Christopher Walsh’s All Things CW notes column will appear in five parts this week, one each day like Alabama. The Crimson Tide prepares to host Auburn for the Iron Bowl.
This is …
Throwback Thanksgiving? Sure why not?
If you spend much time on the internet, chances are you’re too young to remember, but Alabama football was played on Thanksgiving. It’s not like they go together like dressing and gravy (or cranberries and mashed sweet potatoes if you prefer), but the Crimson Tide played traditional for the holiday.
Currently, of course, the annual Iron Bowl rivalry between Alabama and Auburn is played on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. As a result, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the last time the Crimson Tide played was on a holiday against the Tigers.
It was 1992, November 26 to be exact, and undefeated Alabama moved up to No. 2 in the polls. The Crimson Tide had already wrapped up their first SEC West Division title, and in an effort to keep his team in the same routine, Gene Stallings mixed things up during the previous bye week by giving players Monday through Wednesday off and starting practice for the game on Thursday. .
Regardless, Auburn coach Pat Dye stole all the headlines by announcing his resignation less than 24 hours before the game.
The move helped motivate Auburn, but in the end it didn’t matter. The Tigers held the Crimson Tide scoreless in the first half, but never cracked Alabama’s prolific defense en route to a 17-0 loss.
Auburn only crossed the middle of the field four times and never got closer to the end zone than the 30-yard line, while Alabama posted a single shutout, the only one Dye ever held.
“Ten is not a big deal unless you have a defense like Alabama has, and then it’s monumental,” Dye said. “Alabama might have the best defense I’ve seen in our conference.
The Crimson Tide produced just 20 rushing yards and 139 total yards, sacking Stan White five times and even opening the scoring with a touchdown. Early in the third quarter, Antonio Langham jumped a route and took off 61 yards to return for an interception.
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“I looked up and all I could see in front of me was green,” Langham said.
Of course, Alabama won the national championship.
Overall, Alabama had stinkers playing Tennessee, Mississippi State, Georgia and Vanderbilt over the holidays. However, the first Thanksgiving game dates back to 1893-4, the second and third seasons of the Crimson Tide, which played the then-new sport. It faced Auburn on vacation back-to-back years in neutral territory, Montgomery, lost the first 40-16, and won the rematch a year later, 18-0.
Most of the Crimson Tide’s Thanksgiving games were held from 1900-38 and usually at Legion Field in Birmingham. In fact, the first game at what was then Municipal Stadium was played on Thanksgiving Day in 1927, a 20-6 loss to Georgia.
At the end of that time period, Alabama and Vanderbilt played every year from 1931 to 1938 with several home games on Thanksgiving.
Alabama played at least twice during the holiday, but only one of those was against Auburn at Legion Field:
• On Nov. 26, 1964, the No. 2 Crimson Tide were trailing 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 for a 23-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that ended up being the difference in a 21–14 victory.
• On Nov. 22, 1973, No. 2 Alabama went undefeated with a 21-7 victory at LSU. Gary Rutledge accounted for two touchdowns in the second quarter, on a 19-yard run and a 43-yard pass to George Pugh. Wayne Wheeler had the second score on a 77-yard reception.
Crimson Tide Games on Thanksgiving Day
- 1893 Auburn at Montgomery, L 40-16
- 1894 Auburn at Montgomery, W 18-0
- 1900 Clemson at Birmingham, L 35-0
- 1901 Tennessee at Birmingham, T 6-6
- 1902 Georgia Tech at Birmingham, W 26-0
- 1903 Tennessee at Birmingham, W 24-0
- 1904 Tennessee at Birmingham, L 5-0
- 1905 Tennessee at Birmingham, W 29-0
- 1906 Tennessee at Birmingham, W 51-0
- 1907 Tennessee at Birmingham, W 5-0
- 1908 Tennessee at Birmingham, W 4-0
- 1909 LSU at Birmingham, L 12-6
- 1910 Washington & Lee at Birmingham, W 9-0
- 1911 Davidson at Birmingham, W 16-6
- 1912 Tennessee at Birmingham, W 7-0
- 1913 Mississippi State at Birmingham, L 7-0
- 1914 Mississippi State at Birmingham, L 9-0
- 1915 Ole Miss at Birmingham, W 53-0
- 1916 Georgia at Birmingham, L 3-0
- 1917 Camp Gordon at Birmingham, L 19-6
- 1919 Mississippi State at Birmingham, W 14-6
- 1920 Mississippi State at Birmingham, W 24-7
- 1921 Mississippi State at Birmingham, T 7-7
- 1924 Georgia at Birmingham, W 33-0
- 1925 Georgia at Birmingham, W 27-0
- 1926 Georgia at Birmingham, W 33-6
- 1927 Georgia at Birmingham, L 20-6
- 1928 Georgia at Birmingham, W 19-0
- 1929 Georgia at Birmingham, L 12-0
- 1930 Georgia at Birmingham, W 13-0
- 1931 Vanderbilt at Nashville, W 14-6
- 1932 Vanderbilt at Birmingham, W 20-0
- 1935 Vanderbilt at Nashville, L 14-6
- 1936 Vanderbilt at Birmingham W 14-6
- 1937 Vanderbilt at Nashville, W 9-7
- 1938 Vanderbilt at Birmingham, W 7-0
- 1964 Auburn at Birmingham, W 21-14
- 1973 LSU at Baton Rouge, W 21-7
- 1992 Auburn at Birmingham, W 17-0
Take 1: The biggest rivalry really isn’t up for discussion, Alabama-Auburn
Take 2: Should Bryce Young Contend for the Heisman Trophy?
Take 3: College Sports, They Are A-Changin’
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