TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Could Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram have difficulty getting his job back?
Probably not, but there's no question his backup, Trent Richardson, is a gifted player in his own right.
Richardson rushed for 144 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown to spark the Crimson Tide over Penn State 24-3 Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The sophomore who showed speed, power and finished several runs dragging Penn State tacklers preferred to give the credit away.
"I just try to play hard on every carry," he said. "Our offensive line did a great job of creating holes, and they just worked hard all night. They've worked hard all season, and it showed today."
The Alabama camp was energized by Penn State's first visit here in 20 years. The Nittany Lions played the Tide twice in Sugar Bowls, and the teams engaged in a 10-game series from 1981-90.
"Bryant-Denny was electric," linebacker Don't'a Hightower said. "Coming here tonight and playing a great team like Penn State and a great coach like Joe Paterno was great."
"It was a great atmosphere," said quarterback Greg McElroy, who completed 16-of-24 passes for 229 yards and two first-half touchdowns that staked the Tide to a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter. "It's a game you come to Alabama to play, and it was a special opportunity for us playing against a legend like Joe Paterno, classy fans, classy program, really classy team. It was a great opportunity for us, and I am glad we took advantage of it."
Richardson felt JoePa's presence as well.
"It was an honor to play in this game, especially against a legend like Joe Paterno," he said. "It was an honor just to see him out there on the sidelines. This is something that I will remember for a long time."
Alabama limited the Lions to 127 rushing yards on 31 attempts and controlled the line of scrimmage.
"Penn State's a physical team," Tide defensive lineman Josh Chapman said. "They want to run the ball at you. The things that Coach [Nick Saban] prepared us to do, we went out and executed those things."
Bolden: The good and bad
Freshman quarterback Rob Bolden was 13-of-29 for 144 yards in his first road game, and running back Stephfon Green thought the young man played well.
"I told him, 'Hey, you keep your head, this is not your fault. You came into a hostile environment as a freshman, and you played your behind off,'" Green said.
"This kid," Green added, "is going to be a great player by the time his career is over here at Penn State."
Bolden also made freshman mistakes by throwing two lame-duck passes that were intercepted when he probably should have eaten the ball.
"Good and bad," Paterno said of Bolden's performance. "What you expect."
"He took a lot of shots tonight and hung in there, kept his poise, didn't panic," quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno said. "He made a couple of really clutch throws."
On the interceptions, JayPa said, "He got him on both of them. He was heading to the right guy both times, got hit on both of them."
Penn State also had to burn three timeouts with the play clock winding down, but Jay Paterno said all of that wasn't on Bolden.
"I think he played pretty well," receiver Derek Moye said. "He made a few mistakes that any quarterback's gonna make in this environment. He's got a little ways to go, but I think he's going to be fine."
No true freshman quarterback has ever beaten a No. 1 team on the road.
LB Hodges hurt
The game started off badly for PSU as backup linebacker Gerald Hodges suffered an injury on the opening kickoff. He was seen on the sideline later on in the game wearing street clothes and a boot on his left foot.
Hodges said after the game that he has a bone bruise but noted, "It felt worse."
Delany discusses intersectional games
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany stood alone in the Alabama press box, watching Ohio State play Miami on TV, Michigan play Notre Dame and Penn State preparing to play the Crimson Tide.
With the Big Ten trying to get to nine conference games by 2015, there's a good chance some big intersectional games like those may be difficult to find.
"Would there be fewer games against intersectional rivals? I don't know," Delany said. "I think not. I think Purdue and Michigan State are going to want to play Notre Dame. I think Ohio State has gone out and scheduled some major opponents.
"That'd be an athletic director's choice. But I think some people would tend to play three wins maybe, three lower-division teams. But I think some people would still choose to play a big game. I think the key is to our athletic directors to try and get seven home games in an environment where you're five home and four away [in conference]. So to me, that's the larger stumbling block than the concern about not wanting to play big intersectional games. I think we'll play those, and I think there's a lot of value in them."
ESPN signal goes black
A number of local viewers lost the signal at the start of Saturday's game for a little more than 10 minutes of real time. Shortly before Alabama's Trent Richardson was shown getting prepared to field the opening kickoff, the ESPN signal went out, and the screen was black.
The feeds came back to show a replay of Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones recovering his fumbled punt, and the first full play shown was Jones' 21-yard reception at 11:13 of the first quarter on first-and-10 from the Crimson Tide 32-yard line.
It's unclear what the cause of the outage was, but based on some frustration expressed online by viewers from across the state, it seems the issue was related to ESPN's feed and not the fault of individual providers.
News and notes
Michael Mauti started at LB instead of Nate Stupar. Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said it will be week to week on who starts. ... Penn State's defense had gone 17 straight games without allowing a 100-yard rusher, but Alabama's Trent Richardson (144) ended that streak. Iowa's Shonn Greene (117 in 2008) had been the last to do it. ... To help with scorching temperatures - it was 88 at kickoff - Penn State had several large portable fans on its sideline. ... True freshmen, other than Bolden, on the traveling roster: RB Silas Redd, LB Khairi Fortt, FB Glenn Carson, TE Kevin Haplea, DT DaQuan Jones and P Alex Butterworth."
(Compiled by Cory Giger and Neil Rudel; additional reporting by Josh Langenbacher)