Alabama Football: 30 Greatest Games in Crimson Tide History

Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
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Alabama Crimson Tide
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Alabama Football Greatest Game

January 1, 1962 – Sugar Bowl vs. Arkansas

In 1954 the NCAA re-imposed one-platoon football. One-platoon rules had been lessened during WWII. After the 1954 change, only one player per team could be substituted between plays. It was the 1965 season before the rules changed again to allow unlimited substitution.

The point being, the vaunted Alabama football defense of 1961 was essentially ‘iron man’ football. One example came from quarterback Pat Trammel deciding on an early-down to punt the ball. When quizzed by Bryant on the sidelines, Trammell reportedly said his teammates were not blocking anybody so he wanted to see if they could do better on defense.

Trammell personified what Paul Bryant loved about football. The coach believed Trammell was, in Bryant’s strongest praise, “a winner.” Trammell was neither fast or elusive as a runner. He was at best, an average passer. He was a fearsome leader and usually the toughest guy on any football field.

From Keith Dunnavant’s book, Coach, Bryant described his senior-laden 1961 defense.

"Those guys acted like it was a sin to give up a point."

They did not give up many, just 22 in the regular season. In 1958, when Bryant gave his first team speech to his incoming group of freshmen, he challenged them to give there all and promised if they did, in four years they would leave as Champions. Only 11 of those freshmen lasted through the 1961 season. Bryant’s National Championship claim was realized.

The 1962 Sugar Bowl was a matchup with the No. 9 ranked Arkansas Razorbacks. Arkansas started the season being shut out by No. 9 ranked, Ole Miss. A few weeks later, Texas stomped them in Fayetteville. Late in the season, the Hogs came on strong, winning on the road over Rice and SMU, and finishing the regular season with a win over Texas Tech.

Arkansas had one of the nation’s best in halfback Lance Alworth. He was one of the top running and receiving threats in the nation. Because of Alworth, Arkansas head coach, Frank Broyles was confident his team could score on any defense.

Broyles’ confidence was not warranted. In the second half, the Razorbacks made a field goal. It was the first points scored on the Crimson Tide since October. The Crimson Tide scored only one touchdown. Another one could have been scored near the end, when a Tide player ran out of bounds about a foot from the goal line. One touchdown and a field goal were more than enough.

Frank Broyles gave the game a perfect summation, “We were in it on the scoreboard, but were never in it on the field.”

Final polls did not include bowl games in 1961 season. The Crimson Tide were National Champions before striding on the field at Tulane Stadium. The National Championship was shared with Ohio State.

Final Score – Alabama Crimson Tide 10 – Arkansas 3