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Saturday, September 10, 2011
Alabama steady in win against Penn State

By Edward Aschoff

Alabama might not be a flashy national championship contender, but it certainly is a contender.

Led by a careful, efficient AJ McCarron, the Tide defeated Penn State inside Beaver Stadium 27-11. Second-ranked Alabama didn't really get style points Saturday, but it proved that if it doesn't turn the ball over and the defense plays like it did, this team is almost impossible to stop.

For now, Alabama doesn't look like it's equipped for many shootouts, but with the defense it has, it might not have to worry about them.

The Tide allowed just three points and 98 total yards in its opener against Kent State, but forced just one turnover. Saturday, Alabama gave up 251 yards to the 23rd-ranked Nittany Lions, but forced three turnovers.

With each week this defense should get better and more efficient. And so should McCarron, who pretty much cemented himself as Alabama's starter by taking all of the snaps in Happy Valley.

McCarron -- again, far from flashy -- was 19-of-31 passing for 163 yards and a touchdown. But the redshirt sophomore didn't turn the ball over, a sign of maturation from Week 1.

Alabama isn't going to have the nation's best offense and it won't be tremendously exciting for the most part, but the Tide should be pretty efficient. Running back Trent Richardson kept his name in the Heisman race with 26 carries for 111 yards and two touchdowns, and if Alabama can find a consistent No. 2 wide receiver, the offense will look a little more glamorous.

Limiting mistakes and managing the game is all Alabama cares about.