September 10, 2010

LBU Staff Predictions: Penn State at Alabama

Penn State will take the field tomorrow night in Tuscaloosa, for a matchup that's getting an awful lot of hype, considering no one is predicting Penn State to come within two touchdowns of the Crimson Tide. Still, we give our thoughts on the game, with a little score prediction action.

Evan Royster [2]
Can Evan Royster lead Penn State to a win at No. 1 Alabama?

Full Game Preview


I’m not going in to this one with a lot of hope. You’re talking about the returning national champs against a very young Penn State team. While Alabama lost a lot of talent on the defensive side they still have a lot of talent to replace them. Their offense took a hit when Heisman winner Mark Ingram went down but backup Trent Richardson will do just fine and Eddie Lacy had an excellent day last Saturday. The PSU defense will have its hands full. The good news for us Penn State fans is special teams. Alabama is breaking in all new starters at Punter, Kicker, and they lose their best return man. So if Penn State has an advantage it’s here. The Nittany Lions looked stellar in the special teams department last weekend and JoePa has always stressed special teams. Penn State will have to have a great day from Royster and hope the offensive line can hold their own. But I’m not too optimistic; I’ll say Alabama wins by 10.

Tide-27 PSU-17


I went into this entire week trying to tamp down any hint of optimism. You couldn't turn on ESPN or CBS or even the Big Ten Network for more than five minutes without Penn State's impending doom being shoved in your face. No one, and I mean NO ONE is picking Penn State to win this game. And for that very reason, I'm picking Penn State to win this game. Ready to look like a complete fool when Alabama beats the Nittany Lions, I'm also ready to look like a genius when Penn State beats the Crimson Tide.

All week, I've been hearing about Penn State's supposedly "shaky secondary" and how Rob Bolden is a dead man walking into Bryant-Denny Stadium. Anyone bashing the PSU secondary obviously didn't actually watch last week's game, or is just too stupid to understand the drastic differences between the Youngstown State offensive scheme (west-coast spread) and Alabama's (pro-run play-action), how you can't compare the two in any real sense. You see, that's very funny when you think abou it, because those are the same folks who have been also saying, in the very same breath, how Bolden did so well last week, "but keep in mind, that was against Youngstown State."

Penn State's defense forces Greg McElroy to play faster than he wants to, while the Lions' special teams finally plays a little less, umm, "special" than usual in big games. If there is one game this season ripe for Penn State to pull a massive upset, this is it.

Alabama 23, Penn State 27

Remember those glowing practice reports you were hearing about Bolden before the season? Now we're going to see how true they were as I fully expect the offense to come out throwing and try to catch Bama by surprise early. Royster's been carrying a chip on his shoulder this week and some poor tacklers will get the brunt of his frustrations, Green and Redd will also gash for some good runs. Defensively, I have
no idea what we're going to see, I mean I know what we'll see scheme-wise, but since Youngstown State played within 8yds of the line-of-scrimmage, I have no real clue what the backs are capable of downfield. There will be one terrible defensive lapse. The closer the game gets the more optimistic I feel, so Bama winning in a blowout is how you should bet. I'm saying Bolden learned Mandarin and a couple trick plays pretty well this week, but...

Alabama 27, Penn State 20


Oh the game we've all been waiting years for. It's been a while since Penn State faced off against a quality out of conference opponent. And they are getting all they can handle, and then some this week with the top ranked Alabama Crimson Tide. I have a hunch that if Tim Curley new that the team would feature a freshman quarterback this season, he would have held off on putting Alabama on the schedule.

But nonetheless PSU heads to Tuscaloosa as 11 point underdogs after downing Youngstown State 44-14 last week. A lot of people are expecting the Lions to lose by that score this Saturday, but I'm not one of them. The defense is going to keep the Nittany Lions in this game. Save one slip by Nate Stupar that allowed Dominique Barnes to break an 80 yard touchdown last week, and Tom Bradley's defense was pretty perfect. This defense should keep the Alabama offense in check, and hold them to under 20 points.

The PSU offense? That is another story. Royster was only able ot muster 40 yards against a mediocre FCS school. No one in their right mind can expect anything more against this defense, with or without Marcell Dareus. A freshman quarterback playing his first ever road game at Bryant Denny Stadium? Can't go well. PSU scores once, thanks to their revamped special teams providing good field position.

Alabama 17, Penn State 7


The fact that JoePa is comparing this Alabama team to the 1986 Miami Hurricanes squad is saying something. Conventional wisdom says we're likely to get blown out due to the fact that we've got a true freshman QB making his first road start in one of the most raucous of environments behind a green O-line that had blocking issues against Youngstown State. Not to mention, the defense will face a juggernaut of an Alabama offense that shouldn't skip a beat despite its Heisman-winning tailback being out.

Like any underdog facing a daunting road task, the keys to pulling off the improbable victory are obvious: Don't make mistakes, force a few turnovers to create a short field for the offense to work with, and come up big on special teams. With actual kick/punt returners, and the bionic legs of Anthony Fera and Colin Wagner on our side, I have no doubt we can win the special teams battle. The other two aforementioned keys to the game, I'm not so sure about. It's all going to depend on whether Greg McElroy can get pressured enough by our D-line so that he doesn't have time to carve us up Mark Sanchez in the 2009 Rose Bowl style. Until I see it myself, I'm not so sure we'll be able to do so. Rob Bolden will likely get knocked around too, and while I'm confident he can make a few great plays, he'll probably make a few critical mistakes as well.

I would like to be more self-deluded and pick PSU for the upset, but I'm just not seeing it. I've watched us lose way too many big road games like this one in the past to believe otherwise. I do however, believe we can keep it competitive and beat the 12-point spread.

Alabama 27, Penn State 19

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  1. I understand that the country is expecting to blow us out of the water, and than Alabama is apparently the Saints of the NCAA, but that doesn't mean that we all should lose hope. I'm sick and tired of everyone around campus having such negative thoughts towards this game, as if we never even had the chance. Where is the PSU spirit? I know the odds are against us, but we need to believe in the one stat that sportscenter can't measure: heart. Our team has more heart than many of the top 25 teams by far. And if we do win this game, I will be blowing up the internet calling out all of the so-called PSU fans that never even thought we had a chance. (I still love the website thou lol)

  2. Don't blame me, I bit the bullet and picked PSU this week...

  3. Hey, I came the closest on the Alabama score pick... but not exactly in the ball park on everything else. LOL