(24) Alabama - 34, (9) Clemson - 10
- Associated Press
September 1, 2008
ATLANTA, Ga. (AP) -- Nick Saban's plan to bring No. 24 Alabama back
to prominence looks way ahead of schedule. As for No. 9 Clemson,
another big game ended with the Tigers on the losing end.
Mark Ingram (22) to runs through for a two-point conversion against
Clemson in the third quarter.
The Crimson Tide had little trouble rolling past Clemson 34-10 at
the Georgia Dome on Saturday night, the biggest victory in coach
Saban's two seasons at Alabama.
Alabama's defense held Clemson to zero rushing yards and John Parker
Wilson threw for two touchdowns as Alabama beat a top-10 opponent
for the first time since topping No. 5 Florida in 2005. That was
part of the last hurrah for former coach Mike Shula, who followed
that 10-2 season with a 6-7 campaign that ended his time with the
Alabama lured Saban from the NFL last season to lead the 12-time
national champs back to glory. Based on the opener, Saban and the
Tide are on their way.
Wilson finished 22-of-30 for 180 yards and, with his career total
completions now at 500, surpassed Brodie Croyle's old record of 488.
The Crimson Tide defense held the Tigers' heralded ``Thunder and
Lightning'' backfield of James Davis and C.J. Spiller to 20 yards
The Tigers managed only 188 yards, way off their 403-yard average
from last season.
Saban's latest recruiting class included such high-profile prospects
as receiver Julio Jones, an Internet sensation who fans have buzzed
about for months. Still, Alabama didn't figure to hang with the
Tigers, an experienced bunch who entered the season with higher
hopes than just their first Atlantic Coast Conference championship
in 17 years.
Right from the start, though, Alabama showed it matched up fine
with the ACC's favorite.
The Tide ran the ball easily on Clemson's defense, which was ninth
in the country a season ago. At one point, Alabama had outgained the
Tigers 114-1. By the time, tight end Nick Walker had slipped behind
three defenders for a 4-yard TD catch, Alabama was ahead 20-3 midway
through the second quarter.
Just for good measure, Jones collected his first college TD pass, a
4-yarder from Wilson that put Alabama up 31-10.
Leigh Tiffin added four field goals, including a 54-yard kick that
was Alabama's third longest of all time.
Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper, voted the favorite to win ACC
player of the year, was continually pressured and off target
The Tigers, down 23-3 at the half, got a burst of life when Spiller
broke for a 96-yard kickoff return TD to start the second half, then
forced the Tide into their first punt of the night a series later.
Clemson, though, could get little going and, for the second time in
eight months, left the Georgia Dome with more questions and answers.
The Tigers just can't help but stumble whenever they close in on
They lost to a lightly regarded Maryland in 2006 at home, 13-12,
when victory would've sent Clemson to the ACC title game.
Then last year, the Tigers were beaten 20-17 by Boston College in
a showdown for a spot in the league's championship game.
Clemson concluded the season with a 23-20 overtime loss to Auburn
in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, missing out on its first 10-victory season
This was the year, many thought, that Clemson and embattled coach
Tommy Bowden would shake off their reputations for not winning the
biggest games. Alabama was where it was supposed to start.
Instead, Bowden again must refocus a team filled with veterans and
leaders running out of time.
Clemson's loss also concluded a demoralizing day for the ACC. Earlier,
defending league champion Virginia Tech fell to East Carolina, while
Virginia was defeated at home by No. 3 Southern Cal 52-7.
For Alabama, it's a win sure to fuel talk of Southeastern Conference
success. The Tide don't start down that road for three more games,
the opener against SEC Western Division rival Arkansas following home
games against Tulane and Western Kentucky.
The Crimson Tide have won 12 straight against Clemson, although the
team's hadn't met since 1975 when the late Bear Bryant laid a 56-0
humiliation on the Tigers.
Maybe Alabama and Saban will soon have more in common with the Bear's