College Football: A Little Alabama–Ole Miss History For the Younger Fans

Larry BurtonSenior Writer IOctober 12, 2010

Colenel Reb was officially dropped as the school's mascot and Ole Miss is the only team without an official mascot now
Colenel Reb was officially dropped as the school's mascot and Ole Miss is the only team without an official mascot now

In the modern age of football, young fans lack a sense of history that all of the old fans hold so dear—part of that history is the Alabama–Ole Miss rivalry

This series has been played since 1894; both teams were founding members of the SEC and both teams have had legendary coaches that shaped their programs.

Though Alabama leads the series by a healthy 43-9-2 record, some of the games were among the best that either school played.

The games have also had a geographic phenomenon that may never be repeated.

This game has been played at nine different locations: Jackson, Mississippi; Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Columbus, Mississippi; Greeneville, Mississippi; Birmingham, Alabama; Montgomery, Alabama; Mobile, Alabama; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Oxford, Mississippi.

The original name for Ole Miss was “The Flood,” but was changed to the Rebels in 1936.

Their history has some greatness younger fans may not be aware of. In 2008, Ole Miss won their historic 600th game by defeating Florida at Florida’s home field the year the Gators won the national championship.

They have won a total of six SEC Championships and have a claim to three national championships, (1959, 1960, 1962). Those championships were won by historic coach John “Johnny” Vaught, and he was the legendary SEC coach of his day, just as a young coach name Paul Bryant began putting together is staff at Alabama.

Coach Bryant was in awe of Vaught and had the utmost respect for him and his accomplishments; as well he should have as three of Ole Miss’ SEC titles came in 1960, 1962 and 1963.

The stadium that Ole Miss plays in reflects his name, Vaught-Hemmingway Stadium. It was originally named Hemmingway Stadium after Judge William Hemmingway, a former professor of law and chairman of the University's Committee on Athletics. It bore his name when it opened in 1915.

Young fans may think Ole Miss is a backward place, but that certainly isn’t the case. Ole Miss was the first team in the country to fly to an away game. The year was 1937 and the flight was from Memphis, Tennessee to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; they were also one of the first on television in 1948.

Even though the program has fallen on hard times as of late, they still have the have the nation’s third best winning bowl game percentage, just behind USC and Penn State. That record, for schools with at least 25 bowl games, is 21 wins out of 33 bowls.

The “Grove” is one of the nicest spots in America for tailgating and one of the friendliest as well. As you’re driving around campus, you’ll notice an odd speed limit, 18 miles an hour.

This was done as a lasting memorial to Archie Manning, one of only two football players to ever have their jersey retired, who was number 18. Archie’s son Eli Manning also played for Ole Miss, and is today a Super Bowl winning quarterback with the New York Giants.

Some memorable Alabama–Ole Miss Games

Alabama posted an 18-game unbeaten streak against the Rebels from 1912-67, a span of 55 years. The Tide won 12 consecutive games during the streak, including nine shutouts.  

Alabama 12, Ole Miss 7
Jan. 1, 1964 (Sugar Bowl)

Tim Davis kicked four field goals to lead Alabama to a 12-7 win over SEC rival Ole Miss at the 1964 Sugar Bowl at Tulane Stadium. 

Davis kicked field goals of 31, 46, 22 and 48 yards to earn MVP honors on a snow-covered field.

Ole Miss 10, Alabama 8 (Oct. 5, 1968)
(Mississippi Memorial Stadium)

Sophomore quarterback Archie Manning led Ole Miss to its first win over Alabama in 58 years with a 10-8 victory in Jackson. Manning completed 11 of 26 passes for 129 yards in the win. Manning's 6-yard TD pass to Shows in the second quarter was the game's only offensive TD. 

Alabama cut the lead to 10-8 in the fourth quarter when Mike Reilly recovered a blocked punt in the end zone. Prior to 1968, Ole Miss had not beaten Alabama since a 16-0 win in Greenville in 1910, although the teams had played only 19 times.

Alabama 33, Ole Miss 32
Oct. 4, 1969 (Legion Field, Birmingham)

In one of the greatest games in college football history, Alabama out-dueled Ole Miss 33-32 at Birmingham's Legion Field and a national TV (ABC) audience. 

Alabama's Scott Hunter led the Crimson Tide to a thrilling one-point win over Ole Miss junior Archie Manning.

Hunter completed 22 of 29 passes for 300 yards, including the game-winning 14-yard TD pass to Meridian, Miss., native George Ranager with 3:42 left in the game. Manning was less than disappointing in defeat, completing 33 of 52 passes for a school-record 436 yards in the loss. 

The 33 completions, 436 passing yards and 609 yards of total offense all stood as records against the Alabama defense until last season against LSU.

Ole Miss 10, Alabama 7 (Sept. 11, 1976)
(Mississippi Memorial Stadium)

Ole Miss' Hoppy Langley kicked a game-winning FG in the fourth quarter to lead the Rebels to a 10-7 win in the 1976 season opener. 

The loss was the first SEC loss by the Crimson Tide since a 17-16 setback to Auburn to close the 1972 season; the Crimson Tide had won 20 consecutive SEC games. 

Ole Miss 22, Alabama 12 (Oct. 8, 1988)
(Bryant-Denny Stadium) (HC)

Ole Miss shocked a Homecoming crowd at Bryant-Denny Stadium with a 22-12 win over the Crimson Tide. 

It was the Rebels first-ever win in the state of Alabama; the game also came on the dedication and grand opening of the Paul W. Bryant Museum.

Alabama 62, Ole Miss 27 (Oct. 7, 1989)
(Mississippi Memorial Stadium)

In one of the most bizarre turnarounds ever, Alabama spotted Ole Miss a 21-0 lead before pulling out a 62-27 win. 

The Crimson Tide scored 41 second quarter points en route to 62 unanswered points en route to the win over the Rebels at Jackson's Mississippi Memorial Stadium. 

Alabama 20, Ole Miss 17 (Oct. 10, 1998)
(Bryant-Denny Stadium) (OT)

Ryan Pflugner's overtime FG gave the Crimson Tide a 20-17 win over Ole Miss in 1998, the first overtime win in school history.

So, now you see it’s more than just another SEC opponent—this is an old series with lots of history involved for both teams.

Enjoy the game with a different look at two old rivals squaring off yet once again.

Larry Burton (Syndicated Writer)

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