"It's such a complete offense," Penn State coach Joe Paterno said. "If you don't play one aspect of it, you're going to be in trouble."
Part of the multi-faceted Alabama offense, the wide receiving corps should cause the biggest mismatch for the Penn State defense, especially because the Lions secondary lacks depth, which could be a reason why Penn State ran its nickel defense -- made up of five defensive backs -- just once last week.
Former UA linebacker Lee Roy Jordan, considered one of the best in school history, believes a label may be all that separates Penn State's history of linebacking from Alabama's.
“I think Alabama is ‘Linebacker U,' but they have had some great players at Penn State. If you go back and look at our history, we've had a number extremely competitive linebackers,” Jordan said. “It's an interesting label that you might want to put on your university. We could call ours ‘Quarterback U,' I guess. Their public relations department came up with a great label to put on it, and that's OK with me. But we've certainly had our share.”
Don McNeal is a man who knows about priorities:
Former Alabama defensive back Don McNeal has split allegiances. He's one of the stars from the 1979 Sugar Bowl victory over Penn State that won a national title for the Tide, but also Bolden's great uncle.
"I'm torn between the two, but I guess I've got to go with Alabama (because) my whole family's going with my nephew," McNeal said. "You know what? I want him to do great, but I don't want him to do that great because we want to win the football game."
"Their running game is very basic, very traditional," Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower said.
"They don't really try to confuse you as much, at all really. A lot of leads, a lot of powers, a lot of zones, stretches. They pretty much just line up and play smash-mouth football."
Q: Where will Evan Royster rank among the great running backs who have played at Penn State, and will he be the one who ends Alabama's 35-game streak of holding individual runners to less than 100 yards?
A. Not where his yardage figures indicate he might and I'd seriously doubt it. Royster is not nearly so dynamic as, say, Ki-Jana Carter or Curt Warner. He picks his holes carefully, is very good at following blockers and finishes runs nicely. But he's put on a few pounds this off-season and he looks considerably slower. Considering that Penn State's OL is a work in progress, I would not at all be surprised if he finishes <50 yards.
He noted that Alabama defeated Virginia Tech in its 2009 opener and defeated "six other teams that were the caliber of Virginia Tech, or maybe better. And maybe more than that if you throw in Texas and Florida in the SEC Championship Game. ..."