Sat Sep 10 06:15pm EDT
Alabama 27, Penn State 11.
At one point in the first half of ABC's broadcast, color man (and former Penn State quarterback) Todd Blackledge described Alabama's defense as "a boa constrictor," and the comparison only grew more apt as the afternoon wore on. After the Nittany Lions showed surprising signs of life on a seven-minute, 16-play drive for a field goal on the opening possession of the game, their next nine turns with the ball amounted to six punts, two fumbles, an interception and a grand total of 143 yards. By the time the coils loosened enough for the Lions' only touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, it was well past over.
Which is … pretty much exactly what everyone was expecting, and pretty much exactly what the Crimson Tide were hoping to see. The defense slowly squeezed the life out of the PSU offense, forcing quarterbacks Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin to miss on a staggering 27 of 39 passes. The offense had its own issues — it went three-and-out four times and had to punt on a couple of other occasions — but ultimately ground out nearly 200 yards rushing, put together five extended scoring drives and didn't give Penn State any glimmers of hope via turnovers. It was vintage Nick Saban, and that script still has a national championship waiting at the end if it unfolds this way every week.
In related news, we have a quarterback: After Saban steadfastly refused to name a starter and hinted that A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims would both play for the second week in a row, McCarron took every snap against the Nittany Lions and has apparently assumed his birthright in the floppy-haired line of succession. He hardly lit the stadium on fire — he averaged barely five yards per attempt and less than nine yards per attempt —but 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.