ATLANTA, Ga. – Alabama’s defense held Clemson to zero rushing yards and dominated the game from start to finish, opening the 2008 season with an impressive 34-10 win over the 9th-ranked Tigers before a crowd of 70,097 at the Georgia Dome.
Alabama beat a top-10 opponent for the first time since topping No. 5 Florida in 2005. Senior quarterback John Parker Wilson completed 22-of-30 passes for 180 yards and, with his career total completions at 500, surpassed Brodie Croyle’s old school record of 488. Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide defense held the Tigers’ heralded "Thunder and Lightning" backfield of James Davis and C.J. Spiller to 20 yards. Clemson, which averaged 403 yards the previous season with much of the same offensive personnel, managed only 188 yards of total offense.
The Tide ran the ball easily on Clemson’s defense, which was ninth in the country a season ago. At one point, Alabama had outgained the Tigers 114-1 as the Tide build a 23-3 halftime lead. After driving to field goals by Leigh Tiffin of 54 (the third-longest in Tide history) and 21 yards on their first two offensive possessions of the game, Alabama moved to a 13-0 lead after one quarter when Wilson ended a 45-yard march with a one-yard sneak for a touchdown.
In the second quarter, tight end Nick Walker slipped behind three defenders for a 4-yard touchdown catch from Wilson to put Alabama ahead 20-3 midway through the second quarter. That lead extended to 23-3 on a 34-yard field goal by Tiffin on the final play of the first half.
Clemson burst back on the second half kickoff when C.J. Spiller took the kick back 96 yards for a Clemson touchdown to narrow the Tide lead to 23-10. After Clemson forced an Alabama punt on the ensuing possession, The Tide defense forced the Tigers to punt after three plays, then Alabama’s offense reasserted control of the line of scrimmage.
A 14-play, 67-yard drive ended with a four-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to freshman receiver Julio Jones. Freshman running back Mark Ingram scored a two-point conversion to up the Alabama lead to 31-10 with 4:08 left in the third quarter.
For good measure, Alabama mounted another impressive drive to cap the scoring in the fourth quarter. The Tide marched 78 yards in 14 plays, consuming 8:54 of game time, on the way to a 26-yard field goal by Tiffin for the final margin. Alabama’s dominance was complete, and reflected in two key statistics. The Tide controlled the ball for 41:13 of the game while outrushing the Tigers by a margin of 239-0.
The Crimson Tide have won 12 straight against Clemson, although the teams hadn’t met since 1975.