STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 10: The Alabama Crimson Tide kicks off to the Penn State Nittany Lions during the second half at Beaver Stadium on September 10, 2011 in State College, Pennsylvania. Alabama defeated Penn State 27-11. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
With the sun shining in Happy Valley for the first time in over a week, Penn State fans made their way over the flooded rivers and roads of Pennsylvania to celebrate another chapter in the Penn State-Alabama rivalry. The celebration was short lived however as the Tide made quick work of a Nittany Lion team that struggled to find consistency on offense and was worn down on defense.
For any Penn State fan the story was one that has been told before. A strong defensive showing and a sputtering offense that failed to find the endzone. It's that sort of performance that has helped Penn State on their way to a 1-8 record against Top 12 ranked opponents since 2006.
Coincidentally Penn State followed the storyline perfectly. A well-called first possession led the Nittany Lions down the field for a field goal. Despite using all three timeouts, Penn State seemed prepared make a game out of it. A defensive stand on Alabama's first possession had the Nittany Lions in position to extend their lead.
But it was not to be. Alabama's defensive front prevented Silas Redd from ever finding his footing, and the Nittany Lion receivers dropped passes to the tune of a double digit total. Turnovers at critical points in the game also killed what little momentum Penn State was able to put together.
Undoubtedly, the most frustrating aspect of this loss for Nittany Lion fans was not the predictable play-calling or surgical dissection of Penn State's zone coverage, but the uninspired, and seemingly unplanned attack that the coaching staff had heading into this game. Penn State abandoned the running game, which was mostly a product of the score, and continued to use a revolving door of quarterbacks. A strategy that Galen Hall later admitted was pre-planned arrangement that had no bearing on the players individual performance.
In the end, Penn State's poor performance on the field does not take away from the fact that Alabama was a vastly superior team. While the Alabama faithful will say, and rightly so, that the Tide are far from where they'll need to be to win the SEC, they managed to beat Penn State with a rather straight forward offense. Easy passes in the zone, runs up the middle with Trent Richardson, and a strong defensive gameplan. It was a simple, defined, and well executed gameplan that took Penn State apart.
For Penn State, they will need to regroup before heading on the road for the first time this season to take on a talented Temple Owls squad.