See what a football Friday is like for the Nittany Lions when they hit the road. Penn State is at No. 1 Alabama this week.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Penn State is embarking on its first road trip of the season Friday, traveling South to take on defending national champion Alabama.

Moving all of the men and equipment is a complicated process that takes weeks (if not months) of planning. But for the players -- who must be focused on the game -- it is typically a very smooth operation.

It starts Thursday, when each Nittany Lion who made the travel roster is given a packet that includes a down-to-the-minute breakdown of the entire trip.

Friday, players who are traveling report to the Lasch Football Building in mid-afternoon. The Lions typically begin boarding buses for University Park Airport between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. (it varies depending on the ultimate destination).

The three buses are boarded as follows:

Bus No. 1: Head coach Joe Paterno, offensive coaches, offense, place-kickers.

Bus No. 2: Defensive coaches, defense, punters and snappers.

Bus No. 3: Support personnel. Luggage.

The buses head directly to University Park Airport for the charter flight. The entire team goes through a security check -- Paterno is usually first in line -- and the overall boarding process takes about 15 minutes. The security check is not done at the main terminal, but rather in a separate warehouse.

Before getting on the flight, the players pass by large bins of Gatorade, water and juice, and can take whatever they like onto the plane. In each row there are six seats (three on the left, three on the right). Players sit two to a side, leaving the center seat open on each side. There are always bags of pretzels on the middle seats, but they don't last long.

This week's flight left a 4 p.m. And was expected to take 90 minutes.

The charter flights are direct to whatever destination the team is going to in a given week -- in this case, Birmingham, Ala.

When the flight arrives at the destination, three more buses are waiting. And the team boards them in the same groups as mentioned above.

While getting on the bus, each player is given an envelope with a hotel room key, a map of the hotel (including locations for meeting rooms for the offense and defense) and the name of his assigned roommate for the trip (though the roommate assignments are usually known in advance).

Tom Venturino, Penn State's director of football operations, flies to the destination a day in advance of the team to make all of the necessary arrangements at the team hotel. He drives to the airport to meet the plane and oversees the distribution of the keys and such.

Once boarded, the buses head directly to the team hotel, in this case the Birmingham Marriott.

Upon arrival, the players head directly to their rooms, where they typically have a bit of time to settle in before the team meal (around 5:30 p.m.) and position meetings. The Nittany Lions usually can use the time before and after the meal and meetings to mingle with their families (if they made the trip), too.

After meetings, the players have a light snack around 9:30 p.m. and are then expected to head to their rooms. There is no official curfew, per se, but the staff does do a room check.

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