More Alabama Football Legends, The Best Of Times
In this, and other upcoming articles, I'll go back and look at some of the most successful
times periods in Alabama football history.
While their star has dimmed at times, like every program does, we need to look back to see why Alabama football is a state passion. I hope this helps those unfamiliar with Tide history understand where it's grounded.
1924 was probably one of the most important seasons in Crimson Tide history. Their remarkable defense and impressive offense undoubtedly helped lead to a Rose Bowl invitation after the 1925 season.
Alabama started by shutting out their first six opponents, 219-0. Then Kentucky managed to be the first to cross the goal line.
Despite winning 42-7, the Tide probably thought their next game was nothing to worry about. It's likely they were more concerned about Georgia, their season ending game, and overlooked Centre College.
Centre would show Alabama why they ended up tied at 24 for the best winning percentage that year while the better known Bulldogs would come in tied for number 40.
(Using calculations based upon a minimum of five current Div. 1-A opponents, Centre only qualified from 1919 through 1926. However, they rank 22 out of 148 teams that met those standards in that span.)
Unfortunately, Centre took advantage of the opportunity and shocked Bama back to earth, winning 17-0.
With the next week off, Wallace Wade whipped his team back into shape. The now grounded Tide team showed their true abilities against Georgia, winning 33-0.
At season's end they had a record of 8-1, with seven shutouts. With a scoring total of 294 to 24, they managed an incredible 12.25-1 points ratio. The total points allowed led to a near record 2.66-per game average.
1925 started out where they left off the prior season, with another shutout. Following that 53-0 win over Union they allowed Birmingham Southern a touchdown in a 50-7 win.
Coach Wade took control and made certain that his team would not follow the same path as the year before. With LSU, Sewanee and Georgia Tech ahead they had to be focused every week.
After impressive wins of 42-0 and 27-0 they were held to only 7 points by the Ramblin' Wreck, who failed to score. That game and the next would be played in rainy weather that prohibited Wade's offense to perform at their best.
Next up was Mississippi State, who seemed determined to bring down the unbeaten Tide. Their effort would prove to be the best game Alabama played that year. The weather staunched the Tides offensive stars, Pooley Hubert and Johnny "Mack" Brown.
Alabama would cross the goal line once, with a failed PAT. The "Maroons," as some called Mississippi State at the time, would come close to scoring before the Tide defense rose up. Thus the game was the closest Bama would have that season, winning 6-0.
If Alabama was going to lose that year, it seemed likely to come in their last three games. Kentucky, Florida and Georgia were all that lay ahead at that point.
But the Tide would prove their supremacy against those teams. Three games later and they would all fall, by a total of 92-0. All anyone in Alabama thought was "The season's over." As it stood Bama was 9-0, scoring 277 against 7, or a little less than 40 to 1!
Then came the call from the Rose Bowl Committee. That game was previously covered in superb fashion by Nic Gulas. I won't attempt to do a better job of illustrating it for you, just visit http://bleacherreport.com/users/4892-Nic-Gulas and read it yourself.
I'll just say it was an exiciting game, and the Tide pulled out a narrow victory, 20-19. The final numbers for Alabama's season were 297-26, or over 11 to 1, with a 2.6 ppg allowed.
It would be tough to keep winning, and even tougher to do it the way they had for two years. I'm sure Coach Wade made the team aware of what they had a chance at. Bama could prove that Southern football was capable of what other regions were, and even more.
1926 would be the time when they had their chance. But with Pooley Hubert gone, and Johnny Mack Brown making himself out to be a star of the silver screen, it would be hard.
With Milsaps the opener, Bama would not have much to test their strength against. But before deriding their strength of schedule, remember the times we are talking about.
Railroads are the major mode of travel, and not much had been invested in repairing the southern ones since the Civil War. WWII would come before the railroads were restored to their fullest in the south.
Vanderbilt was next on the schedule, the top Southern school in winning percentage during the 1920's. They were No. 4 overall, just ahead of Tennessee, while Bama came in at number 13. But during this three-year period Alabama was the nations best.
Vandy would be another victim of the nearly unstoppable Tide in 1926, but they would not go down easy. With the Tide's passing attack from '24 and '25 gone, they displayed an impressive running game.
Again, their strength on defense was nearly flawless, but Vandy did score seven points in the final quarter. It would be too little too late, and the Tide prevailed 19-7.
Mississippi State and Georgia Tech were next up, and next down. Although State did manage to score seven points the Tide would score 26.
Although favored to win, Tech would be held scoreless, and fell 21-0. It was the start of five straight shutouts Bama posted that year.
Sewanee was in a position to embarrass Alabama like Centre did, and they nearly pulled it off. The most impressive part of Sewanee's defense came in the fourth quarter. With the game scoreless they managed to hold off a 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line.
In four plays Alabama failed to move the ball. The only score came when the Tide blocked a punt and forced a safety, ending the game 2-0.
LSU, Kentucky, Georgia and Florida finished the schedule, with Georgia being the only one to score. After LSU went down 24-0 Kentucky played Alabama close, with a 14-0 outcome. Florida fell easily, 49-0, and the Bulldogs lost 33-6.
The regular season ended with Alabama undefeated and untied. Despite the close call with Sewanee they had six shutouts and outscored opponents 242-20. Thus came another call from the Rose Bowl, perhaps hoping to show the last game was a fluke.
Alabama's opponent this time would be the Stanford Cardinal, who were 10-0 that year. Again I won't write the details of this game. Mostly because the references for this game are difficult to find and also because the outcome is all that matters.
According to the official Rose Bowl site, Stanford outgained the Tide 305-98, but the game ended in a 7-7 tie. For the year Bama was 9-0-1, scoring 249-27.
At the end of that three-year period Alabama was nearly as close to perfect as possible. The 27-1-1 record was the best in the nation, and led to a .948 win percentage.
Next best were Notre Dame and St. Mary's, who tied for second with 26-3-1 records, or a winning percentage of .883.
But even more impressive to me is the Tide scoring defense of 2.65 per game over the 29 game period. Add the offensive total of 28.96 points per game and it's well over 10 to 1.
I'll cover their other legendary times in upcoming articles, but none will be close to this
one. Not only because of the incredible numbers, but because this three-year span put Alabama in the national spotlight.
It was arguably due to their success then that they, and all of the Southern Conference teams became nationally relevant.
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