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 2, 1967 – Sugar Bowl vs. Nebraska

Older Alabama Crimson Tide fans will never forget or forgive the 1966 season. Paul Bryant had one of his best teams and after going undefeated, should have been a three-peat National Champion.

Instead, Notre Dame and Michigan State shared the title. The defending Champion, Crimson Tide was preseason No.1 in the AP Poll. The Tide’s 1966 schedule did not begin until Sept. 24. When the first poll of the regular season was released, the Crimson Tide had dropped to No. 3. Despite not losing a game, the Crimson Tide would bounce up and down at No. 3 or No. 4 throughout the regular season.

In the last regular-season game for Michigan State and the next-to-last for Notre Dame, the two teams met in Lansing. Both coaches had fourth-quarter chances to win the game. Instead, they chose to play for a tie. Notre Dame, Head Coach, Ara Parseghian took most of the heat.

Writing for Sports Illustrated, the esteemed Dan Jenkins said the Irish “took the easy way out.”

With the ‘Game of the Century’ in Lansing ended in widespread dissatisfaction, Alabama was a strong contender for a three-peat. After a late November loss, Nebraska had dropped from No. 4 to No. 6. Neither the Spartans or the Irish chose to play a bowl game.

With the Spartans and Irish idle on New Year’s Day, national attention was focused on the Crimson Tide. Alabama football fans were confident a decisive Sugar Bowl win would push the Tide above the once-tied teams.

One highly ranked team rarely beats another highly ranked team by four touchdowns. The Alabama Crimson Tide almost did – technically the winning margin was three touchdowns and two field goals.

The Tide’s first play from scrimmage was a 45-yard pass from Kenny Stabler to Ray Perkins. Stabler would complete 12-of-18 passes in the game for 218 yards. He rushed for 38 more.

Pre-game predictions gave the Huskers an advantage over the smaller Crimson Tide. The Nebraska power rushing attack was expected to feast on the Tide defense when running outside the tackles. After the game, the Tuscaloosa News quoted Nebraska coach, Bob Devaney,

"Alabama stopped our wide stuff. We couldn’t go outside on them at all."

The game was 24-0 at halftime. The Tide added a third-quarter field goal, making the score 27-0. The two teams traded fourth-quarter touchdowns. Les Kelley, Kenny Stabler, Wayne Trimble and Ray Perkins scored touchdowns for the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Devaney offered an accurate summation.

"They forced us to play catchup. I think they whipped us individually in the first half. We didn’t expect they could run against our linemen like they did."

Devaney called the 1966 Crimson Tide a better team than the 1965 National Champions, offensively and defensively.

The AP Poll voters disagreed. The UPI National Championship had already been determined by the coaches before the bowl games. Even with a decisive Sugar Bowl win, AP Poll voters chose Notre Dame No. 1. The Irish and Michigan State shared the 1966 National Championship.

Final Score – Alabama Crimson Tide 34 – Nebraska 7