On October 5th, 2008, the 4-0 Kentucky Wildcats came to Tuscaloosa to take on the #2 Alabama Crimson Tide. Alabama had started the year ranked #24; but an impressive opening win against then #9 Clemson started an impressive climb for the Tide. Tulane, Western Kentucky, and Arkansas were all dispatched in due course, setting up a top 10 showdown against #3 Georgia on the road. Bama cruised to a 41-30 victory over the Dawgs and jumped up to #2.
While Kentucky was undefeated, their four wins weren't over a very impressive schedule. The Wildcat defense had held opponents to just 22 points over those four games, but the home game for the rising Tide looked to be a relatively easy win.
That held true in the first quarter as Alabama jumped out to an early 14-0 lead behind a 78 yard Glen Coffee touchdown and Rolando McClain's scoop and score. The ease ended there, however.
Leigh Tiffin had already missed one field goal. The Tide drove down inside the Kentucky 10 yard line, but Coffee coughed the ball up. Alabama wouldn't threaten again in the first half.
John Parker Wilson threw an interception on a deep ball on the Tide's first offensive play of the second half, but the Wildcats couldn't do anything with it. The teams traded punts for most of the third quarter.
The Wildcats got the ball inside the Alabama 40 yard line after Marquis Johnson fumbled a punt return, but Kentucky again stalled and turned it over on downs.
Their next drive was more successful, unfortunately.
Mike Hartline threw a 36 yard completion followed by a 26 yarder, and Kentucky was on the board. All of a sudden, it's 14-7 and the Alabama offense hasn't done anything since midway through the second quarter.
After another Alabama punt, the Kentucky offense moved back into Tide territory. Kareem Jackson ended that threat, though, intercepting Hartline. With J.P. Wilson an unimpressive 0-4 with 1 INT in the second half, Bama stuck with the ground game. They drove to the Kentucky 24 yard line; but, again, Tiffin missed a field goal. The Wildcats would do little on the ensuing drive, and Alabama got the ball back on their own 19 yard line with 11:10 left in the game.
Alabama leaned on the run game once more. Coffee was already over 150 yards on the day, and they fed him this drive. He only gained 2 yards on the first play; and, miraculously, Wilson completed his first pass of the second half, 13 yards to Julio Jones for a first down. It was back to the run game after that.
Coffee ground out three straight runs for 4 yards each, good for another first down. He followed that with 5 yards and 4 yards, setting up 3rd and 1. Wilson gained nothing, which set up 4th and 1 on the Kentucky 46 yard line. Wilson handed the ball off to Coffee, who was hit a full yard behind the line of scrimmage. He managed to bounce it right and stretched across for the first down.
They fed Coffee some more, and he picked up 5 yards. Finally, he broke one. On 2nd and 5, Coffee took the hand-off for an inside zone to the left. There was nothing there, so he made a cut and got through on the right. Coffee burst through the secondary before near-tragedy happened. A defensive back punched the ball out at the 12 yard line, and it shot forward to the two. Another defensive back fell on it but, somehow, fortuitously, he couldn't secure it. It squirted to the side and rolled out of bounds. Alabama retained possession back at the 12 yard line. Coffee didn't get another hand off, but he'd done his part. Tiffin comes out a few plays later and makes his first field goal of the day. Alabama is up 17-7, and the drive drained 8:10 off the clock.
Kentucky did score another touchdown, but they failed to recover the onside kick. Alabama hung on for the 17-14 win.
Coffee racked up 219 yards against the Wildcats, the 9th best single game rushing performance in school history. Tiffin went only one-for-three on the night, but he came through in the clutch. He would struggle through the balance of the 2008 season before cementing his legacy with one of the best seasons in Alabama history to help lead the Tide to the 2009 national title.