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Alabama Crimson Tide at Penn State Nittany Lions (+10, 42)
THE STORY: When No. 2 Alabama travels to No. 20 Penn State on Saturday, it won’t be just a matchup of ranked teams and two of college football’s most storied programs. It will be the continuation of quarterback auditions at both schools. Alabama used sophomore AJ McCarron and freshman Phillip Sims in last week’s 48-7 season-opening victory over Kent State. McCarron passed for 226 yards and a touchdown against the Golden Flashes, but threw two interceptions. Sims also was picked off twice, passing for 73 yards. Both are expected to play this week.
Penn State, which opened the season with a 41-7 rout of Indiana State, also deployed two quarterbacks in its opener. Sophomore Rob Bolden started, passing for 37 yards. Senior Matt McGloin passed for 77 yards. Both are expected to play this week. Neither threw a touchdown in the opener as the Nittany Lions relied on a ground game that piled up 245 yards.
Alabama leads the all-time series 9-5. Before last season’s 24-3 Alabama victory in Tuscaloosa, the two teams had not met since 1990.
TV: ABC 3:30 p.m. ET
LINE MOVES: Most books opened with Alabama as a 10.5-point road favorite. The spread has dropped to -10 in favor of the Crimson Tide as of Friday afternoon. The total opened as high as 43.5 points but has since been bet down to 42.
ABOUT ALABAMA (1-0): With former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram now in the NFL, Trent Richardson has become the focal point of the Crimson Tide running game. The junior rushed for three touchdowns against the Golden Flashes. Against Penn State last season, Richardson rushed for 144 yards and a touchdown as Ingram sat with a knee injury. Freshman linebacker Trey Depriest won SEC Co-Freshman of the Week honors, leading the Crimson Tide with 10 tackles against Kent State.
ABOUT PENN STATE (1-0): Like Alabama, the Nittany Lions have a new leader at running back. Sophomore Silas Redd scored two touchdowns and rushed for 104 yards against Indiana State. Redd figures to face a much stiffer challenge this week: Alabama leads the nation in rushing defense after holding Kent State to minus-9 yards.
1. Penn State head coach Joe Paterno, 84, has been a part of all 14 previous Penn State-Alabama games, dating back to the first meeting in the 1959 Liberty Bowl, when Paterno was an assistant coach.
2. 532 – The combined win total for Paterno (402) and Alabama head coach Nick Saban (130).
3. Paterno, who coached from the press box last week, said chances are good he’ll be on the sidelines Saturday.
WEATHER: Thundershowers could take the happy out of Happy Valley. The forecast is calling for a 40 percent chance of rain.
- Crimson Tide are 7-0 ATS in their last seven non-conference games.
- Nittany Lions are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games as home underdogs.
- Over is 8-1-1 in Crimson Tide last 10 non-conference games.
- Under is 7-1 in Nittany Lions last eight non-conference games.