Alabama Football: 25 Greatest Games in the Saban Era

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Alabama football QB, John Parker Wilson

Alabama football (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

August 30, 2008 – Alabama vs Clemson in Atlanta

The 2007 season record of 7-6 gave hints Nick Saban was rebuilding Alabama football. The 2008 season was expected to indicate how long the rebuild would take.

Clemson was 9-4 in 2007 and entered the opening game of 2008 ranked No. 8 in the nation. Mostly driven by respect for Nick Saban, rather than the Tide’s 7-6, 2007 record, the Tide was ranked No. 24 in the preseason. Preseason media polls had Alabama football projected as the fifth best team in the SEC. Clemson was predicted to be the class of the ACC.

Clemson’s offense was triggered by the passing of Cullen Harper and the rushing duo of CJ Spiller and James Davis. Davis had rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2007 and both backs had averaged more than five yards-per-carry. Against Alabama in 2008, the pair rushed for a combined 20 yards. Harper passed for 188 yards but he had to throw the ball 34 times to do it. Clemson’s only touchdown came on a 96-yard kickoff return by Spiller to open the second half.

Clemson was never really in the game. The Tide ran 80 plays to 48 for the Tigers. The Tide had 419 yards of offense to 188 for Clemson. Net rushing totals were 239 yards for Alabama football and zero for Tigers.

In the end, there was not much Clemson head coach, Tommy Bowden could say.

Nobody has really done that to us the last three years. We got whipped both sides of the ball for about the whole game.

In his tenth season as Clemson’s head coach, Tommy Bowden would coach only five more games. Midway through the 2008 season, he stepped down and Dabo Swinney was named the interim head coach.

The win pushed the Crimson Tide to No. 13 in the nation.

Final Score: Alabama 34 – Clemson 10

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