TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Storied programs, iconic coaches and the kind of rich history normally reserved for longer-running rivalries.
If only No. 1 Alabama and No. 18 Penn State – Joe Paterno vs. Nick Saban – could toss a Heisman Trophy winner into this tasty football stew tonight. But Crimson Tide tailback Mark Ingram seemed less likely to return for the game from a knee injury as the week went along.
Never mind that, though. It’s the first meeting in two decades between onetime rivals who forged a tradition of classic games in the late 1970s and ’80s.
It’s also the first chance for Alabama to offer hard evidence it’s worthy of top billing, and for JoePa and Penn State to make their own statement.
“I think these are the kinds of games that players who are great competitors certainly look forward to playing in,” the Tide’s Saban said. “I think Penn State probably has as fine a team as anybody in the country.
“It’s the kind of games that define who you are.”
Or at least until Ingram is healthy and defensive end Marcell Dareus finishes serving his two-game NCAA suspension.