There are several big differences this year, perhaps the biggest one according to 2011 Captain Derek Moye? Alabama travels north to Happy Valley.
"Home field could definitely be a huge advantage," Moye said. "They are breaking in a new quarterback and our crowd will be a big advantage to us."
And fellow Captain and tackle Quinn Barham agrees.
"We are so excited," Barham said. "When you have 110 thousand fans screaming, and its going to be a white out so its going to be crazy."
He added, "the focus is still Alabama. We are still going to focus and play solid football. We are happy to have Alabama come up here, but it's a matter of getting that win."
And one of the ways that Penn State plans on getting that win is utilizing the added year of experience.
"I think this year we are more comfortable and more confidant," Barham said. "And we actually know what we are getting into. Last year I don't think we knew what we were getting into, just understanding where we were as a team."
And a key part of that new understanding is on the offensive side of the ball.
"I feel like we are more experienced offense," Moye said. "Last year we had a lot of inexperienced guys in some key positions."
This year those leading the Penn State team think that will be different.
"I think it is just a matter of executing and finishing I think that has been a big issue for us this season," Barham said. "Just finishing and doing all the little things right were not really focusing on turnovers just a matter of executing."
There is one more change that PSU has going for them this year.
White shoe laces.
"A few guys decided to do it in the past," Moye said. "I think in the bowl game so it kind of came from that. The equipment guys said that if we all do it we can, so we just went with it."
A change that Moye thinks brings Penn State football one-step closer to one of it's focuses – tradition.
"I think if you look back on some of the old pictures and everything they all have white shoe laces," Moye said. "I think going back in time it maybe makes it more traditional actually."
All these factors combined, will help the 2011 team as they take the field Saturday against Alabama.
"They are rated number two now and they deserve it," Barham said. "And we are proud to go against them, a tough test like the Alabama defense can show our fans and us that we can get the job done."
Which is exactly what Moye, Barham and the rest of the team hope to do.