BY COLIN “BIG C” MACGUIRE
The Greenville Standard
The 1964 Alabama team won another national championship for the second time in four years.
Coming off a 9-2 record from 1963, the big name on the team was quarterback Joe Namath.
He got into Coach Bryant’s doghouse and was suspended the last games of the season. Namath was reinstated during the spring of 1964.
Alabama was ranked #6 in the preseason. Alabama opened the season on Sept. 19 vs Georgia at Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. Alabama won 31-3.
Joe Namath scored three touchdowns and was named National Back of the Week. Georgia had a new coach, Dooley. You know the rest of the story.
On Sept. 26, the Tide faced Tulane at Ladd Stadium in Mobile. Alabama won 36-6. On Oct. 3, Alabama faced Vanderbilt at Legion Field Birmingham and won 24-0.
The score was 0-0 at the half. The Tide scored 14 in the third and 10 in the fourth. The umbrellas were out that night.
On Oct 10, North Carolina State took the field at Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. Alabama won 21-0. Joe Namath injured his knee that day and from that point on Namath had problems with his knees.
On Oct. 17, the Tide faced Tennessee at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville. Alabama won 19-8. Alabama jumped out to 16-0 lead. Tennessee made it interesting scoring a touchdown and making two point conversion. David Ray kicked a field goal to make the final 19-8.
On Oct. 24, Florida visited Denny at Tuscaloosa. Alabama won 17-14. The Tide was trailing 14-7 in the fourth quarter. Steve Bowman scored on 30-yard run. 14-14. Quarterback Steve Sloan drove Alabama to a game winning field goal by David Ray. Florida drove down field. Lined up for a game tying field goal, The Gators missed it.
On Oct. 31, Alabama faced Mississippi State at Mississippi Memorial Stadium Jackson. Alabama won 23-6. Alabama led 9-6 at the half. Alabama scored two touchdowns in the third quarter to ice the game.
On Nov. 7, LSU came to Legion Field in Birmingham. Alabama won 17-9. Alabama trailed 9-7 at the half. Alabama kicked a field goal go up 10-9. LSU started a drive middle of the fourth quarter. Alabama defensive back Hudson Harris intercepted a LSU pass and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown. After that Alabama stopped LSU the next two drives, and it was game over.
On Nov. 14, Alabama faced Georgia Tech at Grant Field in Atlanta. Alabama won 24-7. With two minutes left in the half, the score was 0-0. Enter Joe Namath at midfield. On third down, Namath connects with David Ray who takes it down to the three yard line. On the next play Namath to Ogden touchdown. Alabama onside kicked and recovered. Namath connects with Ray Ogden to the GT three. On the next play Namath to Ray touchdown. In 80 seconds Alabama 14 Georgia Tech 0. Game over.
On Nov. 26, Thanksgiving Day, Alabama took on Auburn at Legion Field. It was the first Iron Bowl televised. Alabama won 21-14. Alabama scored first when Auburn snapped the ball over the punter and they lost 39 yards. Steve Bowman recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.
Ray missed on extra point kick. Auburn scored a touchdown and made the kick to go up 7-6 at the half. Alabama received the second half kickoff.
Ray Ogden caught the ball seven yards deep in end zone. The up man said nobno. Ogden thought he said go. He did straight up the middle for a touchdown. Alabama went for two and made it.
They were now up 14-7. Auburn was driving for a touchdown. Alabama forced a fumble and recovered at the Alabama 23-yard line.
Enter Joe Namath at quarterback. On the first play, he hands off to Steve Bowman who breaks off for a 52-yard run.
On the next play, Namath throws 25 yards for a touchdown pass to Ray Perkins. Now the score is 21-7. Auburn recovers an Alabama fumble and scores.
They try an onside kick but Alabama recovers the kick and runs out clock.
The next week, they were named national champions by AP and UPI.
Alabama had a bowl game remaining, the Orange Bowl vs Texas. The first night of practice Namath reinjured his knee.
Things looked doubtful. Steve Sloan started at quarterback. Texas scored on a 79-yard run and 69-yard pass play to go up 14-0. Then Namath entered the game.
Alabama scored to make it 14-7. Texas scored before the half to lead 21-7. Alabama scores in the third quarter, and make a field goal in the fourth to make it 21-17.
Alabama intercepts a pass at Texas 34. A 17-yard pass and an 11-yard pass got the ball to the Texas six yard line. Steve Bowman carried for four to the two.
On fourth and goal, Namath sneaks it in. One official said yes, another one said no. The one who said no won out.
Steve Bowman told his wife, Namath was over. Alabama got a break with National Champions being named at the end of the regular season.
After 1965, The Associated Press would vote after the bowl games.