Alabama Football: 30 Greatest Games in Crimson Tide History

Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports /
4 of 31
Alabama Crimson Tide
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama Football Greatest Game

January 1, 1946 – Rose Bowl vs. Southern Cal

Technically, this is the last Rose Bowl appearance for Alabama football. The Crimson Tide did return to Pasadena and the Rose Bowl stadium for the 2009 National Championship game against Texas. The reason 1946 was the Tide’s last is that in 1946, two conferences made a deal to have their champions compete in the Rose Bowl every season. At the time, those two conferences were the Pacific Coast Conference (PCC) and the Big Nine; the PCC became Athletic Association of Universities, the Pac 8, then 10 and now 12; the Big Nine, later became the Big Ten.

The Alabama Crimson Tide impressive Rose Bowl history came to an end. Alabama football had played in the 1926, 1927, 1931, 1935 and 1938 Rose Bowls. The Tide’s record was 4-1-1.

The teams went into the post-season game ranked at No. 3 for the Crimson Tide and No. 11 for the Trojans. Even so, west coast sportswriters predicted a USC victory.

The 1946 Crimson Tide win was a blowout. Two final quarter, meaningless scores by the Trojans prevented a Tide shutout and made the final score almost respectable for USC.

Everything else about the game was an embarrassment for the Trojans. At halftime, the USC offense had a net, minus-24 yards. Before USC finally made a first down in the third quarter, the Crimson Tide lead was 27-0. For the game, USC rushed for just six yards.

Harry Gilmer ran for 116 yards and passed for a touchdown. He was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. Among other solid performances, the only Crimson Tide blemish in the game was an average of 19.8 yards on four punts.

Sadly, though he would return for the 1946 season, Alabama coach, Frank Thomas’s health was already failing late in the 1945 season. He lived several more years but the 1945 SEC Coach of the Year was never healthy after 1945.

Of teams having played in three or more Rose Bowls, the Alabama Crimson Tide has the ‘Granddaddy’s’ best winning percentage.

Final Score – Alabama Crimson Tide 34 – Southern Cal 14