STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — To call Alabama tight end Michael Williams open would have been a stretch.
It didn’t stop A.J. McCarron from delivering a fastball that must have made lots of Alabama fans think the Crimson Tide’s quarterback competition is over.
McCarron was poised and efficient in a rare trip to Big Ten country for No. 3 Alabama, throwing for 163 yards and a 5-yard touchdown that he zipped through traffic to Williams as the Tide beat No. 23 Penn State 27-11 on Saturday.
Alabama completed a sweep of the home-and-home series between the two storied programs with a methodical and smothering performance reminiscent of last year’s 24-3 win.
Both teams came into the second week of the season with unsettled quarterback issues. At Alabama (2-0), those now appear to be settled.
“That’s not my concern. That’s why coach make the calls,” McCarron said. “Coach tells me to go out and I’m going to play.”
Playing in front of the largest crowd ever to see an Alabama football game, McCarron was 19 for 31 with no turnovers.
“Not just myself, the whole offense did a great job of not allowing turnovers and the defense got us turnovers,” the sophomore said. “That’s the way we have to play. If we keep playing like that, it’s going to be a special team.”
McCarron started the Tide’s first game against Kent State but had to share the job with Phillip Sims. He gave coach Nick Saban no reason to make a change until the game was out of reach.
Saban, of course, was not about to declare McCarron the unchallenged No. 1.
“We still have a competition at the position,” Saban said. “We really do feel like we have two very good players and we want both guys to continue to develop. But I thought A.J. did a nice job today.”
Nittany Lions fans might be wondering if either Robert Bolden or Matt McGloin are the answer at quarterback for Penn State (1-1). They combined to go 12 for 39 for 144 yards.
“We certainly deserved a whooping today,” Penn State coach Joe Paterno said.
Paterno coached from a box way above the field at Beaver Stadium – nursing pelvic and leg injuries from a collision with a player.
Trent Richardson was workmanlike with 26 carries for 111 yards and two touchdowns, including a 13-yarder with 6:14 left in the fourth that made it 27-3 and cleared much of the 107,846 at Beaver Stadium – save the ones in Crimson shirts.
The Tide defense held Penn State to 251 yards.