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Contents: 1970 - 1971 - 1972 - 1973 - 1974 - 1975 - 1976 - 1977 - 1978 - 1979


The 1970's were the most successful in the the history of the Alabama football program. During the decade the teams won 3 national championships (1973, 1978, 1979) and dominated the SEC in an unprecedented manner, winning 8 titles in 10 years. The school posted back to back undefeated regular seasons in 1973 and 1974 and ended the decade in the midst of a school record 28 game winning streak. Alabama participated in a bowl every season during the decade, part of a school record 25 straight bowl appearances.

1970

1970 Alabama Crimson Tide football
Bluebonnet Bowl, T 24-24 vs. Oklahoma
Conference Southeastern Conference
1970 record 6-5-1 (3-4 SEC)
Head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant

Home stadium

Denny Stadium
Legion Field
Seasons
« 1969 1971 »

Alabama started the 1970s much as it ended the 1960s, going 6-5-1 after going 6-5 the year before. Southern Cal traveled to Birmingham for the opener and pounded the Tide 42-21, racking up 484 yards rushing.[1] Auburn and LSU beat Alabama again, and Tennessee beat the Tide for the fourth year in a row. In the Tennessee game, quarterback Scott Hunter threw five interceptions and the team threw eight, both all-time Alabama records.[2]

Date Opponent Site Result
September 12 USC Birmingham, AL L 42-21
September 19 Virginia Tech Birmingham, AL W 51-18
September 26 Florida Birmingham, AL W 46-15
October 3 Ole Miss Jackson, MS L 48-23
October 10 Vanderbilt Tuscaloosa, AL W 35-11
October 17 Tennessee Knoxville, TN (Third Saturday in October) L 24-0
October 24 Houston Houston, TX W 30-21
October 31 Mississippi State Tuscaloosa, AL W 35-6
November 7 LSU Birmingham, AL L 14-9
November 14 Miami Miami, FL W 32-8
November 28 Auburn Birmingham, AL (Iron Bowl) L 33-28
December 31 Oklahoma Houston, TX (Bluebonnet Bowl) T 24-24

1971

1971 Alabama Crimson Tide football
SEC Champions
Orange Bowl, L 38-6 vs. Nebraska
Conference Southeastern Conference
Ranking
Coaches #2
AP #4
1971 record 11-1 (7-0 SEC)
Head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant

Home stadium

Denny Stadium
Legion Field
Seasons
« 1970 1972 »

Two big changes came to Alabama football in 1971. The first were Wilbur Jackson and John Mitchell. Jackson, signed in 1969 and a member of Alabama's freshman team in 1970 (freshman in those days were not eligible for the varsity), was the first ever black player given a football scholarship to Alabama.[3] John Mitchell, who made the team as a junior in 1971, was the first to actually play.[4]

The second was the wishbone offense. In the wishbone, a variant of the triple option, the quarterback lines up with a fullback and two tailbacks behind him, and on any play may keep the ball, hand off to the fullback, or pitch to a tailback. Passing is deemphasized. In the summer of 1971 Bryant flew to Texas to learn the wishbone from Darrell Royal, who won national championships in 1969 and 1970 after his offensive coordinator Emory Bellard invented the formation in 1968. Bryant came back to Alabama and less than a month before the 1971 opener and announced that Bama was shifting to the wishbone. The change was a closely guarded secret, to the extent that the Tide switched back to practicing the passing game whenever a member of the media was present. Bama's switch to the wishbone came as a complete surprise for the opener against Southern Cal, which had humiliated the Tide one year before.[5] Alabama won the game, 17-10, and started the greatest run of success in the history of the program. Over the next eleven seasons, 1971-1981, Alabama won nine SEC titles and three national championships, and lost only four Southeastern conference games.

Alabama tore through the 1971 season to finish 11-0, with the Southern Cal win and a 14-7 win over LSU as the only close games. The season finale matched up a 10-0 Tide with a 9-0 Auburn team, the first[6] and only time that both teams have come into the Iron Bowl with perfect records. Alabama scored 17 points in the fourth quarter to break the game open and win 31-7.[7] However, the perfect season was ruined when Alabama took a 38-6 beating from the national champion Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Orange Bowl.

Date Opponent Site Result
September 10 USC Los Angeles, CA W 17-10
September 18 Southern Miss Tuscaloosa, AL W 42-6
September 25 Florida Gainesville, FL W 38-0
October 2 Ole Miss Birmingham, AL W 40-6
October 9 Vanderbilt Nashville, TN W 42-0
October 16 Tennessee Birmingham, AL (Third Saturday in October) W 32-15
October 23 Houston Tuscaloosa, AL W 34-20
October 30 Mississippi State Jackson, MS W 41-10
November 6 LSU Baton Rouge, LA W 14-7
November 13 Miami Tuscaloosa, AL W 31-3
November 27 Auburn Birmingham, AL (Iron Bowl) W 31-7
January 1 Nebraska Miami, FL (Orange Bowl) L 38-6

1972

1972 Alabama Crimson Tide football
SEC Champions
Cotton Bowl, L 17-13 vs. Texas
Conference Southeastern Conference
Ranking
Coaches #4
AP #7
1972 record 10-2 (7-1 SEC)
Head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant

Home stadium

Denny Stadium
Legion Field
Seasons
« 1971 1973 »

Alabama won its first ten games of 1972 in just as dominant a manner as it did in 1971. The Tide had only one close game, on Oct. 21 against Tennessee, when they scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to pull out a 17-10 victory.[8]

Then came the season finale against Auburn. Auburn also had a very good team in 1972 (the Tigers had lost only once and were ranked ninth going into the game)[9] but Alabama dominated play, allowing Auburn only seven first downs and 80 yards of total offense for the entire game.[8] With about five minutes to go, leading 16-3,[9] Alabama lined up to punt. Bill Newton broke through and blocked Greg Gantt's punt, and Auburn's David Langner gathered up the ball and ran it in for a touchdown. That made the score 16-10. Alabama could get only one first down on the ensuing possession, and with 90 seconds to go[10] lined up to punt again. Again, Newton blocked the punt, and again, Langner scored the touchdown. Auburn won 17-16, and the game went down in infamy (from a Crimson Tide standpoint) as the "Punt Bama Punt" game. Auburn would not beat Alabama again for ten years. Bama followed that loss up with a loss to Texas in the Cotton Bowl Classic and finished the season 10-2.

Date Opponent Site Result
September 9 Duke Birmingham, AL W 35-12
September 23 Kentucky Birmingham, AL W 35-0
September 30 Vanderbilt Tuscaloosa, AL W 48-21
October 7 Georgia Athens, GA W 25-7
October 14 Florida Tuscaloosa, AL W 24-7
October 21 Tennessee Knoxville, TN (Third Saturday in October) W 17-10
October 28 Southern Miss Birmingham, AL W 48-11
November 4 Mississippi State Tuscaloosa, AL W58-14
November 11 LSU Birmingham W 35-21
November 18 Virginia Tech Tuscaloosa, AL W 52-13
December 2 Auburn Birmingham, AL (Iron Bowl) L 17-16
January 1 Texas Dallas, TX (Cotton Bowl) L 17-13

1973

1973 Alabama Crimson Tide football
National Champions
SEC Champions
Sugar Bowl, L 24-23 vs. Notre Dame
Conference Southeastern Conference
Ranking
Coaches #1
AP #4
1973 record 11-1 (8-0 SEC)
Head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant

Home stadium

Denny Stadium
Legion Field
Seasons
« 1972 1974 »

In 1973 Alabama football enjoyed one of its most dominating seasons of all time. The Tide went 11-0 in the regular season, never winning a game by fewer than 14 points and scoring 35 points or more in eight of 11 games.[11] Against Georgia, the Tide trailed 14-13 in the fourth quarter before rallying to win 28-14. Tennessee and Alabama were tied 21-21 going into the fourth quarter before Bama scored three unanswered touchdowns in the final period to win. In the Iron Bowl, Alabama earned a measure of revenge for the Punt Bama Punt game by beating Auburn 35-0.

Alabama was voted national champion by the UPI coaches poll on December 4th, the Tide's fourth wire service national championship. Through the 1973 season, UPI voted before the bowl games, and Alabama still had the Sugar Bowl to play against undefeated Notre Dame. The game turned out to be a classic. Notre Dame checked into the locker room at halftime up 14-10, the big play coming on a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Each team scored a touchdown in the third quarter, leaving the Irish up 21-17 going into the fourth. Alabama took a 23-21 lead on a fleaflicker touchdown pass from running back Mike Strock back to quarterback Richard Todd--but kicker Bill Davis missed the extra point, leaving Alabama up by two. Notre Dame drove the ball downfield and kicked a 19-yard field goal to go up 24-23 with 4:26 to go. Bama could not answer, but the punt left Notre Dame backed up to their own goal. With time ticking away and Notre Dame facing a third and eight, Alabama had a chance to get the ball back in excellent field position, but Irish QB Tom Clements threw a 35-yard pass to tight end Robin Hayes and Notre Dame held on to win the game and the AP national championship.[12][13][14]

Date Opponent Site Result
September 15 California Birmingham, AL W 66-0
September 22 Kentucky Lexington, KY W 28-14
September 29 Vanderbilt Nashville, TN W 44-0
October 6 Georgia Tuscaloosa, AL W 28-14
October 13 Florida Gainesville, FL W 35-14
October 20 Tennessee Birmingham, AL (Third Saturday in October) W 42-21
October 27 Virginia Tech Tuscaloosa, AL W 77-6
November 3 Mississippi State Jackson, MS W 35-0
November 17 Miami Tuscaloosa, AL W 43-13
November 22 LSU Baton Rouge, LA W 21-7
December 1 Auburn Birmingham, AL (Iron Bowl) W 35-0
December 31 Notre Dame New Orleans, LA (Sugar Bowl) L 24-23

1974

1974 Alabama Crimson Tide football
SEC Champions
Orange Bowl, L 13-11 vs. Notre Dame
Conference Southeastern Conference
Ranking
Coaches #2
AP #5
1974 record 11-1 (6-0 SEC)
Head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant

Home stadium

Denny Stadium
Legion Field
Seasons
« 1973 1975 »

1974 saw Alabama go through the regular season undefeated for the third time in four years. Strangely, Bama's closest game came against a Florida State team that entered their matchup with the Tide as losers of sixteen games in a row.[15] The Seminoles scored a touchdown in the first quarter and in the fourth quarter still had a 7-3 lead, but a safety and a field goal allowed Alabama to escape with an 8-7 victory.

The FSU game and a 21-16 victory over Maryland in the season opener were the only close games the Tide played all season.[16] The season finale was a rematch against Notre Dame, this time in the Orange Bowl. Notre Dame, ranked ninth going into the game[17], beat Alabama again, 13-11. For the third time in four years, Bama followed up their 11-0 regular season with a bowl game loss. The Orange Bowl defeat left Bryant and the Tide 0-7-1 in their last eight bowl games.

Date Opponent Site Result
September 14 Maryland College Park, MD W 21-16
September 21 Southern Miss Birmingham, AL W 52-0
September 28 Vanderbilt Tuscaloosa, AL W 23-0
October 5 Ole Miss Jackson, MS W 35-21
October 12 Florida State Tuscaloosa, AL W 8-7
October 19 Tennessee Knoxville, TN (Third Saturday in October) W 28-6
October 26 TCU Birmingham, AL W 41-3
November 2 Mississippi State Tuscaloosa, AL W 35-0
November 9 LSU Birmingham, AL W 30-0
November 16 Miami Miami, FL W 28-7
November 29 Auburn Birmingham, AL (Iron Bowl) W 17-13
January 1 Notre Dame Miami, FL (Orange Bowl) L 13-11

1975

1975 Alabama Crimson Tide football
SEC Champions
Sugar Bowl, W 13-6 vs. Penn State
Conference Southeastern Conference
Ranking
Coaches #3
AP #3
1975 record 11-1 (6-0 SEC)
Head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant

Home stadium

Bryant-Denny Stadium
Legion Field
Seasons
« 1974 1976 »

For the first time since 1970, Alabama lost its season opener, falling 20-7 to Missouri in a game where the Tide had only 118 yards total offense.[18] Bama bounced back from that loss and won every other game of the 1975 season by double digits. The Tide won its fifth straight SEC title (an all-time conference record) and ran its conference winning streak to 22 games. Alabama ended the campaign with its first bowl victory in nine seasons, beating Penn State 13-6.

Date Opponent Site Result
September 8 Missouri Birmingham, AL L 20-7
September 20 Clemson Tuscaloosa, AL W 56-0
September 27 Vanderbilt Nashville, TN W 40-7
October 4 Ole Miss Birmingham, AL W 32-6
October 11 Washington Tuscaloosa, AL W 52-0
October 18 Tennessee Birmingham, AL (Third Saturday in October) W 30-7
October 25 TCU Birmingham, AL W 45-0
November 1 Mississippi State Jackson, MS W 21-10
November 9 LSU Baton Rouga, LA W 23-10
November 15 Southern Miss Tuscaloosa, AL W 27-6
November 29 Auburn Birmingham, AL (Iron Bowl) W 28-0
December 31 Penn State New Orleans, LA (Sugar Bowl) W 13-6

1976

1976 Alabama Crimson Tide football
Liberty Bowl, W 36-6 vs. UCLA
Conference Southeastern Conference
Ranking
Coaches #9
AP #11
1976 record 9-3 (5-2 SEC)
Head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant

Home stadium

Bryant-Denny Stadium
Legion Field
Seasons
« 1975 1977 »

Alabama was not quite as dominant in 1976 as it had been the previous five years. The season-opening 10-7 loss to Mississippi was Alabama's first conference loss in four years. On October 2 the Georgia Bulldogs held Bama to 86 total yards;[19] the 21-0 loss was the first time Alabama had been shut out since 1970. For the first time since that same 1970 season, Bama failed to win the SEC title. Highlights of the 1976 season included a 38-7 victory over Auburn and a Liberty Bowl win over UCLA.

Date Opponent Site Result
September 10 Ole Miss Jackson, MS L 10-7
September 18 SMU Birmingham, AL W 56-3
September 25 Vanderbilt Tuscaloosa, AL W 42-14
October 2 Georgia Athens, GA L 21-0
October 9 Southern Miss Birmingham, AL W 24-8
October 16 Tennessee Knoxville, TN (Third Saturday in October) W 20-13
October 23 Louisville Tuscaloosa, AL W 24-3
October 30 Mississippi State Tuscaloosa, AL W 34-17
November 6 LSU Birmingham, AL W 28-17
November 13 Notre Dame South Bend, IN L 21-18
November 27 Auburn Birmingham, AL (Iron Bowl) W 38-7
December 20 UCLA Memphis, TN (Liberty Bowl) W 36-6

1977

1977 Alabama Crimson Tide football
SEC Champions
Sugar Bowl, W 35-6 vs. Ohio State
Conference Southeastern Conference
Ranking
Coaches #2
AP #2
1977 record 10-2 (7-0 SEC)
Head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant

Home stadium

Bryant-Denny Stadium
Legion Field
Seasons
« 1976 1978 »

In 1977 Alabama returned to its former place atop the SEC standings, going 11-1 on the year. The only blemish was a 31-24 loss to Nebraska in which quarterback Jeff Rutledge threw five interceptions.[20] On October 8, Alabama beat Southern Cal 21-20, turning away a Trojan two-point conversion in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. Bama beat Tennessee for the seventh year in a row and Auburn for the fifth year in a row, and finished up with a 35-6 victory over Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl.

Date Opponent Site Result
September 10 Ole Miss Birmingham, AL W 34-13
September 17 Nebraska Lincoln, NE L 31-24
September 24 Vanderbilt Nashville, TN W 24-12
October 1 Georgia Tuscaloosa, AL W 18-10
October 8 USC Los Angeles, CA W 21-20
October 15 Tennessee Birmingham, AL (Third Saturday in October) W 24-10
October 22 Louisville Tuscaloosa, AL W 55-6
October 29 Mississippi State Jackson, MS W 37-7
November 5 LSU Baton Rouga, LA W 24-3
November 12 Miami Tuscaloosa, AL W 36-0
November 26 Auburn Birmingham, AL (Iron Bowl) W 48-21
January 2 Ohio State New Orleans, LA (Sugar Bowl) W 35-6

1978

1978 Alabama Crimson Tide football
National Champions
SEC Champions
Sugar Bowl, W 14-7 vs. Penn State
Conference Southeastern Conference
Ranking
Coaches #2
AP #1
1978 record 11-1 (6-0 SEC)
Head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant

Home stadium

Bryant-Denny Stadium
Legion Field
Seasons
« 1977 1979 »

The only blemish on Alabama's record in 1978 was a loss to Southern Cal. Bama turned the ball over six times in that game.[21] The next week's 51-28 victory over Vanderbilt started what became an all-time school record 28-game winning streak.

The 1979 Sugar Bowl against Penn State would go down as a classic.[13] Alabama scored in the second quarter, then Penn State answered in the third, then Alabama took a 14-7 lead on a touchdown set up by a 62-yard punt return. Penn State had a chance to tie in the fourth, but quarterback Chuck Fusina threw an interception into the Alabama end zone.[22] Then Alabama had a chance to put the game away, but fumbled the football back to Penn State at the Nittany Lion 19-yard-line with four minutes to go.[13] Penn State drove to a first and goal at the Alabama eight. On third and goal from the one, Fusina asked Bama linebacker Marty Lyons "What do you think we should do?", and Lyons answered "You'd better pass."[23] On third down, Penn State was stopped inches short of the goal line. On fourth down, Penn State was stopped again, Barry Krauss meeting Mike Guman and throwing him back for no gain. Alabama held on for a 14-7 victory. The Crimson Tide split the national championship, winning the AP poll while Southern Cal won the UPI poll. It was Alabama's fifth wire service national championship.

Date Opponent Site Result
September 2 Nebraska Birmingham, AL W 20-3
September 16 Missouri Columbia, MO W 38-20
September 23 USC Birmingham, AL L 24-14
September 30 Vanderbilt Tuscaloosa, AL W 51-28
October 7 Washington Seattle, WA W 20-17
October 14 Florida Tuscaloosa, AL W 23-12
October 21 Tennessee Knoxville, TN (Third Saturday in October) W 30-17
October 28 Virginia Tech Tuscaloosa, AL W 35-0
November 4 Mississippi State Birmingham, AL W 35-14
November 11 LSU Birmingham, AL W 31-10
December 2 Auburn Birmingham, AL (Iron Bowl) W 34-16
January 1 Penn State New Orleans, LA (Sugar Bowl) W 14-7

1979

1979 Alabama Crimson Tide football
National Champions
SEC Champions
Sugar Bowl, W 24-9 vs. Arkansas
Conference Southeastern Conference
Ranking
Coaches #1
AP #1
1979 record 12-0 (6-0 SEC)
Head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant

Home stadium

Bryant-Denny Stadium
Legion Field
Seasons
« 1978 1980 »

In 1979 the Alabama Crimson Tide capped off a decade of remarkable success with the seventh perfect season in program history, after 1925, 1930, 1934, 1945, 1961, and 1966 (not counting the 1897 "season" in which Bama played and won only one game).[24] The Tide defense recorded five shutouts and allowed only two teams to score in double digits. The offense scored thirty points or more seven times.

Despite this dominance Alabama had three close calls. Against Tennessee on October 20, Alabama fell behind 17-0 in the second quarter before rallying to win 27-17. Three weeks later, against LSU, all the Tide offense could scrape up was a single field goal, but it was enough to win 3-0. In the regular season finale against Auburn, after leading 14-3 at the half Alabama let Auburn take an 18-17 fourth quarter lead before winning 25-18. The Auburn and Tennessee games were the only two times in the 1979 season that Alabama trailed.[25] A 24-9 victory over Arkansas capped a 12-0 season and a unanimous national championship, Alabama's sixth wire service national title.

Date Opponent Site Result
September 8 Georgia Tech Atlanta, GA W 30-6
September 22 Baylor Birmingham, AL W 45-0
September 29 Vanderbilt Nashville, TN W 66-3
October 6 Wichita State Tuscaloosa, AL W 38-0
October 13 Florida Gainesville, FL W 40-0
October 20 Tennessee Birmingham, AL (Third Saturday in October) W 27-17
October 27 Virginia Tech Tuscaloosa, AL W 31-7
November 3 Mississippi State Tuscaloosa, AL W 24-7
November 10 LSU Baton Rouge, LA W 3-0
November 17 Miami Tuscaloosa, AL W 30-0
December 1 Auburn Birmingham, AL (Iron Bowl) W 25-18
January 1 Arkansas New Orleans, LA (Sugar Bowl) W 24-9

References

  1. ^ 1970 game recaps
  2. ^ All-time records
  3. ^ Dunnavant, Keith. Coach: The Life and Times of Paul "Bear" Bryant. 2005, St. Martin's Press, ISBN 0312348762, p. 255
  4. ^ Dunnavant, p.257
  5. ^ Dunnavant, p. 270-273
  6. ^ Dunnavant, p. 274
  7. ^ 1971 game recaps
  8. ^ a b 1972 game recaps
  9. ^ a b Rappaport, Ken, and Barry Wilner. Football Feuds: The Great College Football Rivalries. 2007, The Lyons Press, ISBN 9781599210148, p. 82
  10. ^ "Iron Bowl turns mortals into heroes", ESPN.com
  11. ^ 1973 game recaps
  12. ^ 1973 Sugar Bowl
  13. ^ a b c Greatest Bowl Games
  14. ^ UPI story
  15. ^ Florida State year-by-year
  16. ^ 1974 game recaps
  17. ^ Orange Bowl's most memorable games
  18. ^ 1975 game recaps
  19. ^ 1976 game recaps
  20. ^ 1977 game recaps
  21. ^ 1978 game recaps
  22. ^ Penn State Daily Collegian, 3 January 1979
  23. ^ "Sugar Bowl Memories", Tuscaloosa News
  24. ^ All-time results
  25. ^ 1979 game recaps

External links

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