I don't know if Nick Saban and Joe Paterno have any kind of relationship beyond the professional relationship most coaches have. If they do, I'd imagine that they're pretty friendly. That's the best way I can explain what went on in this game.
Alabama asserted its superiority emphatically early on, as Trent Richardson carved up the Penn State defense with ease. The Alabama defense at times seemed to just toy with Nittany Lion QB Robert Bolden, who seemed fairly composed despite completing 45% of his passes and tossing a pair of interceptions. You knew by the end of the first half that Alabama was winning, and it sounded like JoePa did too in his halftime interview.
The Lions kept scrapping, but Alabama never relented. The Tide also never really pulled away though, scoring only a single touchdown in the second half. It was the perfect kind of win for Saban: it was never in doubt, but it revealed plenty of things his team needs to improve upon. It was not an A+ game by any stretch.
It was more than enough though, and Bama has passed its toughest non-conference test of the season.