With 19 or the 22 starters being upper classmen, The Penn State roster is loaded in experience. The two offensive under classmen are Rob Bolden and Silas Redd, whom both played against Alabama last season. That gametime exposure will be invaluable come Saturday, especially with this group being battletested having gone down to Tuscaloosa and having played in that hostile environment. The SEC speed will not be as overwhelming to Bolden on his supporting cast this time around, so the Penn State offense should be able to protect the ball more so than they did in Alabama.
Another main factor that should play into the hands of Penn State on Saturday is Alabama’s inexperience at quarterback. Anyone who plays quarterback for the Crimson Tide is certainly highly talented, but A.J. McCarron comes into this game in a similar situation as Rob Bolden did last year. He has just one career start under his belt, with it being against a weak Kent State team whom he struggled against throwing two interceptions. Coming into Beaver Stadium is not an easy task for any quarterback, let alone making your first road start there. I expect for McCarron to be rattled early and often by the overwhelming environment that is Beaver Stadium.
As I already alluded to in my previous points, the energy and electricity in Beaver Stadium on Saturday will be what fuels this Nittany Lion team. Penn State is 7-3 in the top ten attendances of Beaver Stadium, including a 40-7 beatdown of Nebraska back in September of 2002 in which the all-time attendance record of 110,753 was set. Saturday’s game against Alabama has a very similar feel to it, and the turnout against the Crimson Tide could end up being a new record mark.
This game will in all likelihood be extremely conservative in nature, with victory going to whoever can establish a successful running game. When the passing games do eventually get opened up Penn State should have the advantage this time around with Rob Bolden having the edge over newcomer A.J. McCarron. That was certainly not the case last time around when the Nittany Lion defense was picked apart by former BCS Champion and Rhodes Scholar Greg McElroy. If the Crimson Tide roll all over the Nittany Lion defense on Saturday not only will be it be a long day for the Penn State fans, but in all likelihood it would signal a long season as well.