This week’s trip behind the woodshed takes us to Athens, Georgia for a game that has gone down in Alabama history as one of the great thumpings of the Saban era. The 2008 cross-divisional showdown between the Tide and the Bulldogs is now commonly known as “The Blackout.”
The week leading up to this game introduced the world to Scott Cochran, Alabama’s strength and conditioning coach. To Tide fans, Cochran is more than just a strength coach; he is a force of nature. Cochran is loud and boisterous, and besides building Tide players into monsters in the weight room, his specialty is building them up mentally before games. During the buildup to game day, word got out that Georgia was planning to wear special black jerseys and the students would wear black, creating a “blackout” atmosphere. When Cochran learned of this he had his own take on the situation. ESPN cameras caught him during an Alabama practice informing the team that Georgia was wearing black because they would be attending a funeral on Saturday night. He did so in his trademark fashion, with the volume turned up to 11 and a healthy dose of expletives peppered in, capped off by his trademark “YEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”
Come gameday, the Dawgs won the coin toss and deferred, ceding the ball to the Tide. Mistake. Setting the tone for the night, Alabama drove the ball 73 yards down the field and Mark Ingram punched it in for a touchdown. The defense was stifling in the first half, and Ingram, Roy Upchuch and Glen Coffee pounded on the Georgia defense relentlessly in trademark Alabama fashion. Quarterback John Parker Wilson was incredibly efficient, carving up the Dawg defense and hitting Julio Jones for a touchdown to put the Tide up 31-0 before halftime.
Although the game was essentially over at halftime, Alabama uncharacteristically let Georgia climb back into the game. The Dawgs managed to get out of their own way in the second half, scoring 17 points. The Tide woke up midway through the fourth quarter, scoring 10 more points and extending the lead to 41-17. It should have been clear sailing from then on, but quarterback Matthew Stafford made garbage time interesting with two touchdown passes. His effort was too little too late however, and the first half physical beating the Tide put on his Dawgs proved too much to overcome.
The final score may be a bit misleading, but make no mistake, this was a mauling (thanks to Brent Musberger, I am going to use that phrase as often as possible). Alabama dominated Georgia on the line of scrimmage, punished them with the running game, and stifled Georgia’s running attack.
More importantly, the world learned what happens when teams trot out gimmicks against Alabama. They get slaughtered. The football gods frown upon such boorish tactics and use the impeccably clad Tide as their instrument of revenge. The blackout game gave Tide fans another folk hero in Scott Cochran, who plays the role of Nick Saban’s attack dog perfectly, barking loudly and helping build the Alabama war machine.
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