Chris Jordan, a 6-2, 232-pound junior inside linebacker, made one of those hits that drops a ball-carrier in his tracks in Alabama’s 48-3 win over San Jose State Saturday night.
“I felt it, but it was just adrenaline,” Jordan said. “And then the crowd.
“Everybody doing that big ‘Ooooooh.’
“It just sent chills down my back.”
Jordan hopes for more thrills this week when the Crimson Tide, ranked first in the nation, hosts Penn State, ranked 14th in the Coaches Poll and 18th by the Associated Press. Bama and the Nittany Lions kick off at 6 p.m. CDT with national television coverage by ESPN.
Although Jordan says, “Every game means something,” he admitted that “We’ve had a circle around Penn State just because of the standard of excellence they have.”
“Every team that you’re facing that comes into your stadium and you’re going against them, it means something. You come out with the right attitude and play your kind of football or you underrate them and they beat you, like the Sugar Bowl when we came out flat and Utah upset us.”
Don’t look for Bama to underrate Penn State.
“They’re going to come out and play hard-nosed football, and we like that,” Jordan said. “We have a standard of excellence, too, of being tough at the point of attack. We’re going to come out and play our type of defense and the offense is going to execute on all cylinders to try to put points on the board.
“Coach told us when we started practicing for Penn State that they’re a hard-nosed type football team and they have a traditional offense. They’re going to come and try to hit us in the mouth, so we’d better be ready. That’s what we expect. That’s what we’re preparing for this week. It’s a tough game this week. We’re getting ready for that.”
There is a plus to playing a big time opponent, Jordan said. “I live a physical challenge like that,” he said. “It gives us something to work harder for. It creates more excitement at practice.”
Jordan called the match-up “the survival of the fittest. We have two major programs going head to head this weekend. The best-conditioned and most physical team is going to win. The team that makes the fewest mistakes could determine the outcome.”
Jordan, who is from Brentwood, Tenn., ordinarily plays when Alabama is in a nickel formation, moving into a middle linebacker spot on passing downs. In addition to the big hit he made from linebacker, he had an impressive tackle on a kickoff against San Jose. He likes the new NCAA rule banning three-man wedge blocking on a kickoff return.
“That’s a big plus,” he said. “I like hitting a two-man wedge a lot better than a three-man. I had a couple of concussions last year hitting a three-man wedge, so I like the rule.”
Although Alabama vs. Penn State has an important history, the operative word is “history.” Current players have zero memory of a game that was played when they were infants, or not even born.
Jordan has a vague memory of having seen the fourth down play of the goal line stand in the Sugar Bowl that gave Bama a 14-7 win over Penn State and the 1978 national championship.
Has Jordan, who came to Alabama as a two-way prospect, running back or linebacker, ever been involved in a play like that?
“The other way around,” he said. “I was a running back jumping over the pile.”
One difference. Unlike Penn State running back Mike Guman, who was met head-on by Tide linebacker Barry Krauss, Jordan made it over the pile and into the end zone.
The crowd went “Ooooooh.”