Nittany Lions play Alabama next season
Share with others:
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State wide receiver Derek Moye watched the Bowl Championship Series national title game with great interest.
"I was kind of rooting for Alabama," he said.
The Crimson Tide (14-0) beat Texas, 37-21, Thursday night for its eighth national title and was a unanimous No. 1 yesterday in the final Associated Press and USA Today coaches' polls.
The Nittany Lions (11-2) finished No. 8 in the coaches' poll and No. 9 in the AP poll -- their 23rd Top-10 ranking under Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno.
Eight months from now, Penn State will travel to Tuscaloosa Sept. 11 to play Alabama in a showdown of two of college football's most storied programs.
The Lions will do so with a new, inexperienced starting quarterback, while the Crimson Tide will showcase Heisman Trophy running back Mark Ingram.
- Game: Penn State vs. Alabama.
- When: Sept. 11, 2010.
- Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
"We're excited to play them," Moye said. "Hopefully, we can go down there and compete. It will be a challenge to play against the defending national champs and the Heisman winner, but it will be something we can always say we did."
Penn State and Alabama, which will visit Beaver Stadium Sept. 10, 2011, last met in 1990. The Crimson Tide leads the series, 8-5, with its biggest victory coming in the 1979 Sugar Bowl.
No. 2 Alabama toppled No. 1 Penn State, 14-7, in that game and won the national championship with a goal-line stand under legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, who was 4-0 all time against Paterno.
"Playing Alabama in the second game next season will be a great motivator for us during the offseason," free safety Nick Sukay said after the Lions' 19-17 victory against LSU in the Capital One Bowl New Year's Day. "It will keep us pumped up and focused."
"As soon as the game ended, we were saying, 'Bring on 'Bama,' " center Stefen Wisniewski said. "Beating LSU gives us the confidence that we can play with any SEC team."
Moye (Rochester High School), Sukay (Greensburg Central Catholic) and Wisniewski (Central Catholic) are among 13 starters returning this fall for Penn State, which was one of three Big Ten teams to finish in the Top 10 of both polls yesterday.
It was the highest total among any conference and marked the fourth time in the past eight seasons that the Big Ten has produced three Top-10 programs. Ohio State and Iowa were No. 5 and No. 7, respectively, in the AP and coaches' polls.
The Big Ten also enjoyed its first winning record in bowl games since 2002, finishing 4-3, including 2-0 in BCS games.
The Big Ten became the first conference to post four bowl wins against Top-15 teams since it accomplished the same feat in 1998-99.
The Lions also improved their bowl record to 10-3 since joining the Big Ten in 1993.
"I think the [Big Ten] is a good, solid conference," Paterno said recently.
Pitt (10-3) ended up No. 15 in both polls after beating North Carolina, 19-17, in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. It was the Panthers' highest final ranking since 1982, when quarterback Dan Marino led them to Top-10 finishes in both polls.
West Virginia (9-4) was No. 22 in the coaches' poll and No. 25 in the AP poll after losing to Florida State, 33-21, in the Gator Bowl in coach Bobby Bowden's final game with the Seminoles.
While Penn State recorded its 15th 11-win season under Paterno, Pitt's 19 victories the past two years under coach Dave Wannstedt are its most since 1981-82.
Also, the Lions are 51-13 since 2005, tied with the Mountaineers for the nation's seventh-best winning percentage (.797) in that span.
First Published January 9, 2010 12:00 am