Halftime update: Alabama-Penn State

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- We've reached the half here in Happy Valley, where No. 3 Alabama looks every bit like a national championship contender as it leads No. 23 Penn State 17-3.

Turning point I: Trailing 3-0, Alabama called a fake punt on fourth-and-1 and barely moved the chains. Quarterback AJ McCarron then made several nice throws in leading an 11-play, 69-yard touchdown drive to take the lead.

Turning point II: Penn State's offense finally had some life as Rob Bolden re-entered the game at quarterback. But a fumble by tight end Andrew Szczerba extinguished the momentum, and Alabama converted for a touchdown with 35 seconds left in the half.

Stat of the half: Of Penn State's 92 total yards, 54 came on the game's opening possession, which resulted in a field goal. Alabama outgained Penn State 171-92 in the half.

Player of the half: Alabama's McCarron. The sophomore looks very comfortable in his first career road start, completing 13 of 19 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown. This performance should lock up the starting quarterback job.