TUSCALOOSA, AL – The No. 1 Alabama football team totaled 409 yards of offense and forced four turnovers in a resounding 24-3 victory over the No. 18 Penn State Nittany Lions before a crowd of 101,821 at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday night.
UA sophomore running back Trent Richardson ran for 144 yards on 22 carries with one touchdown while senior quarterback Greg McElroy finished 16-of-24 for 229 yards and two touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Julio Jones totaled four receptions for 46 yards while junior wide receiver Darius Hanks added three catches for 52 yards.
Richardson, who totaled 190 yards on the night, became the first player to rush for over 100 yards versus a Penn State defense in 17 games.
"I thought Trent Richardson had a fantastic game," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. " I think this was the first back that's gotten over 100 yards against their defense in a long, long time which says a lot about their defense, but it also says a lot about Trent making the 140 yards that he made. I thought Greg did a really good job of managing the game, and I thought we had four or five guys make plays out there and we need to continue to have more guys make big plays to continue to be a good offensive team. We had good balance, and I think that's going to be the key to us continuing to improve."
Alabama (2-0) scored on three of its first four possessions in building a 17-0 halftime lead. The Tide added a touchdown early in the fourth quarter before allowing Penn State its only points of the game midway through the final period.
The Crimson Tide defense forced four Penn State turnovers, three of which occurred inside the Alabama 20 yard line. The Crimson Tide defense has not allowed a touchdown so far two games into the 2010 season.
" I think the key to the game was probably the turnovers in the red zone – they had three – and that was the key to the game," Saban said. "Turnovers always play a significant part in the outcome of any game. I think we had four, but we got three very timely ones when they made drives."
After both teams exchanged punts to open the game, McElroy led Alabama on a five play, 68-yard scoring drive, culminating in a 36-yard scoring strike to redshirt freshman Kevin Norwood to put the Tide up 7-0 midway through the first quarter. The touchdown was Norwood's first in an Alabama uniform.
The Crimson Tide padded the lead to 14-0 at the outset of the second quarter following McElroy's 14-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Preston Dial. Richardson accounted for 73 of the drive's 97 yards after Alabama took over at its own three yard line following sophomore safety Will Lowery's first career interception.
A 31-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Jeremy Shelley at the 3:54 mark of the second quarter gave the Tide a 17-0 halftime advantage. After a scoreless third quarter, Richardson capped off a 12-play, 71-yard drive with a one yard plunge into the end zone that put Alabama up 24-0.
Penn State (1-1) notched its only points of the evening on a 36-yard field goal by Collin Wagner, midway through the fourth quarter.
"I'm really proud of our players, in terms of the way we competed with toughness in the game," Saban said. "I think we had good intensity. I think it was a tough night out there, and I think some guys got tired in the second quarter, but I think we came back and finished the game fairly well other than the few errors that we talked about.
The Nittany Lions moved the ball into Alabama territory on five different occasions, three of which resulted in turnovers. PSU freshman quarterback Rob Bolden finished the game 13-of-29 for 144 yards with two interceptions before giving way to Kevin Newsome in the fourth quarter. The Nittany Lions rushed for 127 yards on 31 carries, with tailback Evan Royster accounting for 32 yards on nine carries.
"We had a great game plan," UA junior linebacker Don't'a Hightower said. "We caused turnovers in the red zone and that helped us a lot."
Redshirt freshman linebacker Ed Stinson led the Tide with nine tackles while junior linebacker Jerrell Harris added seven. Junior safety Mark Barron had six tackles and an interception while sophomore safety Robert Lester added five tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery.