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Saturday, September 10, 2011
It's game day at Beaver Stadium

By Adam Rittenberg

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Greetings from Happy Valley, where No. 23 Penn State takes on No. 3 Alabama in the nation's only matchup of ranked teams.

Great atmosphere around the stadium today -- although I couldn't find the Paternoville tents -- as tailgates are in full swing. The students already are filing in, and this should be an extremely loud building today.

It's sunny and warm right now, but things could change as the afternoon moves along. Colleague Mark Schlabach and I drove through several types of weather this morning from Pittsburgh -- showers, fog, patches of sun. Alabama prepared for rain this week in practice, but I think the wet weather gives Penn State a slight edge.

We've got two very good defenses and four mostly unproven quarterbacks (Alabama's AJ McCarron and Phillip Sims, and Penn State's Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin). We've got two very good groups of linebackers and two sets of dynamic running backs. Alabama has an edge with both groups heading into this game, but Penn State's Silas Redd and Brandon Beachum can make a statement today.

Many folks are predicting a double-digit Alabama win, and they could be right. But I think Penn State proves it has a better team than last year and feeds off the big home crowd. I predicted an Alabama win, but it'll be close.

Both teams will be leaning on their defenses, and the game could be decided by a touchdown from the defense or the special teams. Penn State coach Joe Paterno will be working from the press box for the second consecutive week.

Don't go anywhere as I'll have coverage of Alabama-Penn State throughout the day.