Alabama Football: 30 Greatest Games in Crimson Tide History

Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
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Alabama Football Greatest Game

January 2, 1978 – Sugar Bowl vs. Ohio State

The 1977 season was another one of the ‘what might have been’ seasons for the Crimson Tide. Ultimately, a September 17, one-touchdown loss in Lincoln, NE cost the Tide the National Championship.

The weather was so hot in Nebraska, Bear Bryant almost passed out in the visiting team locker room. The Cornhuskers were coming off a shocking loss to Washington State in the season-opener. The Crimson Tide outgained Nebraska with 430 yards of offense. Nebraska won the turnover battle by two with the Tide throwing five interceptions.

An October 21-20 win over then, No. 1 ranked Southern Cal thrust the Tide back into the national championship hunt.

Going into the Sugar Bowl, the Crimson Tide was ranked No. 3 and the opponent, the Ohio State Buckeyes were ranked No. 9.

In the 1960s and 1970s, there was not another pair of coaches more committed to tough, hard-hitting, physical football than Paul Bryant and Ohio State’s Woody Hayes. Bryant was confident his Tide was more physical than the Buckeyes. The Tide’s plan according to Tide great, Dwight Stephenson

"was to take it right to them"

Jeff  Rutledge threw only 11 passes for the Crimson Tide. The Tide offense was hampered by 10 fumbles, though only two were turnovers. The run-oriented approach racked up 389 yards of offense. Only once was the Crimson Tide forced to punt. Ohio State did not score until the fourth quarter.

The Crimson Tide finished No. 2 in the 1977 AP Poll. After the Sugar Bowl, Woody Hayes said,

"If Alabama isn’t No. 1, then nobody ever has been."

Final Score – Alabama Crimson Tide 35 – Ohio State 6