The thought of Joe Paterno coming back to Tuscaloosa just seems so right. It's been long overdue to see Penn State back in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Only this time JoePa is the winningest coach in football history.
Twenty years ago, if someone told you JoePa would return to Bryant-Denny as the all-time winningest coach, breaking legendary Bear Bryant's record, in Alabama, they would have told you that you were down right crazy.
JoePa is on the verge of 400 wins this season, obviously a pinnacle where he will stand alone.
"We've been down there a couple times, in fact we've had a little luck down there," JoePa said, when asked about the trip to Alabama.
JoePa beat Alabama 9-0 in the last meeting between these two schools. That was 20 years ago, and the game was at Bryant-Denny.
Joe Paterno's Penn State teams' overall record against Alabama: 4-8 (Paterno went 0-4 against Bryant-coached Alabama teams, and 4-4 since his retirement.)
“It haunted my ego. When I stood toe to toe with Bear Bryant, he outcoached me.” Paterno said of Bear.
One of the most memorable games is the 1979 Sugar Bowl, Alabama won the national championship on a goal line stand. The goal line stand was set up by Don McNeal, who happens to be the Uncle of Penn State starting QB Robert Bolden.
Penn State's Stefen Wisniewski on Bama this Saturday: "It’s the biggest game I’ve been a part of here. It doesn’t really get any bigger."
Bama will likely be without Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, and will be without DE Marcell Dareus. But depth on the D-line and Trent Richardson should help fill those voids rather conveniently.
Bill Curry's undefeated Alabama team went to Happy Valley in 1989, and made it out alive on a blocked field goal to win.
Alabama's newly expanded stadium will have a feel to it unlike any other this Saturday; only JoePa and Penn State can bring a feeling like this. The Atmosphere will be incredible. Somewhere, the Spirit of Bear Bryant will be there.
Alabama is coming off its 13th National Championship, and JoePa is on the verge of 400 wins. Over 100,000 will fill Bryant-Denny to watch two of the greatest football programs in the nation.
History, tradition, and pageantry defines this game.
It has been more than a decade since Paterno last coached against Nick Saban. Paterno and Saban go way back. When Saban was at Michigan State, JoePa won three out of five meetings. But the next one will likely be the most difficult task.
Alabama-31, Penn State-17