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Alabama Vs. Penn State Preview: Tide Looks to Answer Questions Against Penn State

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Penn St. Nittany Lions, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

I grew up hearing from my father, a huge Bama fan, that the Tide should play Penn State every year. Part of that was because of a series of great games between the two that are memorable for fans of both teams in a certain era, and part of it is the meeting between two tradition-rich programs. But make no mistake, these two programs do not like each other. (Respect? Sure. Like? Probably not.)

But these teams walk into Happy Valley this week with expectations that could not be more different and circumstances that could not be more different. Both have unsettled quarterback situations that boil down to co-starter arrangements. Both are going to have to count on their defenses to some extent. But Alabama is projected as a national title contender, while the most that outside observers are predicting for Penn State is a nice season.

The remaining similarity between the two teams is the difficulty in getting a read on either after they stomped their first week cupcakes. But there were also chinks, not least of which were four interceptions by Alabama, and the paltry 114 yards through the air for the Lions You've got to figure that Alabama is better -- those preseason expectations ar there for a reason -- but you just can't be sure. Maybe if they played more often we'd have a better idea.

Alabama 21, Penn State 10