(Saturday, August 30th)
Final Score: (24) Alabama 34, (9) Clemson 10
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - John Parker Wilson went 22-of-30 for 180 yards and two touchdowns to lead the 24th-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide to a 34-10 victory over the ninth-ranked Clemson Tigers at the Georgia Dome.
Mark Ingram ran for 96 yards and Glen Coffee ran for another 90 for Alabama (1-0), which beat Colorado in the Independence Bowl to close out its 2007 season. The offense was able to control the ball for an astounding 41:13.
"I like our players to have confidence. I didn't see anybody scared out there. I didn't see any fear," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. "We're capable of doing more and better. We have to get players to be better, nobody can be satisfied with a one-game performance."
Highly touted freshman Julio Jones caught a touchdown pass in his first collegiate game, and Nick Walker hauled in a career-high seven passes for 67 yards and a score. The Alabama defense held the Tigers rushing attack to zero yards, allowing only 188 yards of total offense for the game.
"We really want to take care of the ball, make good decisions, (and) I think I did that," Wilson said. "I didn't put us in any bad situations and the way our defense was playing, the way we run the ball, that's what we hope to do."
Clemson's rushing duo of C.J. Spiller and James Davis combined for only 20 yards, as the Tigers failed to score an offensive touchdown. Spiller provided the only score for Clemson, returning a kickoff for a touchdown.
"We got whipped about every way you can get whipped," Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden said. "We haven't been beaten like that in three years."
Cullen Harper completed 20-of-34 passes for 188 yards while throwing one interception for Clemson (0-1), which finished up last season with an overtime defeat to Auburn in the Chik-Fil-A Bowl.
"Nothing really caught me off guard, they just came out and dominated the football game," Harper said. "We didn't make plays when they were there. It's just a disappointing loss, and we've got to put it behind us."
Alabama took an early 6-0 lead with just over seven minutes in the first quarter on a pair of Leigh Tiffin field goals. He hit a career-long 54-yarder on the opening drive and, following a Clemson fumble, punched a 21-yarder through the uprights with just over seven minutes to go in the quarter.
After a three-and-out, the Tide got the ball back at Clemson's 46 with 5:15 left in the first. Wilson hit Mike McCoy on a nine-yard strike, and Ingram rushed on the next three plays for 26 yards, down to the 11-yard line. Coffee took the next two rushes down to the one, and Wilson sneaked across the goal- line to complete the 2:24 drive for a 13-0 advantage.
The Tigers finally got some offense going late in the first quarter. Backed up to their own 23 after a penalty, Jacoby Ford rushed for five yards and then caught a 47-yard strike up the middle to take it to the Tide's 25.
Two plays later Spiller took it to the 14 on an eight-yard scamper, but Brandon Deaderick backed Clemson to the 26 on a sack of Harper. After a gain of 10, Mark Buchholz made a 33-yard field goal to make it a 13-3 game with 14:17 left in the second quarter.
Wilson orchestrated a masterful 82-yard drive on 14 plays in 8:16. He systematically drove the team down the field, highlighted by a 22-yard pass to Walker on third-and-two from Clemson's 47 and culminating with a four-yard touchdown completion to Walker to put the Tide up 20-3 with 6:01 left in the first half.
Tiffin added a 34-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to give the Tide a 23-3 halftime lead.
Spiller started the second half with a bang, returning the opening half kickoff 96 yards for the touchdown, pulling the Tigers within 13.
The Tide, starting on their own 33, again marched down the field as Coffee had rushes of five, nine and five yards to help get to the Clemson 44. Wilson found his favorite third-down target, Walker, on a 12-yard completion on third-and-six from the Clemson 35 to keep the drive alive.
Ingram gained 12 yards on the next three plays to get down to the 11, and Walker finished the 14-play, 67-yard drive three plays later by finding Jones for a four-yard touchdown. Ingram ran in for a two-point conversion to give Alabama a 31-10 advantage with 4:03 left in the third.
Tiffin added a 26-yard field goal with 3:39 left in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring at 34-10.
Alabama leads the all-time series 12-3...Clemson's No. 9 ranking in the AP Poll is the highest preseason ranking for the school since 1991, when they were also ranked No. 9 to start the season...Tiffin's 54-yard field goal is the third longest in school history...Wilson now has 500 passing completions in his Alabama career, passing Brodie Croyle for most all-time.
08/31 03:17:41 ET