5 best Alabama teams of all time
With 15 national titles and 28 conference championships, there have been no shortage of great teams to suit up for the University of Alabama.
With all of the legendary teams to come through the Capstone, which rank as the best of all time? Here are our top five Crimson Tide teams since 1892, the first year the university put together a football team:
5. 1961 (11-0): In just four years, Bear Bryant elevated Alabama from unranked to national champions. The Crimson Tide had one of the most dominating defenses in the last 60 years, allowing just 2.3 points per game and only allowing just a single opponent to score more than six points, and it came when they allowed seven to North Carolina State. In all, Alabama shut out six opponents on the season, rising to No. 1 after beating Auburn 34-0 and claiming the crown after a Sugar Bowl victory.
Notable: Alabama shut out its final five regular season opponents, outscoring them 151-0 in that span, while the 66 points the Tide hung on Richmond was the most they’d scored in a decade.
Best players: T Billy Neighbors (All-American), LB/OL Lee Roy Jordan (All-SEC)
Memorable game: Alabama’s 10-3 win over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl was the first meeting between the two schools. Arkansas, led by coach Frank Broyles, was the only ranked team Alabama faced all season. Alabama jumped out to a 10-0 at halftime, and limited Arkansas to just a field goal in the second half. After the game, Alabama was voted national champion.
4. 2011 (12-1): Nick Saban’s second championship team at Alabama was as loaded as any in Alabama history. The defense was one of the best in school history, leading the nation in total yards, scoring, rushing and passing defense. The only loss that year came at home against No. 1 LSU, a 9-6 nail biter that was billed as “The Game of the Century,” with No. 2 Alabama missing four field goals. The Crimson Tide avenged that loss in the national championship game, pitching a 21-0 shutout to claim the school’s 14th national title.
Notable: Alabama set the BCS-era record for stingiest defense, allowing just 8.2 points per game.
Best players: RB Trent Richardson (Doak Walker, All-American), LB Dont’a Hightower (All-American), C Barrett Jones (Outland Trophy, All-American)
Memorable game: The regular season tilt against LSU stands as a painful loss, but the Crimson Tide more than made up for it in the BCS championship rematch. They held the Tigers to just 92 yards of total offense in a bludgeoning victory that many say spurred on the change to a playoff system.
3. 1992 (13-0): Perhaps the most surprising national champion in Alabama history, the 1992 team rolled through the season undefeated in Gene Stallings’ third year as head coach. The team fielded the best defense in the nation, allowing 9.2 points per game, eventually defeating defending champion Miami (Fla.) in the Sugar Bowl to take the national title.
Notable: Alabama celebrated its centennial anniversary of the football program, winning its first national championship in 13 years — then the longest gap between titles since Bryant took over as coach.
Best players: DE John Copeland (All-American), CB Antonio Langham, RB David Palmer
Memorable game: In the first SEC championship game, Alabama came up against Steve Spurrier’s high-powered Florida offense. Gators QB Shane Matthews took it to the vaunted Tide defense, putting up 287 yards against a defense that had been allowing less than half of that for the season. Florida struck first, but Alabama scored 21 unanswered points and held on to win, 28-21.
2. 1979 (12-0): Bryant’s sixth and final championship team dominated the 1979 season from start to finish. The team opened the season ranked No. 2, moved up to No. 1 by mid-October and stayed there through the end of the season. As was Bryant’s trademark, Alabama held opponents to the lowest scoring average in the nation, while holding SEC opponents to a meager 7.5 points per game.
Notable: The repeat championship (Alabama also won the national title in 1978) was the second double-dip of Bryant’s career; Alabama’s perfect season was the seventh in school history.
Best players: CB Don McNeal (All-American), C Dwight Stephenson (All-American)
Memorable game: Alabama only trailed in two games all season, one of them against rival Auburn. The No. 14 Tigers grabbed an 18-17 lead late in the game, but Alabama opened the fourth quarter with an 82-yard drive to push ahead, 25-18, a lead they would hold through the final whistle.
1. 2009 (14-0): Saban’s first championship team stands alone in Alabama history, the only team to win 14 games in a season. It was a transformative team that brought the Crimson Tide into the modern era, and it was absolutely loaded, with 16 future NFL draft picks on the roster. The 14-0 mark was the ninth perfect season in school history.
Notable: Mark Ingram’s Heisman win was the first in school history; Alabama beat the three previous national champions (Texas, LSU and Florida) on their way to the BCS title.
Best players: RB Mark Ingram (Heisman Trophy, All-American), LB Rolando McClain (Butkus Award, All-American)
Memorable game: The SEC title game was what many considered the de facto national championship, pitting two undefeated SEC schools against each other. No. 2 Alabama gained revenge for their 2008 conference championship defeat, knocking off the No.1 and defending national champion Florida Gators in Tim Tebow’s final SEC game.