. #7 Virginia Tech (Atlanta, Ga.) UA, 34-24
Dec. 5, 2009 #2 Alabama vs. #1 Florida (Atlanta, Ga.) UA, 32-13
Jan. 7, 2010 #1 Alabama vs. #2 Texas (Pasadena, Calif.) UA, 37-21
Sept. 11, 2010 #1 Alabama vs. #19 Penn State

STREAKING AT BRYANT-DENNY: Alabama has won 15 consecutive games at Bryant-Denny Stadium dating back to the home opener against Tulane in 2008. It is the fifth-longest streak in school history at Bryant-Denny Stadium and just one shy of the fourth-place streak. The longest winning streak at Bryant-Denny Stadium is 57 games from Oct. 26, 1963 to Nov. 13, 1982. During the current streak, the Crimson Tide is 8-0 against SEC competition and 2-0 against top-25 teams.

Longest Winning Streaks at BDS
57 Oct. 26, 1963 – Nov. 13, 1982
20 Nov. 1, 1941 – Nov. 11, 1950
18 Sept. 28, 1929 – Sept. 28, 1935
16 Nov. 23, 1957 – Oct. 12, 1963
16 Nov. 9, 1935 – Oct. 12, 1940
15 Sept. 6, 2008 – Present

TOUGH SLATE: Alabama will once again have one of the most difficult schedules in the nation with five games against teams ranked in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll top 25. The Tide will face No. 14 Penn State on Sept. 11 and then travel to No. 17 Arkansas on Sept. 25. The Tide’s other preseason top-25 opponents include Florida, LSU and Auburn.

RETURNING SUCCESS: Much of the talk in the preseason has been about Alabama‘s high-powered offense, and the offensive side of the football is where the Crimson Tide returns the biggest portion of its players from last year’s BCS National Championship team. UA features 10 total returning starters and 39 lettermen this season, but eight of those returning starters are on the offensive side of the football with two on defense. The offense returns 84 percent of the rushing yards from last season (2,526 of 3,011). Greg McElroy, who took 94 percent of the snaps at quarterback last season, returns with four of his top five receivers from 2009 (Jones, Ingram, Maze, Hanks and Richardson).

TIDE PLAYERS EARN EARLY ACCOLADES: Ten Alabama players have been named to 15 different preseason awards watch lists heading into the 2010 season. The players have been recognized before the start of the 2010 season as potentially the top players at their position nationally.
Mark Barron, Marcell Dareus, Dont’a Hightower and Greg McElroy each appear on four watch lists. Barron, Dareus and Hightower are on the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award (best defensive player), as well as the Bronko Nagurski Award (defensive player of the year). McElroy has been named to ever major quarterback award watch list that has been announced, including the Manning Award (top quarterback), Davey O’Brien Award (top quarterback) and the Unitas Golden Arm Award (top senior quarterback). McElroy was also named to the Maxwell Award (most outstanding player) watch list.
Crimson Tide offensive stars Mark Ingram and Julio Jones are well represented in watch lists as well. Jones appears on the lists for the Biletnikoff Award (best receiver) and the Maxwell Award, while Ingram appears on watch lists for the Walter Camp Award (player of the year), the Maxwell Award and the Doak Walker Award (best running back). Last year as a sophomore, Ingram ran for a school single season record 1,658 yards in route to winning the school’s first ever Heisman Trophy.

TWO TIDE PLAYERS NAMED PLAYBOY ALL-AMERICANS: Alabama landed two players on the 2010 Playboy Magazine annual preseason College Football All-America Team. Mark Ingram was selected as a running back and Julio Jones was picked at wide receiver. Alabama has now had six Playboy All-Americans in the last three years after Andre Smith was chosen in 2008 and Rolando McClain and Javier Arenas were selected in 2009. This is Julio Jones’ second straight year on the Playboy All-America team.

PRESEASON ALL-AMERICANS: The Crimson Tide has had six players earn preseason All-America accolades from various publications leading up to the start of the 2010 campaign. The list includes Mark Barron, Marcell Dareus, Dont’a Hightower, Mark Ingram, Barrett Jones and Julio Jones. Both Ingram and Julio Jones were selected to the Playboy Preseason All-America Team.

SABAN AMONG THE BEST: Head coach Nick Saban’s arrival in Tuscaloosa led to the Crimson Tide’s rapid rise up the national rankings. That success in such a short period of time has impacted the Tide’s record book. Saban produced the largest win increase from year one to year two in school history as Alabama went from seven wins in 2007 to 12 wins in 2008. He is one of two coaches (Bob Stoops, Oklahoma) in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) football to have coached 10 years and never suffered through a losing season. Saban achieved more firsts in 2009 with back-to-back 10-win seasons and his first undefeated campaign. He ranks fourth in winning percentage (70.5 percent) among active coaches who have coached at least 10 years of FBS football. Saban is also one of two coaches (Urban Meyer, Florida) to win two BCS National Championships and the first to accomplish the feat at two different schools.

McELROY WINS ANSON MOUNT: Senior quarterback Greg McElroy was selected as the winner of the Anson Mount Student-Athlete Award by Playboy when the publication named its preseason All-America team. Playboy will send a check for $5,000 to the University of Alabama’s general scholarship fund in McElroy’s name.

FIRST-TIME STARTERS FOR THE CRIMSON TIDE: A total of 15 Alabama players made their first collegiate starts against San Jose State – 10 positional starters and 5 specialists. Three first-time starters were on offense: LG Chance Warmack, RT DJ Fluker, RB Trent Richardson. Seven first-time starters were on defense: DE Damion Square, DE Luther Davis, Sam LB Chavis Williams, Will LB Jerrell Harris, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, CB DeQuan Menzie and FS Robert Lester. Five more made starting debuts on special teams: deep snapper Carson Tinker, kickoff specialist and distance field goal kicker Cade Foster, punter Cody Mandell and place-kicker Jeremy Shelley.

TRUE FRESHMEN START SEASON OPENER: Alabama has had 13 true freshmen start the season opener since freshmen regained their eligibility from the NCAA in 1973. A pair of true freshmen started the season opener in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Specialists Cade Foster (place-kicker) and Cody Mandell (punter) notched their first career start last Saturday against San Jose State. In 2007, Rolando McClain (LB) and Kareem Jackson (CB) started against Western Carolina while both Dont’a Hightower (LB) and Julio Jones (WR) got the nod against Clemson in 2008. It is the fourth time in school history UA has started two true freshman in a season opener. Alabama has started at least one true freshman in the season opener in four of the last five seasons as left tackle Andre Smith started his first game at Alabama in the 2006 season opener against Hawai’i.

ALABAMA TIED FOR MOST WINS OVER LAST TWO-PLUS YEARS: Alabama has won 27 games dating back to the start of the 2008 season, which is tied for the most in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Crimson Tide won 12 games in 2008, followed that with a perfect 14-0 record in 2009 and is off to a 1-0 start in 2010. Alabama is joined by Florida with 27 wins over the past two years while Boise State is at 26 wins prior to tonight’s game with Virginia Tech.

TOTAL WINS (2008-present)
Team Total wins 2008/2009/2010
Alabama 27 12/14/1
Florida 27 13/13/1
Boise State 26 12/14/0
Texas 26 12/13/1
TCU 24 11/12/1
Penn State 23 11/11/1
Utah 23 12/10/1
Cincinnati 23 11/12/0

21 NATIONAL TV GAMES IN LAST 30 GAMES: The Penn State game in Tuscloosa on Saturday, which will be broadcast on ESPN, will be the Crimson Tide’s 21st national television game since the start of the 2008 season. In 2009, UA played two games on ABC, including the BCS National Championship Game and six games on CBS while ESPN broadcast two more Crimson Tide games. In 2008, Alabama had 10 of its 14 games broadcast nationally, including five games on CBS, three games on ESPN, one on ABC and one on FOX.

2009 OFFENSE ONE OF SCHOOL’S BEST: Alabama returns eight starters from the 2009 offense that put together one of best seasons in school history. The Crimson Tide set a school-record with 5,642 yards of total offense, including 3,011 rushing yards (11th in school history) and 2,631 passing yards (5th in school history). The Tide also scored the second-most points in the 115-year history of the program with 448 (32.1 points per game). UA scored the fifth-most offensive touchdowns in a season with 48, completed the fourth-highest total of passes with 212 and set the school mark with 30 field goals.

McELROY’S NIGHT: Senior quarterback Greg McElroy passed for 218 yards and a touchdown while completing 13 of 16 pass attempts without throwing an interception in the season opener against San Jose State. McElroy has attempted 114 passes since his last interception (LSU, 2009), which is the second-longest streak during his career (141 attempts in 2009). His current streak of attempts without an interception is the sixth longest in school history, while his 141-attempt streak last season is the third longest in school history. McElroy has thrown just five interceptions in 361 career pass attempts.

TIDE’S RUNNING GAME STILL STRONG IN INGRAM’S ABSENCE: Sophomore running back Trent Richardson rushed for two touchdowns in the early stages of the season opener against San Jose State, scoring on a four-yard run to give Alabama a 7-0 lead with 11:38 remaining in the opening period, then racing 39 yards for a touchdown to give the Tide a 21-3 lead early in the second period. Richardson ended the game with 66 yards rushing on 10 attempts (6.6-yard average per carry). Redshirt freshman running back Eddie Lacy also had a good showing in his first-career action with a pair of touchdown runs and 111 yards rushing on 13 attempts.

OFFENSIVE LINE IMPRESSIVE: Alabama’s 2010 starting five on the offensive line got off to a good start in the season opener against San Jose State, churning out 591 yards of total offense (334 passing, 257 rushing) while allowing just one sack. UA replaced two starters from the 2009 unit, with Chance Warmack taking over for All-American Mike Johnson at left guard and D.J. Fluker filling the shoes of two-year starter Drew Davis at right tackle. The Tide offensive line also kept another amazing streak in tacked against San Jose State, making it 42 consecutive quarters without an offensive holding call. The Alabama offensive line’s last holding penalty came in the middle of the second quarter of the Kentucky game on October 3, 2009, when left tackle James Carpenter was flagged. The streak spans 10 complete games and roughly 639 minutes of game action.

RETURNING HEISMAN WINNER: Alabama running back Mark Ingram returns for his junior season after capturing the school’s first Heisman Trophy on the 75th anniversary of the award in 2009. Ingram rushed for 1,658 yards and 20 total touchdowns and became the first Heisman Trophy winning running back to also help his team win the national championship in the same season since Tony Dorsett in 1976. Ingram is also one of just six players to win the Heisman Trophy and a national championship in the same season since 1950. He is also the first Heisman Trophy winning running back to return the following season since Oklahoma’s Billy Sims returned for his senior year in 1979. Sims won the 1978 Heisman Trophy, but finished second to Charles White of Southern California in 1979.

A BALANCED ATTACK: Alabama returned to the nation’s elite in 2008 with a punishing ground attack that wore down defenses and took shots down the field. In 2009, the Tide brought more balance to the table on offense. UA still had an outstanding ground game and an aerial attack to match with quarterback Greg McElroy. The Tide showed good balance in their offensive numbers, averaging 215.07 rushing yards and 187.93 yards passing per game. But with eight returning starters in 2010, the Crimson Tide offense has a chance to be one of the most explosive in school history.
Alabama showed that balance in the opening game of the 2010 season with 591 yards of total offense, including 334 yards in the air and 257 on the ground. The Tide threw 30 total passes (42.3 percent) — completing 22 (73.3 percent) — while running the ball 41 times (57.7 percent).

McELROY ON THE MARK: Quarterback Greg McElroy was impressive in his first season as the Crimson Tide’s starting quarterback, completing 60.9 percent (198 of 325) of his passes for 2,508 yards and 17 touchdowns with only four interceptions. He boasted a 140.55 passing efficiency rating, which ranked 28th nationally and fourth in the SEC. He has won his last 31 starts at quarterback, going 16-0 as a high school senior in 2005 and 15-0 for the Tide. With just five interceptions in 361 career attempts, McElroy holds the school record for lowest interception percentage at 1.39 percent or one interception every 72.2 career attempts, which is currently first on the SEC career charts.

100-YARD RUSHERS AND RECEIVERS: Alabama had 22 100-yard rushers and eight 100-yard receivers over the last three-plus seasons since Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa. Junior running back Mark Ingram has recorded 10 100-yard rushing games during his career while Trent Richardson has two 100-yard rushing efforts and Eddie Lacy one. Junior Julio Jones is the only current player on the roster with a 100-yard receiving game. Under Saban, Alabama has gone 20-1 in those 21 games (both Ingram and Richardson went for 100 yards against Texas). The LSU game on Nov. 7, 2009, marked the fourth time under Saban that Alabama has had a 100-yard rusher and receiver in the same game. The Texas game also marked the first time under Saban that Alabama has had two 100-yard rushers in the same game. It was just the 11th time in school history two players rushed for 100 yards in the same game and the first time since Kenneth Darby and Ray Hudson did it against Utah State on September 4, 2004.

GROUND DEFENSE: The Crimson Tide has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in an astonishing 35 games, dating back to Oct. 13, 2007, when Mississippi’s BenJarvus Green-Ellis went for 131 yards. That is the longest streak in the nation, 11 games more than second-place Ohio State (24 games). Alabama was one of three teams not to allow a 100-yard rusher in 2009 and is the only team not to surrender a 100-yard rusher in 2008 or 2009. Over the past two seasons, 2008 and 2009, the Crimson Tide has held 24 opponents to under 100 yards rushing with only LSU and Florida in 2008 and Kentucky, Mississippi State and Auburn in 2009 able to crack the 100-yard barrier as a team.

Team Consecutive Games Last Time It Happened (Opponent)
Alabama 35 Oct. 13, 2007 (Mississippi)
Ohio State 24 Sept. 13, 2008 (USC)
Penn State 16 Nov. 8, 2008 (Iowa)

FORCING TURNOVERS: Alabama’s ability to produce turnovers in recent years and fueled the Crimson Tide’s success. The Crimson Tide finished the season ranked fourth nationally in turnover margin at plus-19 (1.36 per game). Alabama has forced 81 turnovers in 42 games under head coach Nick Saban (an average of 1.93 per game) while forcing 31 turnovers in 14 games last season. The UA offense only turned the ball over 12 times (5 interceptions, 7 fumbles) in 2009. The Crimson Tide have forced one turnover in 2010 (an interception) and lost one (fumble). Alabama forced 24 turnovers in 2007 for a plus-4 turnover ratio and then recorded 25 turnovers and ended the season with a plus-6 turnover margin in 2008. Alabama has recorded at least one turnover in 37 of 42 games under Saban. UA is 31-6 under Saban when gaining at least one turnover. Alabama is 3-2 in games without a turnover over the last three seasons.

DEFENSE TOUGH ON THIRD DOWN: Third-down defense has also been a staple for the over the past two seasons. The Crimson Tide defense was strong on third down in 2009, ranking sixth nationally and allowing a 29.90 conversion rate (58 for 194). The Crimson Tide finished third nationally in third down conversion defense in 2008, holding opponents to a 28.14 percent (56 of 199) conversion rate. Alabama was even better in its 2010 season opener, allowing just one third-down conversion in 13 attempts (7.7 percent).

HIGHTOWER RETURNS: Sophomore linebacker Dont’a Hightower returns for this third season at the Capstone as the man in the middle of Nick Saban and Kirby Smart’s complex defensive scheme. Hightower received a medical redshirt for the 2009 season after suffering a torn ACL in the fourth game of the season against Arkansas. An amazingly quick recovery returned him to the practice field with full contact during spring drills. Hightower, who played will linebacker during his first two years at UA, will now move over to fill the mike linebacker role left by the departed Buktus Award winner Rolando McClain, who was the eighth overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft. Hightower should also see time with his hand in the dirt on passing downs to take advantage of his pass-rushing skills. The Lewisburg, Tenn., native has 83 career tackles with 6.5 tackles for loss and eight quarterback hurries. Hightower had three tackles – two solo in the season opener.

BARRON MAKING PRESENCE KNOWN: Safety Mark Barron enters the 2010 season as one of the most prominent safeties in the nation. The Mobile, Ala., native was a first-team All-SEC player a year ago, leading the league with seven interceptions while garnering third-team All-America honors. He registered 76 tackles to rank second on the Alabama defense. Barron led the SEC — along with teammate Marquis Johnson — in passes defended with 18 (11 PBU, 7 INT) and ranked tied for sixth nationally with 1.29 passes defended per game. He had three tackles in the 2010 season-opener.

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 for the first time in 20 years as the traditional powers face off inside Bryant-Denny Stadium. It will be the 14th renewal of the series, but the first game since Oct. 27, 1990. The Crimson Tide lead the series 8-5 but the Nittany Lions own a 2-1 edge in Tuscaloosa with a 23-3 win in 1986 and a 9-0 victory in 1990. Alabama’s only win over the Nittany Lions in Tuscaloosa came in a 6-0 win in 1984. PSU head coach Joe Paterno has been on the sidelines for all 13 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 4-8 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.

Penn State (8-5-0)
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
*—Liberty Bowl (Philadelphia)
**—Sugar Bowl (New Orleans)

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 13-9 (.591) record against the programs that currently make up the Big Ten Conference. The Tide have only played five games against the Big Ten in the past 20 years, with four of those match ups coming in bowl games. Minnesota defeated Alabama 20-16 in the most recent matchup, which came in the 2004 Music City Bowl. Alabama’s last win against a Big Ten team came in the 1997 Outback Bowl when the Crimson Tide took down Michigan 17-14, in Gene Stallings’ last game as head coach at Alabama. 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. THE BIG TEN: While Alabama has a surprising brief history against the Big Ten, head coach Nick Saban knows the conference quite well having played 42 games against Big Ten opponents, nearly all of those coming during his five year tenure at Michigan State. Saban has compiled a 24-17-1 (.583) record against Big Ten opponents. Since leaving Michigan State Saban has only faced a Big Ten opponent twice (both at LSU), defeating Illinois 47-34 in the 2002 Sugar Bowl and losing to Iowa 30-25 in the 2005 Capital One Bowl, Saban’s last game with the Tigers. Saban’s last regular season game against a Big Ten team came in his last game at Michigan State in 1999, a 35-28 win over Penn State.

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’s first two losses against Penn State were by a combined seven points, against a team ranked 14th in 1995 and 7th in 1996. One of the first wins that put Saban on the proverbial coaching map was his Spartans 49-14 slashing of then-number four 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.

ALABAMA 30-1 UNDER SABAN WHEN LEADING AT THE HALF: The Crimson Tide is 30-1 when leading at halftime under head coach Nick Saban, including a 23-game winning streak. The only loss came against LSU in 2007 when UA held a 20-17 halftime lead before losing, 41-34, on Nov. 3, 2007, at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Crimson Tide is 2-5 under Saban when trailing at halftime and 2-2 when tied at halftime. The two wins when trailing at the half came in a 34-24 win over No. 7 Virginia Tech on Sept. 5 in Atlanta and a 24-15 victory over No. 9 LSU on Nov. 7. Alabama’s two wins when tied at halftime came at LSU (Nov. 8, 2008) with a 27-21 victory and at Auburn with a 26-21 win on Nov. 27, 2009.

NEW HIRES: The Alabama football staff features a new face in 2010 with the promotion of Jeremy Pruitt to assistant coach of the secondary. Pruitt joined the Alabama staff as Director of Player Development in 2007 after a successful stint as an assistant coach at Alabama high school powerhouse, Hoover. At Hoover, he served for three seasons as defensive backs coach with the final two as the defensive coordinator. He tutored a defense that helped the Bucs reach the Class 6A State Championship in 2004, 2005 and 2006, winning titles in 2004 and 2005. Pruitt served as an assistant coach under his father, Dale Pruitt, at Fort Payne High School from 2001-03.

TOP AIDES: Alabama’s coaching staff has a wealth of knowledge across all levels of football. The nine-man Crimson Tide staff features a former head coaches at the Bowl Subdivision level in Bobby Williams (Michigan State). The staff also has six coaches that have spent time as assistant coaches in the NFL in Bo Davis (Dolphins), Jim McElwain (Raiders), Joe Pendry (19 years with multiple teams), Kirby Smart (Dolphins), Sal Sunseri (Panthers) and Bobby Williams (Lions and Dolphins). Alabama’s coaching staff boasts 40-plus years of combined NFL coaching experience.

NFL DRAFT: The Crimson Tide saw seven players selected in the 2010 NFL Draft, including first-round picks Rolando McClain (eighth overall to the Oakland Raiders) and Kareem Jackson (20th overall to the Houston Texans). Alabama also had two more second-round picks in cornerback Javier Arenas (Kansas City Chiefs) and nose guard Terrence Cody (Baltimore Ravens). Offensive guard Mike Johnson went in the third round to the Atlanta Falcons while cornerback Marquis Johnson (St. Louis Rams) and Brandon Deaderick (New England Patriots) were taken in the seventh round. The Tide had eight more players sign free agent contracts, including Colin Peek (Atlanta), Eryk Anders (Cleveland), Lorenzo Washington (Dallas), Justin Woodall (Chicago), Cory Reamer (New York Jets), Leigh Tiffin (Cleveland) and P.J. Fitzgerald (New Orleans).

CRIMSON TIDE PLAYERS ON NFL ROSTERS: The Alabama football program was well represented in the NFL during the 2010 season with former players and coaches dotting league rosters. The Tide has 39 former players and coaches working in the NFL this season. Roman Harper is the only Alabama player on the defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints. The Crimson Tide has 28 current NFL players. There are 13 former UA players and/or coaches serving as assistant coaches in the NFL this season, including Sylvester Croom (St. Louis), Freddie Kitchens (Arizona) and Richard Williamson (Carolina).

2010 NFL Rosters
Player Pos. Team
Mark Anderson DE Chicago Bears
Javier Arenas DB Kansas City Cheifs
Anthony Bryant DB Washington Redskins
Antoine Caldwell C Houston Texans
Tim Castille RB Kansas City Cheifs
Terrence Cody DT Baltimore Ravens
Brodie Croyle QB Kansas City Chiefs
Kenneth Darby RB St. Louis Rams
Brandon Deaderick DE New England Patriots
Wallace Gilberry DL Kansas City Chiefs
Roman Harper DB New Orleans Saints
Kareem Jackson DB Houston Texans
Jarret Johnson LB Baltimore Ravens
Mike Johnson OL Atlanta Falcons
Rashad Johnson DB Arizona Cardinals
Anthony Madison DB Pittsburgh Steelers
Evan Mathis OL Cincinnati Bengals
LeRon McClain FB Baltimore Ravens
Rolando McClain LB Oakland Raiders
Antwan Odom DL Cincinnati Bengals
Charlie Peprah DB Green Bay Packers
DeMeco Ryans LB Houston Texans
Justin Smiley OL Jacksonville Jaguars
Andre Smith OL Cincinnati Bengals
Deshea Townsend DB Indianapolis Colts
John Parker Wilson QB Atlanta Falcons

NFL Coaches:
Coach Team
Bruce Arians Pittsburgh Steelers
Sylvester Croom St. Louis Rams
Jeff Fitzgerald Cincinnati Bengals
Amos Jones Pittsburgh Steelers
Larry Kirksey Houston Texans
Freddie Kitchens Arizona Cardinals
John Mitchell Pittsburgh Steelers
Rip Scherer Carolina Panthers
Rory Segrest Philadelphia Eagles
Mike Shula Jacksonville Jaguars
Mike Solari Seattle Seahawks
Ricky Thomas Indianapolis Colts
Richard Williamson Carolina Panthers

ALABAMA’S TV RECORD: Alabama has compiled a 190-115-5 (.621) all-time record in 310 televised games. This does not include pay-per-view, tape-delayed or closed circuit telecasts. The Crimson Tide owns a 164-96-3 (.629) record in 263 regular-season televised games.

OVERTIME RECORD: Alabama is 4-7 (.364) all-time in overtime games. In its last overtime game, the Crimson Tide defeated LSU 27-21 at Tiger Stadium on Nov. 8, 2008. Alabama has lost six of its last nine overtime games. The Crimson Tide is 4-6 (.400) in overtime games against SEC teams. Alabama is 2-4 (.333) in overtime home games. The Crimson Tide is 3-4 (.429) in single-overtime games.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: Coach Saban also spent a little time behind the camera during the offseason. He flew out to Los Angeles to film an ESPN College GameDay commercial with Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Fowler. Saban was also the center of a feature film, Nick Saban: Gamechanger, which was released in theaters in August.

NICK’S KIDS: At Michigan State, head coach Nick Saban and his wife Terry started the “Nick’s Kids” Foundation, which the Sabans have continued in Tuscaloosa. Since their arrival at the University of Alabama, the Sabans have helped raise over $1.5 million – including over $450,000 this year – for “Nick’s Kids” and made a total of more than 140 donations to children’s charities throughout the state of Alabama.

FRESHMAN ACADEMICS: Alabama’s 2009 freshman class did more than just excel on the football field, the Crimson Tide placed 12 rookies on the 2010 SEC Freshman Academic Honor Roll, by far the highest total in the SEC — double the second-place team. Mississippi State was second with six while Mississippi had five and Kentucky had four. The Crimson Tide’s 12 honorees equaled the total number of Arkansas (3), Tennessee (3), Florida (2), Georgia (2), Auburn (1), Vanderbilt (1) and LSU (0) combined. Alabama freshmen that made the list include: Kenny Bell, Chris Bonds, D.J. Fluker, Nico Johnson, Kendall Kelly, Eddie Lacy, A.J. McCarron, William Ming, Kevin Norwood, Trent Richardson, Chance Warmack and Kellen Williams.