Alabama Football: 30 Greatest Games in Crimson Tide History

Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
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Alabama football
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Alabama Football Greatest Game

January 1, 1993 – Sugar Bowl vs. Miami

An argument can be made the 1993 Sugar Bowl win was the greatest in Alabama Crimson Tide history. The Miami Hurricanes were riding a 29 game win streak and were the defending National Champions ( actually co-Champions with Washington). In effect for the first time in the 1992 season, the Bowl Coalition was an effort to facilitate the two top teams playing for the National Championship. The Coalition morphed into the Bowl Alliance and in the 1998 season the Bowl Championship Series (BCS).

The Hurricanes were an 8.5 point favorite. Many college football fans thought the Tide’s modest passing game and the Canes run defense would result in few Crimson Tide points.

Canes QB, Gino Toretta was the highest-profile player in college football. In the 1992 season, Toretta was a Consensus All-American, and winner of the Davey O’Brien Award, the Maxwell Award, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award and the Heisman Trophy.

Toretta was expected to pick apart the Crimson Tide defense. The prediction could not have been more wrong. Shutting down Toretta began with stuffing the Miami running game. At halftime, the Crimson Tide led just 13-6 but the disparity in the rushing totals was stunning. The Tide gained 152 first-half yards on the ground. The Canes – just six.

Alabama Defensive Coordinator, Bill Oliver had an aggressive plan he intended to use against the Canes in the second half. Instead, he unleashed it early. Talking about it years later, Oliver said,

"Usually I wanted to disguise our intentions. I wanted to disguise when we were going to blitz or drop back in coverage. Our objective in this game was to show them our intentions. We didn’t want to disguise it. We wanted to make (Toretta) nervous."

In a brazen move, Oliver went to six and even seven defensive backs and brought all 11 defenders to within a step or two of the line scrimmage. A few nights before the game, in the New Orleans French Quarter, Miami players and especially the wide receivers had taunted Alabama players. The expletive-filled invective was a challenge to the manhood of the Crimson Tide players.

Adhering to Gene Stallings’ discipline, the Crimson Tide waited until the game to do much talking. Once they started, the Canes had no answers. When Oliver revealed his bold Crimson Tide alignment, the Canes immediately tried to beat it deep. The result was an incompletion. At the line of scrimmage for the next play, Toretta searched for an opening, gave up and called a timeout.

Though the game will forever be known for George Teague catching Lamar Thomas from behind and ripping the ball away from him – Toretta’s confusion at the line of scrimmage was the game’s turning point. He and his team never recovered.

The Canes would end up passing for 278 yards (to 18 yards for the Tide) but Miami could not score from scrimmage. Along with three Toretta interceptions, the Canes lost a fumble. Their only second-half score came from a punt return.

Final Score – Alabama Crimson Tide 34 – Miami Hurricanes 13