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, 1966 – Orange Bowl vs. Nebraska

The 1964 Alabama Crimson Tide season ended with another National Championship. Despite losing to Texas on a controversial call in the 1965 Orange Bowl, the Crimson Tide shared national honors with Arkansas and Notre Dame. Notre Dame does not claim this National Championship. The Crimson Tide was chosen No. 1 in the AP and UPI polls. Final rankings did not include bowl games in the 1964 season.

Alabama football had two blemishes in the 1965 season. In the opener, Georgia topped the Tide and a well-designed flea-flicker play. It provided the Bulldogs with the winning touchdown in a Crimson Tide 17-16 loss. The next day, newspaper photos clearly showed the play should have been blown dead after a small gain. The Georgia receiver who caught the pass and made a lateral to another Georgia player had a knee on the ground before the lateral. The officials missed it. The other disappointing result was a 7-7 tie to Tennessee in Birmingham.

Recovering from those performances, the Crimson Tide went into the 1966 Orange Bowl ranked No. 4. The Nebraska Cornhuskers were ranked No. 3. In the 1965 season, AP final rankings were made after bowl games. The three teams ranked above the Crimson Tide were undefeated. Along with the Huskers, Arkansas was No. 2 and Michigan State was No.1.

On New Years Day, Michigan State, in the Rose Bowl, lost to UCLA  and Arkansas, in the Cotton Bowl, lost to LSU. New Years’ night in Miami, the college football world was treated to a National Championship matchup.

Nebraska was a much bigger team than the Crimson Tide. All the Tide’s upper-classmen, linemen weighed less than 200 pounds.

Quarterback Steve Sloan and receiver Ray Perkins were the offensive stars of the game. Sloan passed to Perkins for two touchdowns, Another Sloan to Perkins connection set up a Crimson Tide field goal. Perkins had 10 receptions in the game setting an Orange Bowl record. Steve Sloan also set a new Orange Bowl record. His 296 passing yards were 20 more than the record set by Joe Namath the year before.

Early in the second quarter, the game was tied 7-7. The Tide exploded with 17 points, going into halftime with a 24-7 lead. The Cornhuskers scored 21 second-half points to 15 points for the Crimson Tide. The last score of the game, by Nebraska, only slimmed the decisive Crimson Tide margin from 18 points to 11 points. The Crimson Tide finished with 512 total offensive yards.

Paul Bryant gained a third Alabama football National Championship in five seasons. The UPI rankings, not following the AP Poll change, named Michigan State a National Champion.

Final Score – Alabama Crimson Tide 39 – Nebraska Cornhuskers 28