TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Barrett Jones was 5 months, 2 days old the last time Alabama and Penn State played.
He doesn't remember the game, but the top-ranked Crimson Tide's guard has become fairly well versed on a rivalry that has featured memorable kicks, great defenses and a goal line stand that is a significant part of 'Bama lore.
"I can't speak for everybody on the team, but I really feel like I appreciate the history of the game," said Jones, born on May 25, 1990. "I feel like this is really something special. You go into an old Alabama restaurant — which there are many of them across the state — and you see old games playing. And a lot of times you see Alabama-Penn State, and it's great to be a part of that rivalry.
"Maybe one day they'll be showing our Alabama-Penn State (game) on the TVs."
Saturday night's showdown will be televised.
The Tide and 18th-ranked Nittany Lions face off at Bryant-Denny Stadium in their first meeting since 1990, renewing a rivalry that has produced some classic moments and monumental games.
Jones knows about the biggest of them all. "The goal line stand in '79."
In a battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2, Alabama's Barry Krauss upended running back Mike Guman at the goal line to preserve the Tide's 14-7 win in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 1979. It gave second-ranked 'Bama a national title.
Defensive back Don McNeal had knocked Scott Fitzkee out of bounds about a foot from the goal line on the second-and-goal play before that.
"Can I ever forget it? I don't want to ever forget it, I really don't," said McNeal, a great uncle of current Penn State quarterback Rob Bolden. "I had covered my guy in the end zone on that play, I saw he made the throw and just reacted. I hit him and took him out of bounds. My roommate Curtis McGriff said, 'Don, that's one heck of a play you just made.' I didn't realize that. I was just playing football."
Krauss was the one immortalized. Penn State assistant athletic director Fran Ganter, running backs coach for that '79 team, knows that from his last Tuscaloosa trip.
"We went into the building, and the first thing we saw was a mural of Barry Krauss stopping Mike Guman," Ganter recalls.
Much has changed in the two decades since the teams last met, when Penn State's defense dominated the game. The Nittany Lions picked off five passes and recovered a fumble in a 9-0 win in 1990. Alabama managed just 6 yards rushing, nearly 200 below its season average.
Paterno recalls Alabama agreeing to play a home-and-home series, something other Southeastern Conference teams were reluctant to do.
"It's a great experience to take a bunch of kids down to the stadium such as the one we're going to play in with that many people and the kind of enthusiasm," he said. "And they'll learn from it. They'll be better, they'll remember."
The two teams played eight times in the 1980s, producing a bounty of memories.
If the '79 Sugar Bowl is the biggest one for Alabama fans, there are a few more pleasing to the Nittany Lions (though the Tide leads the series 8-5).
—Oct. 12, 1985. National title contender Penn State set up Matt Knizner's 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brian Siverling with Michael Timpson's 29-yard reverse. Eventual Tide coach Mike Shula threw for a 14-yard score to Thornton Chandler with 14 seconds left, but the onside kick failed. Penn State 19-17.
—Oct. 8, 1983. Alabama quarterback Walter Lewis' pass to Preston Gothard in the end zone was ruled out of bounds in Penn State's 34-28 win. The Nittany Lions then stopped Kerry Goode short from the 2 as time expired.
Happier memories for the Tide:
—Oct. 13, 1984: Van Tiffin's 53-yard field goal set a then-school record in a 6-0 Alabama win. Penn State missed two first-half kicks, then couldn't cross Alabama's 45.
—Oct. 28, 1989. Defensive lineman Thomas Rayam blocked Ray Tarasi's last-second 17-yard field goal attempt after a high snap. Alabama wins 17-16.
The average score of the first 13 meetings was appropriate for two programs known for defense: Alabama 12.4, Penn State 11.8.
All that history is ancient for the current players on both sides.
"I'm sure to our fans it probably means something," Tide coach Nick Saban said. "To most of our players, I think they have a tremendous amount of respect for Penn State based on the great program that they've had in their lifetime, whether they've played Alabama or not. I really don't think it means a lot to the players, and it's not something that we emphasize with the players.
"We're looking forward, not in the rear-view mirror."
Penn State guard Stefen Wisniewski knows more than most of his teammates about the history with Alabama. His father, Leo, played for the Nittany Lions from 1979-81.
"I think most people my age probably don't appreciate the whole Bear Bryant-JoePa thing as much," the younger Wisniewski said. "Personally I have a little more of an appreciation for it because of my father's connection to the program. My dad played in the '79 Sugar Bowl and played against Alabama, so I have a little bit a sense of the history, and how cool of a rivalry this is."
Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower is only vaguely familiar with the stand in the '79 game, but he can picture making a game-saving stop like Krauss.
"I'd be speechless," Hightower said. "You got a vision going in my head. I don't even know how to explain that feeling. That would be something that'd go down in history."
AP Sports Writer Genaro C. Armas in State College, Pa., contributed to this report.