Alabama Football: Tide and Southern Mississippi have a long history

Christion Jones, Alabama football (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Christion Jones, Alabama football (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The long history of Alabama football and Southern Mississippi is not typical. Despite being one-sided, games in the series have been momentous.

When the Southern Miss Golden Eagles engage the Alabama football team Saturday morning, it will be the 44th meeting between the two schools. That is a long series for an Alabama Crimson Tide opponent who has never been a member of the SEC.

Given the short distance between the two schools – Hattiesburg, MS to Tuscaloosa is only 180 miles – proximity has made the games convenient. Somewhat oddly, all the games have taken place in the state of Alabama.  Besides Tuscaloosa, games have been played in Birmingham, Montgomery and Mobile. Southern Mississippi has only won five of the games but it does lead in games played in Montgomery, Al, 2-1. The complete series record is heavy with Crimson Tide wins, 36-5-2.

Two of the five Crimson Tide losses had huge impacts on the coaching futures on two very different Alabama football head coaches. The Crimson Tide had a Tuscaloosa win streak of 57 games between 1963 and 1982. Southern Miss ended it on a November afternoon in Bryant-Denny. The 38-29 loss to the Golden Eagles was a contributing factor in Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant deciding to end his coaching career.

Years later, in 2000, Southern Miss shut-out the Crimson Tide 21-0. The Alabama football team was completely outclassed in the game and it was a strong indicator Tide head coach, Mike Dubose had to go.

Some pro football greats have played for Southern Miss against the Tide. Probably the most famous of them being former Green Bay Packers QB, Brett Favre and former Oakland Raiders punter, Ray Guy.

Favre was a third-team backup in 1987. As Favre remembers he wanted to play until he saw Derrick Thomas and the Tide defense dominate,

"I was 17 years old, and when we were down 38-0, I said I hope they don’t put me in. We were getting killed."

Favre was the starter and team leader for Southern Miss, four years later, when it upset the Crimson Tide in 1990, 27-24.

No review of the series is complete without mentioning Tyrone Prothro’s ‘The Catch’ in 2005. It has been described as one of the greatest catches in the history of college football.

Rise early Crimson Tide fans, make that REAL early for those traveling to Tuscaloosa for the 11:01 AM, CST kickoff. ESPN2 has the game and it will also be streamed by ESPN.

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One more historical note pertaining to Bear Bryant. Bryant always called the school from Hattiesburg, Mississippi Southern. He was not entirely wrong. Before USM became known as the Golden Eagles, the school was once named Mississippi Southern.