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In a matchup of two of the most storied programs in college football this weekend at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL the No. 18 Penn State Nittany Lions travel to face the defending national champion and No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (7:05 pm EST Sat.) in the first real test of the 2010 season for either team.
Both teams rolled to easy wins last week at home in their openers as Penn State thrashed Youngstown State in Happy Valley 44-14 and Alabama rolled over San Jose State 48-3.Alabama comes into the game with their star running back and last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Mark Ingram, doubtful to see action after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery last week and being held out of practice this week. Coach Nick Saban said Ingram’s knee was “improving every day” and hasn’t had swelling but the Heisman winner “probably” wouldn’t be able to play. Alabama is far from short-handed when it comes to ball carriers though, as they have Trent Richardson, who had 10 carries for 66 yards and two touchdowns in only one half of action vs. San Jose St. last week, waiting in the wings. Returning Senior quarterback Greg McElroy is an excellent game manager who knows who to take care of the football, going 114 passing attempts since his last interception, and will not wilt under the pressure of a big game after leading the Tide to the national championship last season.
The Penn state offense is led by Freshman QB Robert Bolden, who had a solid debut last week against Youngstown State, going 20-29 for 239 yards and two touchdowns and one interception. They also have a Heisman hopeful of their own in running back Evan Royster, who was held to only 40 yards rushing last week. If Royster is unable to muster more production this week to take some of the pressure off the youngster Bolden, it could be a long night down in Dixie for Penn St. The key matchup in this game is the Penn St. offense vs. the Alabama defense, if the Nittany Lions can run the ball and control the clock, they can take the crowd out of the game early and neutralize Alabama’s potent offense. I they have to throw the ball early and play from behind, you will be hearing “Roll Tide” all night long.
Alabama vs Penn State Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Penn St. Nittany Lions +12
@ Alabama Crimson Tide -12
Penn State. +350
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Alabama vs Penn St. Prediction for Week 2 Saturday Evening Game:
Over/Under Prediction (Top Play) – Even with Ingram on the sidelines for this one, this has the makings of a one-sided affair. The “Tide offense will show it has grown up from last year and is ready for the rigors of an SEC season by lighting up their slower, plodding foes from Happy Valley. With nine new starters on defense, Alabama will still be able to shut down the Penn St. attack that is talented, but young. They will have to grow up quickly in order to have any hope against an Alabama defense stocked with speed and four-star recruits. The bet here is that Penn State will struggle to put points on the board and this will be a one-sided affair with the total coming in under 44 as Nick Saban, hesitant to pile it on against coaching legend Joe Paterno calls the dogs off early and keeps the total number down. PREDICTION (TOP PLAY) – Under 44.5 Points
Spread Prediction – Look for Alabama to put the Nittany Lions away early as Penn State will not be capable of stopping backup running back Trent Richardson, who might be the best running back Coach Paterno’s team sees all season. The Alabama defense will be much faster and much more athletic than what Penn St. is used to seeing in the Big 10, and the offense led by the Freshman QB Bolden, will struggle mightily under the hot lights of Bryant-Denny Stadium as he is making only his second career start. We saw how the Alabama defense could put points on the board themselves against a green quarterback in the BCS National Championship game last year, when Texas Freshman Garret Gilbert was forced into action; look for a similar result in this game as the Crimson Tide rolls covering the spread. Prediction – Alabama -12