Christopher Walsh’s All Things CW notes column will appear in five parts this week, one each day as Alabama Crimson Tide prepares to host Auburn for the Iron Bowl.
That is …
Throwback Thanksgiving? Sure, why not?
If you spend a lot of time on the internet, you’re probably too young to remember, but Alabama Football used to play Thanksgiving. It’s not like they go together like dressing and gravy (or if you prefer cranberries and sweet potato casserole), but the Crimson Tide traditionally played on holidays.
Nowadays, of course, the Saturday after Thanksgiving is the annual Iron Bowl rivalry game between Alabama and Auburn. Consequently, it should come as no surprise to anyone that the last time the Crimson Tide played against the Tigers was on this holiday.
It was 1992, November 26th to be exact, and undefeated Alabama had moved up to No. 2 in the polls. The Crimson Tide had already clinched their first SEC Western Division title, and to keep his team on the same routine, Gene Stallings mixed things up this past bye week, giving players Monday through Wednesday off, and started on Thursday with training for the game.
Regardless, Auburn coach Pat Dye stole all the headlines by announcing his retirement less than 24 hours before the game.
The move helped motivate Auburn, but it didn’t matter in the end. The Tigers kept the Crimson Tide scoreless in the first half but were never able to break Alabama’s prolific defense en route to the 17-0 loss.
Auburn crossed midfield just four times and never got closer to the end zone than the 30-yard line, while Alabama scored the only shutout, the only one Dye has ever come through.
“Ten to nothing isn’t a big deal unless you have a defense like Alabama’s, and then it’s monumental,” Dye said. “Alabama may have the best defense I’ve seen at our conference.”
The Crimson Tide threw up just 20 rushing yards and 139 total yards, sacked Stan White five times and even opened the scoring with a touchdown. Early in the third quarter, Antonio Langham jumped the route and took 61 yards for the interception return.
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“I looked up and everything I saw in front of me was green,” Langham said.
Of course, Alabama won the national championship.
Overall, Alabama had stints playing against Tennessee, Mississippi State, Georgia and Vanderbilt over the holidays. However, the first game of Thanksgiving dates back to 1893-94, the second and third seasons of the Crimson Tide in which the then-new sport was played. It met Auburn on the holiday for consecutive years in neutral territory, Montgomery lost the first 40-16 and won the rematch a year later 18-0.
Most of the Crimson Tide Thanksgiving games took place between 1900 and 1938 and usually at Legion Field in Birmingham. In fact, the first game played at what was then Municipal Stadium was on Thanksgiving Day in 1927, a 20-6 loss to Georgia.
By the end of this period, Alabama and Vanderbilt were playing every year, with a few Thanksgiving games between 1931 and 1938.
Alabama played at least two other games over the holidays, but only one of those was against Auburn at Legion Field:
• On November 26, 1964, the Crimson Tide No. 2 was down 7-6 when Ray Odgen opened the second half with a momentum-changing 107-yard kick return for a touchdown. Joe Namath and Ray Perkins combined in the fourth quarter for a 23-yard touchdown that ultimately spelled the difference in the 21-14 win.
• On November 22, 1973, No. 2 Alabama went undefeated with a 21-7 win at LSU. Gary Rutledge was involved in two touchdowns in the second quarter, on a 19-yard run and a 43-yard pass to George Pugh. Wayne Wheeler had the other result on a 77-yard touchdown reception.
Crimson Tide Thanksgiving Games
- 1893 Auburn in Montgomery, L40-16
- 1894 Auburn near Montgomery, W18-0
- 1900 Clemson at Birmingham, L35-0
- 1901 Tennessee in Birmingham, T 6-6
- 1902 Georgia Tech at Birmingham, W26-0
- 1903 Tennessee at Birmingham, W24-0
- 1904 Tennessee at Birmingham, L5-0
- 1905 Tennessee at Birmingham, W29-0
- 1906 Tennessee at Birmingham, W51-0
- 1907 Tennessee at Birmingham, W5-0
- 1908 Tennessee at Birmingham, W4-0
- 1909 LSU at Birmingham, L12-6
- 1910 Washington & Lee at Birmingham, W9-0
- 1911 Davidson at Birmingham, W16-6
- 1912 Tennessee at Birmingham, W7-0
- 1913 Mississippi State at Birmingham, L7-0
- 1914 Mississippi State at Birmingham, L9-0
- 1915 Ole Miss at Birmingham, W53-0
- 1916 Georgia at Birmingham, L3-0
- 1917 Camp Gordon at Birmingham, L19-6
- 1919 State of Mississippi in Birmingham, W 14-6
- 1920 State of Mississippi in Birmingham, W 24-7
- 1921 State of Mississippi in Birmingham, T 7-7
- 1924 Georgia at Birmingham, W33-0
- 1925 Georgia at Birmingham, W27-0
- 1926 Georgia in Birmingham, W33-6
- 1927 Georgia at Birmingham, L20-6
- 1928 Georgia at Birmingham, W19-0
- 1929 Georgia at Birmingham, L12-0
- 1930 Georgia at Birmingham, W13-0
- 1931 Vanderbilt in Nashville, W14-6
- 1932 Vanderbilt at Birmingham, W20-0
- 1935 Vanderbilt in Nashville, L14-6
- 1936 Vanderbilt at Birmingham W14-6
- 1937 Vanderbilt in Nashville, W9-7
- 1938 Vanderbilt at Birmingham, W7-0
- 1964 Auburn in Birmingham, W21-14
- 1973 LSU at Baton Rouge, W21-7
- 1992 Auburn at Birmingham, W17-0
Take 1: Biggest rivalry really not up for debate, Alabama-Auburn
Take 2: Should Bryce Young be there for the Heisman Trophy?
Take 3: College sports, they’re changing
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