The 2008 version of Nick Saban's Alabama football program made a memorable first impression by clobbering the #9 ranked Clemson Tigers before a nationally televised audience at the Georgia Dome.
Before and during the contest Alabama was billed to be a "middle of the road" SEC team facing the cream of the Atlantic Coast Conference crop in Clemson.
From this perch, Alabama may be a bit better than a middle of the road SEC team. To say Nick Saban's vaunted #1 ranked recruiting class made a significant contribution to this eye-opening win would be the mother-of-all understatements.
Mark Ingram proved he's worthy of Johnny Musso's #22.
Terrence Cody pushed the interior of Clemson's offensive line all night.
Julio Jones started and looked more-than worthy of a starting spot.
The ACC as a conference looked bad Saturday. From Virginia being blown out at home by a USC team that has had significant injuries to this point and traveled across the country to play to the pre-season pick to win the conference having their heads handed to them by Alabama, it was not a good day to be in the ACC.
There are many voices shouting from the hinterlands today proclaiming Clemson's once again over-rated. As Lee Corso, sporting his Clemson Tiger head, would say, "Not so fast, my friend!"
This Clemson team reminded me of the Miami team that Alabama faced in the Sugar Bowl in 1992. (that is in NO WAY meant to make that old, tired comparison of this year's Alabama defense to that Bill Oliver coached championship defense of 1992) Clemson '08 and Miami '92 had Alabama's offense pound them with the running game. Clemson's defense had as little an idea of who Mark Ingram was as Miami '92's defense did Derrick Lassic. Both had a significant conversion leaving their respective domes.
I don't think there can be any question that Tommy Bowden choked on this game. His deer-in-the-headlights sideline look confirmed to me he tightened up with what I still believe to be a very talented football team. It was very similar to the Johnny Majors coached Tennessee teams that many years faced Alabama with superior squads but inexplicably walked away losers while 'Bama puffed the stogies. In the end Majors was knifed in the back by Phil Fulmer backers due to those choke jobs.
As Nick Saban said afterwards, this is just one game. When we're battling vastly superior competition on the road in conference play, this game will be long forgotten.
We'll now sneak up on no one with our vaunted freshmen.
Those same freshmen will make mistakes that will likely cost us games down the road.
But for today, John Mark Stallings sits at Bryant's right hand and he laughs, claps and queries the Bear on whether the Tulane game will be angel-per-view.