for this game

Alabama blasts Georgia in SEC rout

Sep 28, 2008 - 4:56 AM ATHENS, Georgia (Ticker) -- Nick Saban needed less than two seasons to return Alabama to national prominence. Georgia received an up-close look at just how far the Crimson Tide have come.

Saban's 10th-ranked Crimson Tide crushed the third-ranked Bulldogs, 41-30, on Saturday in a contest that quickly deteriorated from Southeastern Conference showdown to a blowout.

"It was a great win for our players, fans and university," Saban said. "I'm very proud of how we played. Georgia is a fine team."

Following his controversial move from the NFL's Miami Dolphins in January 2007, Saban coached the Crimson Tide to a disappointing 7-6 record last season. It marked the eighth time in the last 11 seasons that Alabama, once a perennial national title contender, finished with less than eight wins.

Despite having a young roster in the competitive SEC, Alabama (5-0, 2-0 SEC West) has rolled through the first month of this season en route to its best start since 2005. The Crimson Tide are 5-0 for just the second time since 1996, when Gene Stallings roamed the sidelines in Tuscaloosa.

The highly decorated Saban, who guided Louisiana State to the national title in 2003, is calling the shots at Alabama these days - and his latest outstanding team was on full display in a nationally televised contest.

"Alabama did a fine job of preparing and getting after us," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "We had some self-inflicted wounds, but they took it to us - period."

Playing in front of a raucous crowd at Sanford Stadium, the Crimson Tide opened the contest with an 11-play, 80-yard drive capped by freshman Mark Ingram's 7-yard touchdown run.

The march was a harbinger of things to come for Alabama, which scored on its first five offensive possessions to take a 31-0 lead into the break.

"I thought we played really well in the first half," said Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson, who set a school record for career passing yards. "Our execution early was great. I think we were taking what they were giving us."

"In the first half, we probably played the best football we've played this season," Saban added.

Those were telling words from Saban, whose team has outscored its opposition by a whopping margin of 185-67.

Glen Coffee rushed for 86 yards and two TDs while Wilson completed 13-of-16 attempts for 205 yards and a score for Alabama, which snapped a three-game losing streak against the Bulldogs (4-1, 1-1 East).

Wilson has 6,398 career passing yards, eclipsing Brodie Croyle's previous school record of 6,382.

While the contest turned into a laugher for the Crimson Tide, it was anything but humorous for Georgia, which donned its alternate black jerseys and requested that its home fans wear the same color to produce "Blackout" conditions for Alabama.

The Bulldogs saw their 11-game winning streak, the second-longest active run in the nation, come to a disappointing end courtesy of Alabama, which posted its first victory "between the hedges" since 1995.

"This is a big and great win for us," Saban said. "Georgia has a lot of good players and they are coached very well."

The preseason No. 1, Georgia became the third top-five team to suffer an upset this weekend. Top-ranked Southern California was ousted by Oregon State on Thursday, and No. 4 Florida was stunned at home by Mississippi earlier Saturday.

And while those two contests both were decided down the stretch, this game was all but over early. Although Georgia scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns, the final score did not indicate how far apart these rivals were.

"They jumped on us pretty good in the first half," Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno said. "We came in at halftime, adjusted some things and got settled in and started making plays in the second half. It wasn't enough."

"We fought valiantly until the very end, even when it didn't look great," Richt added. "We never gave in. It's just that we were in such a deep hole and we were not getting out of it."

Alabama owned a 10-point cushion early in the second quarter when Coffee scored on a 3-yard run to make it 17-0 with just under 12 minutes remaining in the first half.

Bulldogs wide receiver A.J. Green lost a fumble on the ensuing possession, giving Alabama the ball at the Georgia 33-yard line. Seven plays later, Roy Upchurch scored on a 4-yard run to make it 24-0.

Wilson closed Alabama's impressive first half with a 22-yard TD pass to freshman Julio Jones, who made an over-the-shoulder catch in the back-right corner of the end zone with a defender draped over him.

After finally getting on the scoreboard courtesy of Blair Walsh's 43-yard field goal, Georgia narrowed its deficit to 31-10 on Moreno's 2-yard TD run late in the third quarter.

The Bulldogs made things mildly interesting in the opening moments of the final quarter when Prince Miller broke several tackles to reel off a 92-yard TD on a punt return.

The Crimson Tide put away the contest on their next two possessions, however, as Leigh Tiffin made a 32-yard field goal and Coffee scored on a 12-yard run to make it 41-17 with 4:37 remaining.

Stafford finished 24-of-42 for 274 yards and threw a pair of scoring passes in garbage time, one to Michael Moore and one to Green. With Georgia forced to pass throughout most of the contest, Moreno carried just nine times for 34 yards.