Friday, September 10, 2010

Game 2 Preview: Penn State

150px-Penn_State_Nittany_Lions_svg In a meeting of goliaths, Penn State will venture south to face the Crimson Tide Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The last time the teams met was in 1990 when Penn State beat the Tide in Tuscaloosa. Overall, the Tide leads the series 8-5, with most of the matchups coming in the 80’s and 90’s. For the Tide, their biggest game against Penn State came in the 1979 Sugar Bowl, when the two faced off for the National Championship. The then ranked #2 Tide would knock off the #1 Nittany Lions and 14-7 and take home Bear Bryant’s last championship.

Last Season, Penn State went 11-2 including a Capital One Bowl victory of the LSU Tigers. Penn State opened this season with an impressive victory over Youngstown State, beating them 44-14. The biggest headline from their first matchup was the performance of their true freshman quarterback, Rob Bolden, who went 20-29 for 239 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. For his efforts he earned Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week honors. Bolden was the first freshman to start for the Nittany Lions since 1992 and the first to do it in a season opener. The big question for Bolden is whether or not he can continue his success against a defense as good as the Crimson Tide’s. Unfortunately for Bolden, Nick Saban may be one of the best defensive minds there is and will have some never before seen looks to give him.

Helping Bolden in the backfield is Penn State’s running back Evan Royster who now is 6th in career rushing yardage in Penn State history. While he was limited last week, he still will demand the defense’s attention when lined up in the backfield. On the outside for the Nittany Lions is senior co-captain Brett Brackett, who caught both of Bolden’s touchdown passes last weekend and almost 100 yards receiving. Even with its skill position players, the Penn State offensive line will have a lot of work to do against the defensive front of Alabama. Their success will depend on how well the line protects Bolden and gives him an opportunity to make plays down the field.

The best match up of the day will be the Alabama offense vs. the Penn State defense. Much like Alabama, the Nittany Lion defense has not allowed a opposing running back to go over 100 yards in 17 straight games. The Penn State defense however will have a big test against Trent Richardson and the Alabama rushing attack. Even with Ingram out for a second game, the combination of offensive line and rushing attack  of Alabama may be the best they have seen in a while.

Overall the game may come down to the battle in the trenches. The Penn State offense will have to keep the Tide’s defense from rattling Bolden, and the Alabama defensive line will have to create that pressure without Courtney Upshaw at 100%. The Tide defense should be able to dial something up to pressure Bolden with Nick Saban and Kirby Smart calling the plays. As for the Tide’s offense, they will have to establish the run to open up Julio Jones and the other Tide receivers. When it is all said and done, Tide victory!!!

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