(8) Alabama - 41, (3) Georgia - 30
By Paul Newberry, AP Sports Writer
September 28, 2008
ATHENS, Ga. (AP)—The Alabama Crimson Tide turned the blackout into
Alabama running back Roy Upchurch (5) escapes Georgia defensive end
Jeremy Lomax (55) for a second-quarter touchdown at Sanford Stadium
in Athens, Ga.
Just don’t tell Nick Saban that he’s got a national championship
contender, not even after a decisive victory over third-ranked
“After five games?” Saban said with a tone of disbelief late Saturday
night. “Let’s see when we get a full body of work at the end of the
But No. 8 Alabama sure looked as impressive as anyone in this young
season by whipping Georgia 41-30, the score not really as close as
the final. The Tide raced to a stunning 31-0 lead over the first
two quarters, and the Bulldogs managed a couple of cosmetic touchdowns
in the waning minutes.
Backed by stout play on both sides of the line and John Parker
Wilson’s accurate passing, Alabama (5-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference)
put this one away before Georgia’s “Redcoat Marching Band” got on the
field for the halftime show.
The Tide scored on its first five possessions.
“That was nice,” said Wilson, who was 13-of-16 for 205 yards and a
touchdown. “That is what you practice for, that is what you strive
to do on every drive.”
Georgia (4-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) became the third team in
the top four to fall on a devastating week for ranked teams, joining
No. 1 USC and No. 4 Florida in the loss column.
“We just got whipped,” coach Mark Richt said. “There’s no excuses,
and don’t expect any from me.”
Alabama is poised to move up at least three or four spots when the
new poll comes out Sunday, though Saban isn’t concerned about getting
to No. 1.
Not yet, anyway.
“It doesn’t matter now. It doesn’t matter until the end,” the Tide’s
$4 million per year coach said. “We have a lot of good football teams
ahead of us.”
Wilson had plenty of time to throw, and freshman Julio Jones was his
favorite receiver with five catches for 94 yards, including a
touchdown. Glenn Coffee ran for a couple of TDs.
Not even the most optimistic Alabama fan could have expected Saban,
who won a national championship at LSU, to turn the Tide so quickly.
This looked far more like Bear Bryant’s Tide, than Saban predecessor
“I’m happy,” said Saban, who spent much of his post-game news
conference berating the Tide’s second-half performance. “I know I
don’t look happy, but I am.”
Looking for a motivational edge, Georgia came out wearing black
jerseys, and most of its fans at 92,000-seat Sanford Stadium also
took part in the “blackout.” But the biggest cheers came from the
white-clad Alabamians sprinkled throughout the massive stands.
Georgia showed some disturbing tendencies even while winning its
first four games, and those sure came back to bite the Bulldogs.
They were flagged twice in the opening half for roughing the passer,
crucial but familiar mistakes for a team that already was the most
penalized in the SEC. Also, an offensive line featuring two freshman
and two sophomores was no match for Alabama’s massive front led by
365-pound Terrence Cody.
“We’ve got some young pups up there,” Richt acknowledged.
Knowshon Moreno got only nine carries for 34 yards, and quarterback
Matthew Stafford spent much of the game running for his life as
Georgia’s 11-game winning streak ended. Stafford took a knock to
the head and didn’t hang around to talk with the media, though Richt
said it wasn’t serious.
The Bulldogs said it’s way too early to give up on a season that
started with them at No. 1, but now has gone into recovery mode.
They pulled it off a year ago, winning their last seven games to
finish second in the rankings.
“It’s just the beginning of the season,” Moreno said. “You saw last
year that anything can happen. This is not the downfall of our team.
We can still bounce back.”
The Bulldogs actually made Alabama a little nervous in the opening
minute of the fourth quarter, closing to 31-17 on Prince Miller’s
92-yard punt return. But the Tide calmly wrapped it up on the next
possession, driving 51 yards in eight plays for Leigh Tiffin’s second
The game was really decided before halftime. Alabama took the opening
kickoff and pushed 80 yards in 11 plays, benefiting from two Georgia
penalties that helped keep the drive moving.
Miller was called for pass interference in the end zone, and there
was no excuse for Akeem Dent delivering a blow to Wilson’s face,
which negated a fumble that Georgia recovered. Two plays later, Mark
Ingram scored on a 7-yard run.
The Tide was just getting started.
Georgia was called for two more crucial penalties on the visiting
team’s next possession—a defensive holding on Miller and another
blatant roughing-the-passer penalty, this time on Jarius Wynn. The
Bulldogs managed to make the Tide to settle for Tiffin’s 23-yard
After Brian Mimbs shanked a 19-yard punt, Wilson hooked up with Jones
for 31 yards and Coffee finished off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown.
The Bulldogs couldn’t do anything right. A.J. Green, the freshman
receiver coming off a huge game at Arizona State, had the ball
stripped away after a catch. Dont’a Hightower, Alabama’s star
freshman on defense, grabbed it out of the air and started another
Tide possession on Georgia’s side of the field, this time at the 33.
On third-and-goal at the 4, Roy Upchurch burst up the middle and into
the end zone untouched.
Wilson’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Jones completed the onslaught and
left Georgia with its worst deficit in Richt’s eight years as coach.