Alabama Football: Breaking down Tide’s 2008 win vs. Clemson Tigers

(Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
(Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images) /

Alabama football started off 2008 with a statement win vs. the Clemson Tigers

When Alabama football began their second season of Nick Saban’s tenure, they knew that they had to see progress. With solid recruiting and a veteran offensive line, many thought that the Tide would be a better team. However, no one expected them to have an undefeated regular season and compete for an SEC Championship. The first chance Alabama really turned heads was in their season opener against the Clemson Tigers.

Clemson had hopes of competing for a national title, but they were squandered after one game against the Tide. In this matchup, Alabama wore down the Tigers and won by three possessions. While we have a break from sports, I decided to look back at this game and see just how Alabama football beat the Clemson Tigers in 2008.

How did Alabama football upset Clemson?

Alabama relied heavily on their 2-headed monster of Glen Coffee and Mark Ingram to win this one. Ingram was just a freshman, but he started his career with 17 carries and two receptions. He didn’t score except for a 2-point conversion, but he certainly had an early impact for the Crimson Tide.

Clemson wanted to get C.J. Spiller and James Davis involved early and often, but they combined for only 20 rushing yards. By the time they could get involved, the deficit was too big to run the ball heavily.

Alabama really came out of the gate against Clemson. They scored on each of their first three possessions, and their defense held the Tigers to five plays from scrimmage in their first two drives. They had an early fumble and a three-and-out to cause an early deficit.

Alabama began its early reputation of big first halves and troublesome finishes to games. After a 23-3 lead going into the half, Clemson returned the opening kick for a touchdown to cut the lead to just 13. However, John Parker Wilson showed his leadership in the second half and led a scoring drive to take back a commanding lead.

JPW really gets overlooked as an Alabama football quarterback. He wasn’t explosive like Tua or successful like A.J., but he was tough. He always scrambled for a first down with power instead of finesse. He also was efficient as a passer. He set the completions career record at Alabama in this game, and he had the rest of the season to pad his stats.

This game really started the hype for the Crimson Tide. For the first time, Alabama football had to manage expectations with Nick Saban as their coach. That has become tradition now, but it was a big moment then.

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After this game, Alabama went on to beat Georgia on the road. They also began their dynasty despite failing to make it to the national championship game. Clemson and Alabama football have an interesting rivalry now, but their recent history really began in Saban’s second year.