Well, Clemsons' "vaunted" defense failed to deliver in prime time last night... Boy, I knew the ACC was poor this year, but Clemson was supposed to be the "cream of the crop"... The top ACC team getting routed by maybe the 5th best team in the SEC.... Not good.
August 31, 2008
Clemson University routed by Alabama
Tigers fail to live up to No. 9 ranking
By Ed McGranahan
ATLANTA -- Clemson failed to present a shred of evidence to justify its lofty preseason ranking Saturday as No. 24 Alabama scored on five of six possessions in the first half to beat the ninth-ranked Tigers 34-10.
Under the scrutiny of a national television audience and a crowd of 70,097 in the Georgia Dome, Clemson played an entire game without gaining a single rushing yard.
Alabama rolled up 419 yards, 34 first downs and punted only twice.
“We just got whipped about every way,” head coach Tommy Bowden said. “I don’t think we’ve been beaten that bad physically in at least three years.
“Obviously we’re not the ninth-rated team in the country.”
The Tigers gave up the ball on their second play from scrimmage, didn’t log a first down or cross midfield until the waning minutes of the first quarter and scored their first points of the season on a field goal from the Crimson Tide 16-yard line after a first down at the 14.
“We were not productive and created no momentum and did nothing,” said Bowden, whose team plays its first home game next Saturday against The Citadel. “It surprised me we couldn’t stop them all night.”
The Crimson Tide used a 20-point halftime lead as the springboard. Leigh Tiffin kicked field goals of 54, 27, 34 and 26 yards, and quarterback John Parker Wilson passed for two touchdowns and ran for a third.
It was the 12th straight Alabama win in a series that began at the turn of the last century and returned from a 33-year hiatus in a made-for-television match that included the ESPN GameDay set and an unprecedented demand for tickets.
Fans on MLK Boulevard said seats in the upper deck were selling for a minimum of $200 five hours before kickoff.
For Alabama, it was a marvelous debut in head coach Nick Saban’s second season after an NFL sabbatical.
As the evening took shape, it appeared he made better use of the six months since the game was officially announced than Bowden, who began his 10th season at Clemson trying to restore credibility in the proud program.
Wilson peeled and sliced the Clemson defense as if it were a basket of ripe peaches, completing 22 of 30 for 180 yards. Mark Ingram rushed for 96 and Glen Coffee 90. Tight end Nick Walker finished with seven catches for 67 yards, finding plenty of space in the area just beyond the defensive line -- where linebackers roam.
The Tigers offered little bang for the buck behind an inexperienced offensive line that suffered a significant loss when junior guard Barry Humphries was knocked out of the game in the second quarter.
James Davis and C.J. Spiller totaled 20 rushing yards on eight carries, but the line couldn’t be blamed for the Tigers’ earliest gaffes.
Down 3-0 barely five minutes into the season, they made two mistakes from the outset. On their first play of the season, quarterback Cullen Harper was late and short to a wide-open Aaron Kelly down the sideline in front of the Clemson bench.
Freshman running back Jamie Harper fumbled at the Alabama 31 setting up Tiffin’s second field goal.
Harper and receiver Tyler Grisham misconnected on third down their next possession and Wilson got the final 3 feet in a 45-yard drive for a 13-0 advantage.
Fueled by a 47-yard pass to Jacoby Ford to the Alabama 25, the Tigers discovered a temporary spark late in the first quarter, but it fizzled quickly and Mark Buchholz kicked a 33-yard field goal to shave the lead to 10 in the first minute of the second quarter.
Troubled by the Alabama pass rush and loathe to manufacture a run game, the Tigers never discovered any continuity and occasionally seemed out of sync.
Alabama drove 83 yards in 14 plays on its next possession for a 20-3 lead with 6:01 to play in the second quarter -- Wilson to Walker for 3 yards -- then finished off the half with a short drive for Tiffin’s third field goal.
Spiller provided a ray of hope by returning the opening kickoff of the second half 96 yards for a touchdown, but Wilson hit freshman Julio Jones for a 3-yard touchdown with 4:08 remaining in the third quarter to cap a 67-yard drive.
Mark Ingram darted around end for the two-point conversion and the 31-10 lead with 4:08 to play in the quarter.
Tiffin’s final field goal with 6:06 to play was the exclamation point.
Harper completed 20 of 34 passes for 188 yards but was sacked three times, and reducing Clemson to a one-dimensional offense much of the second probably played to Alabama’s strength, Saban said.