With this week’s nationally televised game in Tuscaloosa pitting number one ranked Alabama Crimson Tide against 19th ranked Penn State, history and memories are abundant. Not only do both teams have highly respected head coaches in Nick Saban and Joe Paterno, but this game will continue a rivalry that has been set on pause since 1990.
There are several memories that connect Penn State with Alabama and Paterno is deeply ingrained in all of them. The first four meetings included Hall of Fame coaches Bear Bryant of Alabama and Penn State’s Paterno while he was an assistant in the 1959 game. These two coaches are legends within their respective schools and not much has changed in 51 years. Paterno recalls Alabama agreeing to play a home-and-home series, something other Southeastern Conference teams were reluctant to do.
“It’s a great experience to take a bunch of kids down to the stadium such as the one we’re going to play in with that many people and the kind of enthusiasm,” Paterno said. “And they’ll learn from it. They’ll be better, they’ll remember.”
If the ’79 Sugar Bowl is the biggest one for Alabama fans, there are a few more pleasing to the Nittany Lions even though the Tide leads the all time series 8-5.
On Oct. 12, 1985., Penn State was a National title contender where they won 19- 17 on a Matt Knizner’s 11- yard touchdown pass to tight end Brian Siverling. Then in 1983, Alabama quarterback Walter Lewis out of bounds touchdown attempt, followed by Penn State’s defense stopping Kerry Goode on the two yard line as time expired to win 34-28.
Most players on both teams were just babies the last time these two powerhouse programs met, let alone born when these games were played. But with the knowledge of former players coming back to tell the tales, these Nittany Lions know there is more than just a nationally televised game and an upset on the line. This will be a game to remember and a game that not many will want to miss.