McCarron didn't turn the ball over and made more than enough throws early on to build a cushion Penn State had no chance to overcome. From there, it was up to the thunder-and-thunder tailback combo of Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy to bring the hammer, and once you get to that point, resistance is futile.
It was a dramatic setting. It was a frenzied audience. It was a familiar result. For a second straight season, the University of Alabama used superior strength and precise execution to handle Penn State, overcoming a few minutes of first-quarter Nittany emotion with inexorable force and a near-flawless performance from quarterback AJ McCarron in a 27-11 win.
While the Alabama faithful will say, and rightly so, that the Tide are far from where they'll need to be to win the SEC, they managed to beat Penn State with a rather straight forward offense. Easy passes in the zone, runs up the middle with Trent Richardson, and a strong defensive gameplan. It was a simple, defined, and well executed gameplan that took Penn State apart.
Simple. Solid. Classic. That's the way Penn State plays football games, and that's the way Alabama wins football games, and when Alabama doesn't play that way, even during the final minutes of a thorough victory that's already decided, someone on the sideline is likely to have a meltdown.
Alabama is better than Penn State. If you took anything away from Saturday's 27-11 Crimson Tide victory, it had to be that. Alabama was better on offense. Better on defense. Better on special teams. And the Tide dominated the game. It helped, of course, that Penn State is an offensive train wreck.
At a place where college football's clock has essentially stood still for the last 46 years, Alabama on Saturday again proved its recipe for success is better than most. With an inexperienced quarterback making his first start on the road, the Crimson Tide relied on their stout running game and stingy defense to dominate Penn State 27-11
These are two of only eight FBS programs that have won more than 800 games, and their respect for each other seems to trickle down to the most obnoxious fan. But Saturday's game showed they are in much different places right now. Penn State hopes to contend in the Big Ten. Alabama expects to contend for the national title.
Funny thing about a whiteout, it sure makes the crimson stand out. Third-ranked Alabama wore down No 23 Penn State 27-11 in a game that didn’t look that close.
Nick Saban cautioned his players in his pregame speech that they would be tested at times during Saturday’s game against Penn State. His defense just wasn’t sure their test would come on the game’s opening series.
The Crimson Tide proved to be bigger, stronger, faster, and smarter. They didn't use up all their first-half timeouts on their first drive as the Nittany Lions did. They held one of Penn State's two revolving quarterbacks to just one completed pass. The 27-11 final score at Beaver Stadium felt about right.
The Alabama defense was so stifling that pretty much any lead would be safe, but when Richardson ran 13 yards to pay dirt with 6:14 left, making the score 27-3 and pushing the big back over 100 yards, PSU fans were free to head to the exits
Penn State—a 24-3 loser in Tuscaloosa last season—wanted this rematch, needed it, to prove its toughness. To Alabama. To the nation of pollsters. To itself. But this was no Rocky vs. Apollo Creed moment. It was more a simple case of a tomato can being smashed open by a faster, stronger, tougher, championship-type opponent.
In the view of Joe Paterno (and a great many other coaches, for that matter), a handful of plays can determine a game. Penn State continues to let those plays slip through its fingers, especially on defense.
The problem lately with Penn State football is, those fans keep showing up wanting to really cut loose, wanting to believe that it could be like it was in the '80s or '90s when elite brand-name teams came in here and had to fight for their lives for a win. It really hasn't been that way in a long time.
Well, here are four defining plays that swung momentum Alabama's way for good. All of them occurred on a first-quarter Tide drive after the Lions scored on 43-yard field goal by Evan Lewis at the conclusion of a 16-play, 54-yard possession. By the way, PSU had to use all three of its timeouts on the drive. Incredible.
In Saturday's 27-11 Alabama win over the Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium, it seemed like the Crimson Tide made all five of those plays. It's about the only way you could explain a Tide team whose outstanding defense, quarterback uncertainty and offensive line question marks mirrored Penn State's could go on the road and pretty much dominate the last 3 quarters of play.
Lost in the wonderful, bucolic setting of Happy Valley, the fabulous pre- and in-game entertainment at Beaver Stadium, the 100,000-plus crowds, what the folks here like to call, with considerable justification, "the greatest show in college football" and its stable conference in these turbulent times for intercollegiate athletics is this cold, hard fact: The Penn State program no longer is an elite college football program.
Look, Alabama was just better than Penn State at this point in the season and showed little evidence it won't be better at any point this season. Trent Richardson was the best player on the field and it showed, but going against a defense with Josh Chapman, Mark Barron, Robert Lester, Don'ta Hightower ... the list goes on ... is no light task for any offense, especially one without an established quarterback and an offensive line that is now one injury away from real disaster.
All About AJ
McCarron didn't put himself on any Heisman lists Saturday, but he did what he needed to allow Alabama to grind Penn State into dust over 60 minutes. Like Saban-era predecessors John Parker Wilson and Greg McElroy, McCarron is coached by McElwain to avoid swashbuckling and embrace game management. "That's what coach preaches," McCarron said. "Touchdowns. Checkdowns. You want to live to play the next down."
Perhaps the best pass McCarron threw was caught by a fan in the first row of the grandstand, behind the Penn State bench. Nobody was open. He rolled outside the pocket and threw the ball far away... Former starting quarterback Greg McElroy taught him that.
Nick Saban certainly wouldn't say that the redshirt sophomore is his No. 1 after the second week of the season. Why would he? There are (at least) 10 games to play and redshirt freshman Phillip Sims, who shared time last week, is a talented backup. It wasn't one of those rocket-armed, secondary-splitting spectaculars because Saban will seldom get that from his quarterbacks. But he loves game managers more than a practice closed to the media. They're solid and reliable. McCarron is getting there.
Well, that didn't take long. The Crimson Tide's quarterback competition that stretched throughout the preseason and into the home opener against Kent State last week seemed all but decided Saturday afternoon in Happy Valley.
The always-cryptic Saban wouldn’t say after the game who his starting quarterback is, but McCarron settled the quarterback "controversy" between himself and redshirt freshman Phillip Sims, who didn't play. "He did a good job today," Saban said of McCarron.
Saban settled on a quarterback, even though he didn't exactly proclaim it from the top of Mount Nittany. "We still have a competition at the position," Saban said about sophomore AJ McCarron and redshirt freshman Philip Sims. "We really feel we have two really good players. We want both guys to continue to develop but I though AJ did a nice job today."
McCarron, who hadn't faced reporters since the first week of August, said he didn't look at Saturday's assignment as proof he secured the job in the end. "It's not my concern," he said. "The coach makes the calls. He tells me how to play and I play."
"I’ve been playing this game so long and nothing changes," McCarron said. "You go out, do your job and let the guys around you make plays for you." But change could come soon for McCarron. The youngster may have locked himself in for now as Alabama’s starting quarterback.
The Tide's offense got its motivational slap in the face when Alabama converted a fake punt. That unit was led by a stone-cold quarterback who proved worthy of retaining the starting job. Alabama rolled out of Happy Valley with a 27-11 win against Penn State, taking its third straight from the Nittany Lions.
The No. 3 football team (2-0) came away with a 27-11 victory over the 23rd-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions (1-1) on Saturday at Beaver Stadium before a crowd of 107,846. The Crimson Tide had 359 yards of total offense, 194 rushing and 165 receiving, while the defense forced a pair of fumbles and collected one interception in the game.
Alabama trailed Penn State in the first quarter at 3-0. That was about the only point in the Crimson Tide's 27-11 win that the game wasn't firmly in their hands. Alabama spread out its scoring, getting on the board in all four quarters, and crushed Penn State with balanced offense and suffocating defense.
Joe Paterno spent Friday night telling a pep rally full of college kids that Penn State intended to "return some favors." And his team did – for about 10 minutes. But once Alabama converted a fake punt on fourth down in the first quarter, the Lions were finished.
Two touchdowns, ultimately, was all Alabama (2-0) needed to win its first game played in Happy Valley since 1989. Penn State managed just 88 of its 251 yards in the second and third quarters after early success faded and before the only touchdown came in the closing moments.
But eventually, the Tide settled down and made adjustments to account for Penn State’s unorthodox formations. Alabama gave up 59 yards of offense and the field goal to Penn State in the first quarter, but went into lock-down mode — a feature the unit has come to be known for — and allowed just 33 and 55 yards in the second and third quarters, respectively.
As Alabama cruised to its second win over Penn State n as many years (the Tide beat Penn State 24-3 in Tuscaloosa in 2010), it showed that the two-headed Penn State quarterback named Matt Bolden or Rob McGloin just didn't work.
In the first matchup between the national powers in Beaver Stadium since 1989, No. 3 Alabama downed No. 23 Penn State, 27-11. Penn State saw its 23-game home non-conference win streak, tied for second-longest in the nation, come to an end.
Alabama completed a sweep of a home-and-home series between the storied programs with a methodical and smothering performance reminiscent of last year’s 24-3 victory in Tuscaloosa. Both teams came into the second week of the season with unsettled quarterback issues. At Alabama (2-0), those appear to be settled.
But if you took a closer look at the ways the No. 23 Nittany Lions failed to move the football in their 27-11 loss to the third-ranked Crimson Tide at Beaver Stadium, you'd have to count to 11 - the number of players who didn't come together as an offense and execute the way they needed against an elite opponent.
When all was said and done, #3 Alabama (2-0) from the SEC flexed their muscle in a physical game against the Big Ten’s 23rd ranked Penn State (1-1), 27-11.
Led by a careful, efficient AJ McCarron, the Tide defeated Penn State inside Beaver Stadium 27-11. Second-ranked Alabama didn't really get style points Saturday, but it proved that if it doesn't turn the ball over and the defense plays like it did, this team is almost impossible to stop.
From the head-scratching disorganization of having to burn all three first-half timeouts on their opening drive of the game because of clock and personnel issues, to dropping numerous passes, to fumbling in key situations, the Nittany Lions once again failed to stack up against elite competition.
The Nitty Gritty Details