04 October 2008
Undefeated and second-ranked Alabama survived three turnovers, a slew of costly penalties, breakdowns in the passing game, missed field goals, blown pass coverages, and a rampant zebra attack to hold on and beat Kentucky 17-14 Saturday in Tuscaloosa. Outmanned Kentucky did little in the contest other than to take advantage of Alabama mistakes.
Alabama fired out of the blocks in impressive fashion, with a 78-yard Glenn Coffee touchdown run and a short Rolando McClain fumble return TD staking Bama to a 14-0 lead over the undefeated Wildcats, the nation's leader in scoring defense coming into the game. For the season, Bama has outscored its foes 88-0 in the first quarter.
The Tide's offense continued to move the ball intermittently for the rest of the game, most successfully on the ground, but could make little of their efforts. Glenn Coffee's 218 rushing yards was the most by an Alabama runner since Shaun Alexander's dominant 291-yard performance against LSU in 1996, but Coffee also fumbled twice inside the Kentucky ten-yard-line.
Meanwhile, Leigh Tiffin missed two makeable field goals, and holding penalties, sacks, and an interception marred Alabama's passing attack. To be fair, John Parker Wilson and Julio Jones were robbed of around 75 yards in passing and receiving yardage by two highly questionable referee calls.
Alabama's defense dominated most of the game, but allowed Kentucky to climb back in the game by suddenly reverting to matador tackling form on back-to-back Kentucky screen passes late in the third quarter that combined for 62 yards and a score. Later, Rashad Johnson made the cardinal mistake of losing deep contain to allow a 48-yard Kentucky TD strike in the game's last minute, making the final score far closer than one would expect based on a comparison of the athletic abilities of the two teams. Kentucky tried for an onside kick after the late score, but the kick sailed out-of-bounds without being touched or even touching the ground.
Despite the late-game defensive breakdowns, Alabama held Kentucky to 276 yards total offense and out-rushed the Wildcats 282-35. Alabama remains undefeated, going to 6-0, and Kentucky dropped to 4-1 but should receive Top 25 consideration after the close road loss.