There is an entire generation of football fans who know only of Alabama’s dominance of the college football landscape and the inevitability that is Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide. But this decade of dominance had to start somewhere, and that was with Clemson in 2008.
The Tigers were a top-10 team returning what many considered the best running back duo in the nation in James Davis and C.J. Spiller, while Alabama was coming off of a fairly disappointing 2007 in Nick Saban’s first year... Though a monstrous recruiting class had increased fan expectations a bit.
Bur rather than ease into the season with a tough, but hard-fought loss, Alabama blasted onto the national scene with a 34-10 drubbing of the Tigers.
The hungry Alabama defense totally shut out the dynamic Clemson offense, with the only touchdown of the night coming on a kick return from Spiller.
True freshman Mark Ingram trucked every Clemson defender at least twice on his way to 100 rushing yards in his first game, Donta Hightower recovered a fumble, Mark Barron killed a man on special teams, and Julio Jones caught a touchdown. It was a sign of things to come as the talented freshman class broke into the forefront of the national consciousness.
Also, tight end Nick Walker led Alabama in receiving that day. Clemson never has been able to figure out how to cover tight ends wearing #88.
A month later, Alabama had climbed up to #8 overall and was scheduled to travel to Athens to face arguably the top team in the nation in Georgia. The Bulldogs had superstars at QB and RB with Matthew Stafford and Knowshown Moreno, and a true freshman star receiver in A.J. Green who was a direct rival to Julio Jones for his entire career.
With the game set to be a colossal matchup, the Bulldogs went with their alternate black uniform and asked all of their fans to dress in black. Over the past few years, that strategy had been undefeated.
Alabama, though, absolutely shellacked the Bulldogs to the tune of 31-0 in the first half on the backs of a series of defensive stops, interceptions, and an inevitable offense before closing the half with a dagger to Julio Jones in the back of the endzone. To their credit, Georgia pulled off a punt return touchdown and a couple of garbage time scores with an onside kick to make the final score look slightly more respectable, but the Alabama run game chewed up enough clock and scored enough points that Georgia never had a chance.
With these two wins, the nation was officially on Alabama watch, and 13 years later, they haven’t stopped watching.
13 days to kickoff. Roll Tide!