Alabama Hosts Mississippi State
Nov. 10, 2008
ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (10-0) vs. MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS (3-6)
TODAY’S GAME: The University of Alabama football team returns home to begin a two-game homestand that will close out the 2008 regular season. The top-ranked Crimson Tide host the Mississippi State Bulldogs in a SEC West showdown at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The game is slated to kickoff at 6:45 p.m. (CST) and will be televised nationally by ESPN with Mike Patrick, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe calling the action. The Bulldogs are 3-6 on the season and coming off of a bye week after a 14-13 loss against Kentucky on Nov. 1.
HEAD COACH Nick Saban: Alabama head coach Nick Saban (Kent State, 1973) is in his second season with the Crimson Tide. He was named the school’s 27th head coach on Jan. 3, 2007. Saban has compiled a 108-48-1 (.691) record as a collegiate head coach, including an 17-6 (.739) mark at Alabama and a 10-0 record in 2008. He captured his 100th career victory in week two against Tulane and coached his 150th game as a collegiate head coach in week three vs. Western Kentucky. Saban led LSU to a 13-1 record and the BCS National Championship in 2003. Overall, Saban has coached three conference championship teams (1990 Mid-American, 2001 SEC and 2003 SEC) and nine of his 12 teams have played in post-season bowl games and his 2008 team is qualified for a bowl. Saban is the only current Football Bowl Subdivision coach to coach for at least 10 years and have never suffered a losing season. For more information on Coach Saban, please see pages 12-13 of this notes package.
RANKINGS: Alabama remains No. 1 in this week’s Associated Press poll and USA Today Coaches poll after the Crimson Tide recorded a 27-21 overtime win over No. 15 LSU in Baton Rouge. The Tide also held their top spot in the Bowl Championship Series standings. Alabama’s current stint at No. 1 in the Associated Press football poll is the first since the final AP poll of the 1992 season after the Crimson Tide knocked off Miami 34-13 in the 1993 Sugar Bowl. The last time the Crimson Tide was ranked atop the AP poll during the regular season (prior to the LSU game) was the ninth week (Oct. 26-Nov. 1) of the 1980 regular season. UA has a 20-5 (.800) all-time record as the nation’s top-ranked team.
TIDE RANKED NO. 1: Alabama is ranked No. 1 in this week’s Associated Press football poll for the second straight week. Prior to the LSU game, it was the first time the Tide had been at the top since the final AP poll of the 1992 season after the Crimson Tide knocked off Miami 34-13 in the 1993 Sugar Bowl. The last time the Crimson Tide was ranked atop the AP poll during the regular season was the ninth week (Oct. 26-Nov. 1) of the 1980 regular season. The Tide has a 20-5 (.800) all-time record as the nation’s top-ranked team. Alabama was ranked No. 1 for eight straight weeks during the 1980 season, with its last No. 1 ranking coming prior to 6-3 loss to Mississippi State at Mississippi Memorial Stadium in Jackson on Nov. 1, 1980. The loss to MSU ended Alabama’s school and SEC record 28-game winning streak.
HISTORY OF NO. 1 RANKINGS: The Mississippi State game will mark Alabama’s 26th game when sitting atop the Associated Press college football poll. The Crimson Tide’s first regular-season No. 1 ranking came during the 1961 season after a 10-0 win over Georgia Tech at Birmingham’s Legion Field. The Tide then defeated Auburn 34-0 on Dec. 2, 1961, before a 10-3 win over Arkansas in the 1962 Sugar Bowl to win the national championship. UA was ranked No. 1 three times during the 1962 regular season, posting a 2-1 record. The Tide suffered a 7-6 loss to Georgia Tech on Nov. 17, 1962, at Grant Field in Atlanta and would not be ranked No. 1 again until after the 1964 regular season. The No. 1 ranked Crimson Tide fell 21-17 to Texas in the 1965 Orange Bowl. Alabama was ranked No. 1 two times in 1973, beating Auburn 35-0 at Legion Field on Dec. 1 and then losing to Notre Dame 24-23 in the Sugar Bowl. The 1978 season marked the only time Alabama was the No.1 team in the preseason poll. The Tide opened the year with wins over Nebraska and Missouri before losing to Southern California at Legion Field to end its run at No. 1. Alabama won its final nine games in 1978, including a 14-7 win over Penn State in the Jan. 1, 1979, Sugar Bowl. Alabama ascended back into the No.1 spot in the AP poll after winning its first five games of the 1979 season. The Tide played six games as the No. 1 ranked team in 1979 before slipping to No. 2 after a 25-18 win over arch-rival Auburn to end the season. Alabama beat Arkansas 24-9 in the 1980 Sugar Bowl for the national title. After opening the 1980 season as the No. 2 ranked team, Alabama’s 26-3 win over Georgia Tech at Legion Field vaulted the Tide to No. 1 where they remained for seven weeks until a loss to Mississippi State. Alabama has been ranked atop the Associated Press poll at the end of the season six times, including the final AP poll in 1961, 1964, 1965, 1978, 1979 and 1992.
NEW BCS RANKINGS OUT: Alabama garnered the No. 1 position in the Bowl Championship Series standings for the second straight week on Sunday, Nov. 9, when the fourth BCS rankings of the season were released. The Crimson Tide have a BCS average of .9814 with Texas Tech (.9715) ranked second and Texas (.8798) ranked third. The Tide is No. 1 in the Harris Interactive poll, the USA Today Coaches poll and second in computer rankings.
SEC WESTERN DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP: Alabama’s 27-21 victory over LSU clinched Alabama’s first SEC Western Division championship for Alabama since 1999. The victory secures a berth in the 2008 Southeastern Conference Championship Game in Atlanta, scheduled for Saturday, December 6, with kickoff slated for 3 p.m. (CT). CBS will televise the SEC Championship Game to a national audience. The Western Division Championship by Alabama is the Crimson Tide’s sixth since expansion created the divisional format in 1992. Alabama also won division titles in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996 and 1999.
MISSISSIPPI STATE SERIES: Alabama holds a 71-18-3 (.788) all-time lead over Mississippi State in a series that dates back to the 1896 season. The Mississippi State series is the longest running series in the Alabama record book. The two border rivals, whose campuses are just 82 miles apart, are meeting for the 93rd time this weekend in Tuscaloosa. Alabama has played more games (92) and has more wins (71) against Mississippi State than any other opponent on record. The 2008 season will mark the 61st consecutive year these two teams have met on the gridiron, having played every year since 1948.
JOHNSON NAMED NATIONAL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Alabama senior safety Rashad Johnson was named the Walter Camp Foundation National Defensive Player of the Week, after a school-record tying three interceptions in a 27-21 overtime win over LSU in Baton Rouge Saturday. Johnson finished the game with four tackles, three interceptions and one tackle for loss. He had 64 yards in interception returns, including a 54-yard touchdown that tied the game at 14-14 in the second quarter. He tied an Alabama single-game record for interceptions with three vs. LSU, equaling the mark held by Bobby Wilson vs. Georgia in 1951, Dicky Thompson vs. Mississippi in 1966, Jeremiah Castille vs. Tennessee in 1982 and Kevin Jackson vs. Georgia in 1995. All three interceptions directly led to points. His first interception, on LSU’s third offensive play at the Tigers’ 15-yard line, led to a 1-yard sneak by quarterback John Parker Wilson. Johnson also intercepted a third-down pass in the end zone in overtime to set up the Tide’s game-winning drive.
PONTIAC GAME-CHANGING PERFORMANCE: Johnson’s overtime interception is one of four nominees for this week’s Pontiac Game-Changing Performance, announced on ESPN’s College Football Final Saturday night. Tide fans can vote at pontiac.com/ncaa, where they can view video clips of the four finalists and vote for Johnson. The winner will be announced on ESPN on Thursday, Nov. 13 and the winning school will win $5,000 for its general scholarship fund. At the end of the season fans will decide who will win the Pontiac Game Changing Performance of the Year and $100,000.
NEXT GAME: Alabama closes out the 2008 regular season with in-state rival Auburn at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Nov. 29. The SEC Western Division Champion Crimson Tide will then participate in their first SEC Championship Game since 1999. The Tide will face Florida on Dec. 6 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.