Alabama, one of the favorites to win the SEC this year, had absolutely no trouble winning its season opener last week, as the Kent State Golden Flashes put up very little resistance in a 48-7 final. It was the 10th straight win for 'Bama in a season lidlifter, and served as a tune-up for what many hope will be a competitive contest this weekend.
This is Alabama's first visit to Penn State since 1989, a game which ended 17-16 in favor of the Tide. Overall, 'Bama a 9-5 series advantage and the two teams met in Tuscaloosa last season with coach Nick Saban's club getting the win en route to a 10-3 overall mark.
Likewise, Penn State had an easy time of it in last Saturday's season opener, as the Nittany Lions feasted on FCS foe Indiana State, 41-7. It was also the 10th consecutive season-opening win for PSU, which is playing its 125th season of college football this year.
Penn State is coached of course by the legendary Joe Paterno, who is in his 46th year at the helm, and his teams have made 43 bowl appearances and won 27 of them. Penn State has a 23-game home non-conference winning streak.
Alabama and Penn State are two of only eight FBS teams to have 800 wins in their history.
Trent Richardson ran for three TDs and A.J. McCarron threw for 226 yards with a score, as Alabama opened the 2011 season with a 41-point victory over visiting Kent State. Richardson ran for just 37 yards on 13 carries, while Eddie Lacy chipped in 58 yards on eight attempts. Lacy also had three catches for 76 yards as the Tide rolled up 482 yards of total offense. Marquis Maze logged eight grabs for 118 yards with a TD and added 135 return yards for the Crimson Tide, who picked up 24 first downs to just six for Kent State. The one sore spot for coach Saban's offense was the fact that between McCarron and Phillip Sims, they threw four INTs.
While obviously pleased with the outcome, Saban knows there is room for improvement, "Offensively, at times we played well, but we had four interceptions, and the ball was on the ground four more times. We lost one of those, but turnovers are critical. We've got to do a much better job of taking care of the ball. We need more explosive players on offense."
The Tide allowed very little on defense, as the Golden Flashes were limited to 99 passing yards and minus-9 yards rushing. Kent State was a horrendous 4- of-20 on third-down conversions attempts, and the 'Bama defensive unit was credited with four sacks as part of seven TFL. Freshman LB Trey Depriest led the UA stand with 10 tackles, while fellow LBs Donta Hightower and Courtney Upshaw finished with seven apiece.
Chaz Powell returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for a TD, helping the Nittany Lions begin the 2011 season in grand style as they hammered Indiana State last Saturday. RB Silas Redd ran for 104 yards and two scores, while the QB tandem of Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin combined to go 12-of-18 for 114 yards. Overall, Penn State piled up 359 yards of total offense, and earned 21 first downs. It wasn't all good for the Lions however, as they converted just 2-of-10 third-down tries, and the QBs were sacked three times.
The two-QB system is likely to continue for Penn State, and McGloin was asked after the opener about his thoughts, "Just got to take it one day at a time I guess. Whatever the coaches say I'll agree with, but I think, performance, how I played today, I think it speaks for itself. I said I want to be in there, I want to get the job, especially next weekend for 'Bama but, like I said, take it one day at a time, whatever the coaches decide, I will go with.
Despite facing an inferior opponent, the PSU defense was impressive as it limited the Sycamores to just eight first downs, 170 total yards, all while coming up with two sacks, two INTs and a fumble recovery. Redshirt freshman LB Mike Hull led the Lions with seven tackles, and the two picks were collected by Adrian Amos, a true freshman, and Drew Astorino -- the two combining for 79 return yards.