BY COLIN “BIG C” MACGUIRE
The Greenville Standard
Today I will discuss the University of Alabama’s 1965 National Championship Team.
The 1964 Team won the AP and UPI National Championship with a 10-1 record. They lost to Texas in the Orange Bowl 21-17. Alabama was crowned national champions at the end of the 1964 regular season.
Associated Press (AP) decided that season to name the national champion after the bowl games.
Arkansas finished the 1964 season at 11-0. The Razorbacks won the 1964 Football Writers Association of America National Championship.
From the starting 11 from 1964, Alabama was replacing four offensive linemen and two backs in the backfield. Joe Namath spilt time with Steve Sloan because of injuries.
Alabama opened the 1965 season at Georgia. On Sept. 18, they trailed 10-3 at the half. Alabama went up 17-10 in the fourth quarter. Georgia scored on a hook and lateral play then went for two and made it. Alabama missed a 42-yard field goal.
On Sept. 25, Alabama beat Tulane in Mobile 27-0. This would be the last time Alabama played Tulane until 1991. This was also the last year Tulane was in the Southeastern Conference.
On Oct. 2, the Tide faced Ole Miss at Legion Field in Birmingham. They trailed by nine points twice in the game. They trailed 9-0 in the first half and going into the fourth quarter behind 16-7. Alabama scored 10 points with the winning touchdown scored with over a minute left in the game.
On Oct. 9, Alabama played Vanderbilt in Nashville and won 22-7. Vandy led 7-0 at the half. Going into the fourth quarter still trailing 7-0, Steve Bowman scored on a two yard run. They went for two and were up 8-7. John David Reitz had a 35-yard interception return. Bowman scored on 57-yard run to make final 22-7.
On Oct. 16, the Tide faced Tennessee at Legion Field. Alabama had several opportunities to score but mistakes eliminated that. With 36 seconds left in the game and with possession on the UT six yard line, Snake Stabler thought it was third down. It was fourth down and he threw an incomplete pass. They turned the ball over on downs and the gamed ended in a 7-7 tie.
On Oct. 23, Florida State came to Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. It was Homecoming. Alabama had a solid 21-0 win.
On Oct. 30, Alabama faced Mississippi State in Jackson. Alabama scored on its first offensive play of the game. Sloan passed to Homan for a 65-yard touchdown. Alabama then kicked a field goal to go up 10-0. Then they had to hold on. Bobby Johns blocked a field goal and intercepted a pass to preserve a 10-7 win.
On Nov. 6, Alabama faced LSU at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. It was TV game. The offense exploded to a 24-0 half time lead. Going into the fourth quarter, they were up 31-0. The final was 31-7.
On Nov. 13, South Carolina came to Tuscaloosa. The offense started slow and only lead 7-0 at the half. They scored two touchdowns in the third quarter and two in the fourth to win 35-14.
On Nov. 27, Alabama played Auburn at Legion Field. Alabama scored over 30 points three weeks in a row. They also set game record of intercepting seven passes.
Alabama won the SEC Title. They were now ranked number four and playing number three.
Because AP decided to vote after the bowl game, Alabama had a chance to win the National Championship.
The morning of Jan. 1, 1966, Alabama is number four. Number two Arkansas played LSU in the Cotton Bowl. Eight weeks earlier Alabama blasted LSU 31-7. LSU upset Arkansas 14-7.
Number one Michigan State played UCLA in the Rose Bowl. Michigan State beat UCLA 13-3 in season opener. UCLA upset number one Michigan State 14-12.
The winner takes all. Alabama played with reckless abandon, tackling, passing and recovering onside kicks.
Alabama jumped out to a 24-7 halftime lead. Alabama went on to win 39-28. They went from last place in the SEC to first place in College Football.