Crimson Tide Tournament of Champions, Round of 16: 1926 vs. 1992

Courtesy of the Bryant Museum

Game 3 in the bracket features 1992 The Return to Greatness vs. 1926 Back to the Rose Bowl

The Crimson Tide’s Tournament of Champions features Alabama's top 16 national title teams in bracket-style single-elimination tournament, with the winners determined by voting from BamaCentral.com readers.

Game 3, in the Round of 16, features the 1992 national championship team under Gene Stallings, against the 1926 team that returned to the Rose Bowl.

To vote: @BamaCentral

1926 Back to the Rose Bowl

In 1925, Alabama was not the first choice of the selection committee to play in the Rose Bowl, but it proved worthy by pulling off a 20-19 upset of Washington to win its first national championship.

A year later, many wondered if it could possibly do so again, especially after being thrust into the national spotlight by being the first Southern team to play in the high-profile game.

Although standouts Pooley Hubert and Johnny Mack Brown had moved on, Alabama continued to discredit its naysayers and critics with another undefeated regular season that included six shutouts, with the only close game a 2-0 victory against Sewanee decided by a blocked punt that went out of the end zone.

Led by All-Americans Fred Pickhard and Hoyt “Wu” Winslett, along with All-Southern Conference backs Herschel Caldwell and Emile Barnes, and center Gordon “Sherlock” Holmes, the Crimson Tide outscored its regular-season opponents 242-20. Similar to the previous year, the Southern Conference championship came down to a season-ending showdown with Georgia, and for the third straight year Alabama left with the title in tow – this time thanks to a convincing 33-6 Thanksgiving victory.

This time, Alabama didn’t have to wait for Rose Bowl officials to first ask a host of East Coast powers to make the trip to play on January 1, 1927. It was the clear and obvious choice, and eager for an opportunity to both defend its accomplishments and prove that the previous year was not a fluke. Again, the hopes of the South rested with the men from Tuscaloosa, who were, not surprisingly, considered underdogs.

On the opposing side was Stanford, coached by the legendary Glenn “Pop” Warner, who had already made quite a name for himself and boasted the West Coast’s finest team that season. Jack James of the International News Service wrote in reference to Stanford’s 13-12 victory against USC: “Football followers of this vicinity cannot forget the bewildering deception, the concentrated power, the grim determination of the afternoon. And because they remember, they figure that Alabama, or any other ball club, would have to be just short of super-human to deny a repetition of that attack.”

Alabama was outplayed, but Stanford could never put the game away. In the closing minutes, the Crimson Tide scored a touchdown for a 7-7 standoff and 9-0-1 record. Pickhard was selected MVP of the Rose Bowl, and the game was the first transcontinental radio broadcast of a sporting event on NBC.

Because most services at the time held their final rankings at the conclusion of the regular season, both teams along with Lafayette and Navy had already been declared national champions by at least one organization prior to the game – Alabama’s second title.

1926 Crimson Tide

Coach Wallace Wade        

Captain: Emile “Red” Barnes

Record: 9-0-1; Total points: 249-27

Date, opponent, location, W/L, score

Sept. 24 Millsaps    Tuscaloosa   W  54-0

Oct. 2   Vanderbilt    Nashville   W  19-7

Oct. 9   Mississippi State   Meridian   W  26-7

Oct. 16   Georgia Tech    Atlanta    W  21-0

Oct. 23   Sewanee    Birmingham   W  2-0

Oct. 30   LSU     Tuscaloosa   W  24-0

Nov. 6   Kentucky    Birmingham   W 14-0

Nov. 13  Florida     Montgomery   W  49-0

Nov. 25  Georgia    Birmingham   W  33-6

Jan. 1, 1927  Stanford    Rose Bowl   T  7-7

Honors

All-American: First team _ Hoyt “Wu” Winslett, end; Fred Pickhard, tackle.

All-Southern Conference: Emile Barnes, Back; Herschel Caldwell, back; Gordon Holmes, center; Fred Pickhard, tackle; Hoyt Winslett, end.

1992 The Return to Greatness

It was the centennial season of Alabama football, and the Crimson Tide was looking for its first national championship since Paul W. “Bear” Bryant’s final title in 1979. Even though it was coming off an 11-1 season, and No. 5 final ranking, few believed this would be the year, and Alabama began the season No. 9.

The victories starting piling up, though many were not pretty: 25-8 against Vanderbilt, 17-0 vs. Southern Miss, 38-11 at Arkansas, 13-0 vs. Louisiana Tech, 48-7 vs. South Carolina, 37-0 at Tulane. Against Tennessee, running back Derrick Lassic had 142 rushing yards to help lead a 17-0 victory in Knoxville.

“We finally got a little bit of respect,” Lassic said.

When the defense limited LSU to just 22 rushing yards in a commanding 31-11 road victory, and top-ranked Washington lost to Arizona, Alabama finally had its destiny in its own hands, but only if it could run the table and win the final three games.

The first was the Iron Bowl, with Auburn coach Pat Dye announcing his resignation the day before the game. The defense allowed 20 rushing yards, had five sacks, and Antonio Langham returned an interception 61 yards to key a 17-0 victory.

“Ten to nothing isn’t a very big deal unless you’ve got a defense like Alabama’s got, and then it’s monumental,” Dye said after his only shutout at Auburn. “Alabama may have the best defense I’ve seen in our conference.”

Alabama went into the first-ever SEC Championship game having outscored opponents 366-122. Again Langham returned an interception for a touchdown as the Tide defeated Florida, 28-21.

The third, and final, test was at the Sugar Bowl against No. 1 Miami, which was riding a 28-game winning streak and wanted to make sure everyone knew it. Among the numerous boastful things the Hurricanes said before the game was linebacker Michael Barrow’s: “We seek, we destroy. We fear no one, but everyone fears us.”

But Alabama didn’t, and for the most part kept quiet during its preparations. Although the Crimson Tide was considered a heavy underdog, its mission became simple, make the Hurricanes eat their words.

Did they ever.

Again led by the defense, Alabama began to take control in the second quarter. After shutting down the run, with the Hurricanes accumulating only 48 rushing yards, the Tide went to work on quarterback Gino Torretta, who had just won the Heisman Trophy.

“In the second quarter, I saw Torretta look over at me and he froze for a second,” defensive end John Copeland said. “I saw fear.”

At times, the Tide put all 11 defenders on the line of scrimmage and dared Torretta to try and beat the man coverage by defensive backs like Langham and safety George Teague, behind swarming ends Copeland and Eric Curry, and linebackers Lemanski Hall and Derrick Oden.

Meanwhile, the Tide offense never got around to establishing the passing game because it never had to. Quarterback Jay Barker threw for just 18 yards, with the ground game pounding out 267 rushing yards for an impressive 34-13 victory.

“There is a quote I’ve used before from Sir Isaac Newton,” Coach Gene Stallings said in a speech during the on-campus “Salute to Champions” weekend. “It says, ‘If I can see farther than most, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.’ Ladies and gentlemen, I have stood on the shoulders of giants.”

Fittingly, Stallings was a unanimous selection for coach of the year and presented the Paul Bryant Award by the Football Writers Association of America.

1992 Crimson Tide

Coach Gene Stallings        

Captains: Derrick Oden, George Teague, George Wilson, Prince Wimbley

Record 13-0; Total points: 366-122

Ranking (AP): Preseason No. 9; Postseason No. 1.

Date, opponent, location, W/L, score

Sept. 5   Vanderbilt    Tuscaloosa   W  25-8

Sept. 12  Southern Miss    Birmingham   W  17-10

Sept. 19  Arkansas    Little Rock   W  38-11

Sept. 26  Louisiana Tech   Birmingham   W  13-0

Oct. 3   South Carolina   Tuscaloosa   W  48-7

Oct. 10   Tulane     New Orleans   W  37-0

Oct. 17   Tennessee    Knoxville   W  17-10

Oct. 24   Ole Miss    Tuscaloosa   W  31-10

Nov. 7   LSU     Baton Rouge   W  31-11

Nov. 14  Mississippi State   Starkville   W  30-21

Nov. 26  Auburn  Birmingham   W  17-0

Dec. 5   Florida     Birmingham   W  28-21

Jan. 1, 1993  Miami (Fla.)    Sugar Bowl   W  34-13

Honors

All-American: First team _ John Copeland, defensive end; Eric Curry, defensive end; Antonio Langham, cornerback. Second team _ George Teague, safety.

All-SEC (first team): John Copeland, defensive end; Eric Curry, defensive end; Lemanski Hall, linebacker; Antonio Langham, cornerback; Derrick Lassic, tailback; Antonio London, linebacker; Derrick Oden, linebacker; Tobie Sheils, center; George Teague, safety.

Leaders

Rushing: Derrick Lassic 905 yards, 178 carries

Passing: Jay Barker 132 of 243, 1,614 yards

Receiving: David Palmer 24 catches, 297 yards

Tackles: Lemasnski Hall 70

Interceptions: Antonio Langham and George Teague 6

Sacks: John Copeland and Eric Curry 10.5

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