NCAA Football Top 25 Match-Up: #3 Alabama at #23 Penn State

The top match-up featured for NCAA Football in Week 2 finds the #23-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions hosting the #3-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in a battle of two of the most storied programs in College Football, led by two of the most iconic coaching figures in the game. As Joe Paterno clashes with Nick Saban in the featured NCAA game of the week, both the Tide and the Nittany Lions will continue their search for their permanent starting quarterback, with Penn State featuring sophomore Rob Bolden and junior Matt McGloin, while Alabama will put out sophomore AJ McCarron and redshirt freshman Philip Sims. That may make for a tougher game to call as far as online sports betting is concerned, however the Alabama Crimson Tide certainly stand out as the team with the more dynamic offense provided they can stay away from the mistakes made in Week 1 (a 48-7 win at home against Kent State, but with two picks apiece for McCarron and Sims). One thing is for certain, both sides have the ability to put up big offensive numbers, as the Tide and Nittany Lions each went over 40 points in their Week 1 home wins, but the big question today is how these teams stack up when faced with opposition that ranks among the best in the nation.

Betting Lines for #23 Penn State vs. #3 Alabama:

Alabama enters the contest as a -10 point favorite at WagerWeb Sportsbook (read the review of WagerWeb Sportsbook), getting -110 odds. Penn State on the other hand is a +10 point underdog at -110 odds, while getting +305 odds on the money line (Alabama is the heavy favorite at -365 to win). Expecting a tighter defensive showing in this match-up, especially with the traditionally stout Penn State defensive unit in action and both sides giving up just one score apiece in Week 1, look for a good possibility that the 42 points on the over/under might not be reached, especially with some young QBs in the mix and a high potential for a running-based game on both sides of the ball.

Our Pick to Win:

While Penn State has always been a tough opponent at home in Happy Valley, the Alabama Crimson Tide under Nick Saban are simply at an elite level of College Football that surpasses the abilities of the Nittany Lions, whether at home or on the road. Penn State likely struggles to generate any consistent offensive attack behind their offensive line that struggled in Week 1 even against a lower division school in Indiana State, and with Alabama already likely to have a game plan for QB Rob Bolden (who was awful last year against ‘Bama in a 24-3 road loss), the Lions may find it tough to get many points on the board against a well-rounded Tide defense. The Tide rolls on through Beaver Stadium this afternoon, winning by a score of 27-13.

Players to Watch, Penn State:

Silas Redd, RB – the 5’10″ 209 lb. sophomore looks to have a breakout season this year, especially with the quarterback situation in Happy Valley up in arms. He put up 5.7 yards per carry in 2010, and started with an impressive 104 yards on 12 carries with 2 TDs in Week 1 this year. Though the sledding might be tougher against the stout ‘Bama defense, look for him to see plenty of the ball this afternoon.
Derek Moye, WR – The senior wide out figures to be the best receiving option for either McGloin or Bolden today, and should be looked to a bit more in this match-up than he was in Week 1 (4 catches for 57 yards against Indiana State). Coming off a 53-catch, 885 yard year with 8 TDs, Moye could be in line to break through the 1000 yard receiving barrier this year, provided the QB situation stabilizes soon.

Players to Watch, Alabama:

Marquis Maze, WR – Coming off an 8-catch, 118 yard performance last week while compiling a total of 253 all-purpose yards, Maze is the most prolific offensive weapon the Tide has. In his senior year, look for Maze to grab headlines as the #1 receiving option, and for him to excel today once the ‘Bama passing game opens up the Penn State defense.

AJ McCarron, QB – The Crimson Tide don’t feature the run too often, utilizing their running backs just 12 times in Week 1 against Kent State. Thus, AJ McCarron looks likely to be the focal point of the offense today, unless the Tide can break out with a big lead early on and give Philip Sims some playing time. He’ll need to cut back on the INTs (2) from Week 1, but otherwise look for McCarron to pick apart the Lions secondary with a couple of big strikes early on.

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