Alabama Football: 25 Greatest Games in the Saban Era

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September 15, 2007 – Alabama vs. Arkansas in Bryant-Denny

Following a 2006 season with a 6-7 record that included only two SEC wins, Alabama football fans were anxious for a quick reversal of fortune. There was no doubt Nick Saban would engineer a revival of Alabama football fortunes. The only question was how long it would take him.

Time was needed to rebuild a roster needing more talent and better depth. Mike Shula’s last three recruiting classes in 2004-2006 had pulled in only one 5-Star player and not many 4-Stars. Those three recruiting cycles, Alabama football finished No. 21, No. 16 and No. 13 in the FBS.

Juniors John Patrick Wilson, Antoine Caldwell, along with senior Wallace Gilberry were solid. There were also some talented underclassmen in Javier Arenas, Justin Woodall, Rashad Johnson, Glen Coffee and Roy Upchurch.  Future stars Rolando McClain, Marquis Maze, Luther Davis, William Vlachos Josh Chapman and Kareem Jackson joined the team in the 2007 signing class.

Arkansas, under Houston Nutt, was coming off a 10 win season in 2006. The Razorbacks were powerful on offense led by the running back trio of Darren McFadden, Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis. After a season-opening win against Troy, the Razorbacks came to Tuscaloosa ranked No. 16 in the nation.

The unranked Crimson Tide opened the 2007 season with wins against Western Carolina and Vanderbilt. The Tide offense had not shined in the 24-10 victory over the Commodores. The 14-point margin included three field goals by Leigh Tiffin.

Against Arkansas, the Crimson Tide jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, with two TD receptions by DJ Hall and a touchdown run by Glen Coffee. At the end of three quarters, Alabama football held a 14-point advantage, 31-17. Helped by Alabama turnovers, the Razorbacks countered with two Darren McFadden touchdowns and a TD pass from Casey Dick to Peyton Hillis. The Hogs led by seven points with eight minutes left.

Leigh Tiffin cut the lead to 38-34 with a 42-yard field goal at 4:20. McFadden set out the next series after a blow to the head on the kickoff return. Without the Hogs’ best player on the field, the Tide held them to a three-and-out.

Alabama started its next drive from its own 27 with just over two minutes left. Wilson was sensational. Even with no timeouts, he was methodical and accurate, completing 7 passes on the final drive. The game-winner was a four-yard toss to a leaping Matt Caddell in the corner of the Alabama football north end zone.

Wilson finished the game 24-for-45 for 327 yards. For Arkansas, McFadden rushed for 195 yards on 33 carries.

Final score Alabama 41- Arkansas 38

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