No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) at Penn State Nittany Lions (1-0 SU, 0-1 ATS), Saturday September 10th, 2011. 3:30PM EST, College Football Week 2, Beaver Stadium University Park, P.A.
By Jay Horne, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Bama -10/PSU +10
Over/Under Total: TBA
Last week I warned the nation that Alabama just may have the best defense they have had in the Nick Saban era in Tuscaloosa. A week later and I am confirming that statement is undeniably true. The no.2 Alabama Crimson Tide destroyed Kent State last week 48-7. Sure I know the Crimson Tide were huge favorites over the inferior Kent State, but it is the way they won that really impressed me. The Alabama offense struggled at times while breaking in new quarterbacks A.J McCarron and Phillip Sims. However, the defense completed dominated on every level of the field and consistently flew around the ball. By the end of the game, Kent State had an amassed a mere 90 yards of total offense.
This week competition picks up when the Crimson Tide take their number 2 ranking to Happy Valley to battle the Penn State Nittany Lions. Penn State blew out Indiana State last week 41-7 and it is safe to say that this will be both teams first true test of the year. The Nittany Lions took the trip to Alabama last year but were dismantled 24-3. This season the Nittany Lions expect to give the Crimson Tide a much better test when the host the mighty villain from the SEC.
The Nittany Lions offense has to replace standouts QB Darryl Clark and RB Evan Royster who led the team in 2010. The quarterback that will replace Clark is an on-going battle even going into week 2 of the season. Last week both Rob Bolden and Matthew McGloin shared time behind center. McGloin appeared to be the better of the two by completing 6 of 8 passing for 77 yards. However, Bolden will still likely see some snaps if McGloin continues to go through growing pains.
At the running back position, there is a lot of hype surrounding sophomore tailback Silas Redd. Redd was solid last week rushing for 104 yards on 12 carries with 2 touchdowns. Redd will likely be a primary focus for the Penn State offense until the passing game comes around. However if the Nittany Lions can get some consistency behind center, WR Derek Moye is a proven talent on the outside. Moye led the offense with 885 yards receiving last season with 8 touchdowns in the passing game. Therefore when Penn State decides to test the Alabama secondary, expect Moye to have some passes directed his way.
On the other side of the field, the Alabama offense is a unit that is still going through some growing pains primarily at the quarterback position. However, A.J McCarron should be the starter this weekend as he played much better than his counterpart Phillip Sims last week. Both quarterbacks struggled at times, but McCarron seems to be most prepared after completing 14 of 23 passing for 226 yards with 1 touchdown and 2 picks. WR Marquis Maze will be the go to guy in the receiving game. Maze is not a big guy at 510 and 180 pounds. However, the senior wide out is extremely quick and has a knack for finding the open space against opposing defenses. Maze caught 8 passes for 118 yards and a score in last weeks win over Kent State and it is safe to say he will be the main target again this Saturday for the Alabama passing attack.
Junior running back Trent Richardson is one of the Heisman Trophy hopefuls entering 2011. This is the first season that Richardson has been the feature running back for the Alabama offense considering he split carries with former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram over the last two seasons. Richardson was excellent as a supporting cast, but struggled heavily last week against Kent State carrying the ball 13 times for just for 37 yards. Richardson did pile up 3 touchdowns, but those were mostly on short yardage situations. Coach Nick Saban loves to run the ball behind that big Alabama offensive line. Therefore, if Richardson continues to struggle this week it could really put a wrench in Alabamas offensive approach.
Jays Pick to Cover the Point Spread If I had to choose a side here I would definitely back the Crimson Tide as I feel they will be far superior to what the Nittany Lions have to offer. However, Im very curious to see the total that is released for this game. Only 27 points were scored last year and I could see the defenses allowing even less points this year. Keep an eye on the total here and consider a bet on the under as well. Good Luck!
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