This season, pick who you think will win the Capital One Bowl Game of the Week and WIN! Answer the question on the Capital One Bowl Facebook page before Saturday’s game. If you pick correctly, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win two tickets to the Capital One Bowl on January 2, 2012!
Penn State leads series 9-5 (last meeting: Sept. 11, 2010: Alabama 24, Penn State 3)
The No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide travel to State College, Pa., to take on the No. 25 Nittany Lions of Penn State in an SEC-Big Ten showdown. Both teams posted overwhelming victories as they kicked off the 2011 season and they meet in the only contest between ranked teams this weekend. The Crimson Tide enters Happy Valley for the first time in over 20 years and faces a whiteout stadium at one of the greatest college football venues, Beaver Stadium.
With a veteran defensive unit anchoring Alabama’s national championship hype, the Tide’s biggest challenges in 2011 will be replacing key offensive stars. Junior Trent Richardson steps into the featured back role after spending the past two years splitting time with former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram. They appear to have an heir apparent to Ingram’s fellow first-round NFL draft choice Julio Jones in redshirt senior Marquis Maze at wide receiver. After spending most of his career in a complementary role,Maze exploded in the season opener against Kent State, catching eight passes for 118 yards and a touchdown. Heralded junior college transfer Duron Carter (son of NFL great Cris) will also join the Alabama receiving corps this week. Despite reloading talent in the skill positions, the Crimson Tide still lack a defined replacement for quarterback Greg McElroy. Redshirt sophomore AJ McCarron and redshirt freshman Philip Sims had been listed as co-starters throughout camp and they combined to go 21-of-37 for 299 yards against the Golden Flashes. However, each player threw a pair of interceptions and the position remains up for grabs.
Penn State is no stranger to rotating quarterbacks themselves. Junior Matt McGloin took over the starting job from sophomore Rob Bolden at the end of last year, but after being named the first true freshman to start a season opener for Joe Paterno last season, Bolden returned under center last week against Indiana State. He and McGloin are expected to compete for the position again this season. Penn State’s squad has some young players, but the Nittany Lions want to see continued success from senior wide receiver Derek Moye, who posted 885 receiving yards and eight touchdowns last season. Sophomore running back Silas Redd will replace the team’s all-time leading rusher Evan Royster this year. In last week’s game against Indiana State,Redd displayed a strong running game after rushing 12 times for 104 yards and two touchdowns.
Extra points: Penn State head coach Joe Paterno has led the Lions in every matchup against the Crimson Tide, including a Sugar Bowl contest against Paul “Bear” Bryant in 1975. Paterno has faced nine Alabama coaches in his 35-year tenure.