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Alabama Football: The 10 Biggest Bowl Wins in Tide History

Larry BurtonSenior Writer IDecember 11, 2011

Alabama Football: The 10 Biggest Bowl Wins in Tide History

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    Larry Burton (Syndicated Writer) No team in college football has played in more bowl games or won more bowl games than the University of Alabama.

    With 13 national titles, it is hard to narrow down just 10 bowl games that define the school and could be marked as "Biggest Bowl Wins," but this article will make that attempt.

    And no other school may make the claim that their ten biggest bowl wins all resulted in a national championship. That may be something that makes Alabama fans both proud and tough to be around.

    We'll start with No. 10 and work our way up to the most important bowl win of all time.

    As always, we invite your comments below. Please let us know if you agree or disagree and which bowl wins you feel were left out or underrated.

10. The 1942 Cotton Bowl

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    Alabama had lost two games that year, and many had written off the Crimson Tide as a good team but not the best Alabama team in a few years.

    Still, some believed that this team was just a ball bounce here or there from greatness and paired them up in a game with Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl to see if how they could match up to perhaps one of the best teams in college football that year.

    The Aggies were a huge favorite in the game, but Alabama simply came in and steamrolled the Aggies in front of an almost entire Texas A&M fanbase before putting in their entire third-string, which allowed the Aggies a few late face-saving touchdowns.

    They were blowing them out 29-7 until the third-string came in. Up to that point the defense forced five fumbles and seven interceptions in a display of brutal domination.

    Voters were so impressed that the Tide jumped the Aggies to win a national championship.

9. 1980 Sugar Bowl: A Back-to-Back National Championship

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    This was the third and last Sugar Bowl that Major Ogilvie ran for a touchdown in, and he did it twice in this game, including the famous "Over the Top" dive from 1 yard out that was immortalized on canvas by Daniel Moore.

    This was an important bowl win for the Tide in that it not only won them another national championship, but also gave them a back-to-back championship.

    The final score of 24-9 was never that close in reality as the Tide dominated the Razorbacks in this one.

    In historical context, it also marked the last national championship won by legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant.

8. 1962 Sugar Bowl: Climax for the Best Defense of All-Time

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    The 1961 team experienced a special year. The Tide was led by one of coach Paul "Bear" Bryant's favorite players of all time, Pat Trammel. The defense was led by Lee Roy Jordan and two-way lineman Billy Neighbors.

    That team outscored its opponents that season 297-25. That's allowing an average of just 2.25 points a game, a simply staggering feat.

    Only one opponent scored a touchdown on them all year long, and that was the highest score they allowed an opponent all that season. In that game, they beat North Carolina State 26-7.

    In the Sugar Bowl, Arkansas was the unlucky victim, and Alabama turned the defense loose on them to win 10-3 in front of 82,910 Sugar Bowl attendees.

    It ended not just an 11-0 season, but another national championship that was Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant's first at Alabama.

7. 1979 Sugar Bowl: The Goal Line Stand

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    This was not supposed to be a national championship season for Alabama after losing a game early to USC 24-14. Most thought the Crimson Tide were finished in the race for a championship.

    But they fought hard the rest of the year and were invited to be the victims that No. 1 Penn State would play in the 1979 Sugar Bowl.

    This was supposed to be the best team Joe Paterno had ever coached, but the Alabama team had different ideas.

    It was a close contest, right down to the end, where Alabama held Penn State from 1st-and-goal four times to secure the win 14-7 in one of most iconic moments in Alabama football history, the goal line stand.

    That stand won Alabama another national championship and helped end the decade of the '70s with Alabama being the premier program in America.

6. 1927 Rose Bowl: Proving the Tide Was for Real

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    The year before, just to prove that claims that "Southern schools" were far inferior to the powerhouse teams of the North and West, Alabama was invited to the Rose Bowl, where it pulled a major upset and won.

    To prove that was just a fluke, they invited Alabama back in 1927 to face what sportswriters were saying was the finest football team ever to play the game, the 1926 Stanford Cardinals.

    Alabama wasn't supposed to have a chance in this game, and sportswriters from everywhere but the Southeast thought that this game would end any controversy over the parity of Southern teams like Alabama with the real thoroughbred teams of the West and North.

    Stanford indeed dominated the game all day long, but Alabama's defense always toughened up near the goal line. Despite the difference in yardage, it was a 7-0 game right until the end of the game when Alabama blocked a punt that set up their first score to make it 7-6.

    The two-point conversion would not come into play for another 32 years, so as Alabama lined up for the extra point, something that Stanford was great at blocking, Emile Barnes of Alabama shouted "Signals off!" as they came to the line.

    Stanford took that to mean that Alabama was going to change the play and relaxed. Instead, Alabama promptly snapped and kicked the extra point to tie the game.

    That tie not only got Alabama another national championship, but it was the first radio broadcast of a bowl game and made Alabama an instant media darling across the country.

5. 1993 Sugar Bowl: First National Championship Post "Bear" Bryant

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    Alabama was supposed to be the victim for No. 1 Miami to beat up on in the 1993 Sugar Bowl, in what was supposed to be another national championship season for the Miami Hurricanes.

    All week long Alabama players endured trash talking and big claims by members of the Hurricane team.

    But when game time came around, Alabama mashed the Hurricanes into the turf of the Sugar Bowl like someone stepping on a roach.

    The 34-13 beatdown was actually much worse than the score indicated, and it marked both the first post "Bear" Bryant national championship and the beginning of the end for the Miami Hurricanes as a national power.

    It was Gene Stalling's first and only national championship.

4. 1931 Rose Bowl: No Tricks, but a Stomping

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    Ever since the 1927 Rose Bowl, Northern and Western sports writers had been lamenting how Alabama "tricked" Stanford on an extra point play to tie the game.

    They didn't feel the Tide had proved that the first Rose Bowl was anything but a fluke, so when Washington State had a team that most thought was unbeatable, the Rose Bowl Committee once again turned to Alabama to once and for all end the talk of "upstart" Southern teams being as good as the Northern and Western champions.

    But instead of being the lamb led to the slaughter, Alabama turned on Stanford and crushed them in front of an unbelieving crowd of mostly Washington State Cougar fans.

    It was Wallace Wade's last appearance as a coach in the Rose Bowl and brought Alabama yet another national championship.

    It also marked the end of the Wallace Wade era, and what a era it was.

    These first three Rose Bowl wins put Alabama on the national radar, started bringing in students from across the nation and cemented the Crimson Tide as a national power in college football, on par with any of the other great ones.

3. 2010 BCS Championship Game at Rose Bowl Stadium: A New Era Begins

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    Alabama had a chance to end its longest drought in years since the last national championship-winning season in 1992, and it accomplished it.

    It also had fans remembering all the other times this team had visited the Rose Bowl and brought home national championships. The setting is even immortalized in the Alabama fight song, "Remember the Rose Bowl, we'll win then."

    And just as important was the beginning of what Alabama fans hope is the beginning of a new era of championships under head coach Nick Saban.

    The 37-21 win was not as close as the score indicated, and Alabama dominated the game.

2. 1935 Rose Bowl: A Dominating Team and Frank Thomas' First Championship

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    Prior to the game, Stanford players had been telling the press that "those farm boys" from Alabama were lucky to have had a trick play work out for them to tie the Stanford team in the 1927 Rose Bowl. They said that no tricks could save them this time.

    Coach Wallace Wade, in his first appearance at the Rose Bowl, was not about to let his players get caught shooting off their mouths. He told his team, "This is Alabama, we do our talking on the field."

    And that's exactly what they did.

    They made the Stanford team look inept in a 24-0 game that allowed Alabama to let every player get some playing time.

    This was yet another national championship for Alabama, Wallace Wade's first, and Alabama's third win at the Rose Bowl in a short period of time.

    This win put an exclamation mark on the point that Alabama was no team that was going away any time soon from the top echelon of college football.

    It also made the Rose Bowl Committee consider the idea of not allowing Alabama or any other Southern team back to the Rose Bowl. Those teams seemed to simply embarrass the Northern and Western teams.

    The Rose Bowl was soon a locked bowl between the Northern and Western champions and never included another Southern team.

1. The Most Important Bowl Win of All Time? the 1926 Rose Bowl Win

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    Until the 1926 Rose Bowl, most of the country accepted the national sportswriters' views that only Northern and Western schools had teams worthy of being considered champions.

    Alabama press writers were relentless, however, in saying that some teams in the South, particularly Alabama, were just as good. They taunted the other teams in other regions to play Alabama by saying they were scared of those "Skinny Southern farm boys."

    So finally, following the 1925 season, the Rose Bowl Committee invited Alabama to come play in the biggest postseason game in all of college football.

    It was supposed to be a one-time event to shut up the Southern sportswriters and show the nation that there was nothing about Southern football that belonged in the same talk as the Northern and Western powers.

    Washington was supposed to maul these "farm boys," and for a while, it looked like they may do just that, but the gritty team from Alabama fought back to defeat the Huskies 20-19.

    That game forevermore changed the landscape of college football. It broke the grip that Northern and Western teams had over national championships and put Alabama on the map to stay.

    It was Alabama's first national championship and the first of many for head coach Wallace Wade.

    Alabama would never look back from this point forward and would never the leave the group of elite teams of all time.

    If this was Alpha, who knows where Omega may be, but as long as there are championships and bowl games to be won, Alabama will be among the teams winning them.

    (Larry Burton is a syndicated writer whose work appears online and in print. If you'd like to keep up with all his articles, follow him on Twitter and sign up as a fan on his profile page.)

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