(Saturday, September 11th)
Final Score: (1) Alabama 24, (18) Penn State 3
Tuscaloosa, AL (Sports Network) - Greg McElroy threw two touchdown passes and Trent Richardson rushed for a career-high 144 yards and a score as No. 1 Alabama took care of 18th-ranked Penn State, 24-3, in a clash of legendary programs at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
McElroy was an efficient 16-of-24 passing for 229 yards while Richardson added an additional 46 yards on four catches for the Crimson Tide (2-0), who hung 409 yards of offense on the Lions.
Penn State freshman quarterback Robert Bolden was picked off twice, completing 13-of-29 passes for 144 yards. Senior Evan Royster was also held in check, gaining 32 yards on nine carries as the Nittany Lions (1-1) turned it over four times -- two of those coming in the red zone in the first half.
These two powerhouse programs were meeting for the first time in 20 years. Alabama leads the overall series, 9-5.
"I'm really proud of the way our players played, the way our fans reacted in a class way to welcome a real legend like Joe Paterno and his team here. There's not very many people who've done as much for college football as Coach Paterno. They play with a lot of toughness, and I knew that it would take a real concerted effort on our part to match them physically with their toughness and discipline to execute," remarked Alabama head coach Nick Saban.
Alabama set the tone with a score on its second drive, moving 68 yards in just five plays. A 21-yard completion to Julio Jones on the first play moved the ball into Penn State territory and subsequent gains of 14 and eight on passes to Darius Hanks and Marquis Maze set the ball up at the 26.
A holding call set the Tide back 10 yards, but McElroy found Kevin Norwood for a 36-yard touchdown on the next play.
The Nittany Lions went three-and-out on its first series, but put together a promising drive on the ensuing possession. Royster converted an early 3rd- and-1 and a 31-yard pass up the right sideline to Derek Moye moved the chains into 'Bama territory. Penn State got as far as the 20 before Bolden unleashed a wobbly pass under pressure that was picked off by Will Lowery.
The Crimson Tide embarked on their next scoring venture from there, a nine- play, 97-yard trek that stretched into the second quarter. Richardson picked up four on 3rd-and-3 after rushing for 11, 16 and 33 yards on the first three plays of the drive. A nine-yard scamper by the sophomore brought the ball inside the red zone and McElroy hit Preston Dial for a 14-yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter to make it 14-0.
The Lions took the ball from their own 23 down to the Tide 16-yard line on the ensuing series. Bolden completed a short pass to Chaz Powell, who was stripped of the ball and Robert Lester ran it back up the right sideline before also fumbling inside the PSU 20. It was recovered by the visitors at their own two, but they had to punt shortly thereafter.
Jeremy Shelley split the uprights from 31 yards out to cap Alabama's next drive for a 17-0 advantage at the half.
Penn State started the second half with the ball and again was able to drive deep into Tide territory. Bolden converted a 4th-and-1 on a QB sneak and hit Justin Brown for 20 yards on 3rd-and-10 to get inside the 'Bama 30-yard-line. Bolden was soon faced with another third down and had a pass intercepted by Lester at the 13.
Penn State would get onto Alabama's side of the field only once more, resulting in a Collin Wagner 36-yard field goal with 9:47 to play.
"I thought they (Alabama) had a very good football team. Well coached, they out-coached us and outplayed us. I thought we played better overall in the second half. I just think we didn't play with the kind of intensity early enough in the football game that you have to have against a team as good as Alabama. We came down here knowing how good they were and we didn't wise up to it," Paterno said.
Alabama made it a 24-0 game the series before PSU's lone score, as Richardson's one-yard TD plunge finished off a methodical 12-play drive that went 71 yards and took almost 6 1/2 minutes.
Penn State gained 283 yards of offense...Moye caught three passes for 69 yards while Devon Smith led all receivers with five receptions for 47 yards in the loss...Jones topped Alabama's receiving corps with four catches for 49 yards...There were just six penalties called in the game, five on Alabama...Both sides struggled on third down, with PSU converting 5-of-14 tries while the Crimson Tide were 3-of-10...Alabama travels to take on Duke next Saturday while Penn State hosts Kent State.
09/12 00:09:32 ET