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That Championship Season


In 1990, Gene Stallings, who was thought to be Paul Bryant's first choice as the "Bear's" replacement, finally got his chance to take over the University of Alabama football program. Stallings mumbled low like Bryant, lumbered like Bryant and squinted like Bryant. He would also win like Bryant. In '91, he quietly steered the Tide to an 11-1 record. Alabama's following, which had fragmented over former coach Bill Curry, was gelling again. By the spring of '92, as the football centennial celebration began with the announcement of Alabama's all-century team, "I could sense our people coming together," said Stallings. By winning the 1992 National Championship, the 12th in its storied century of playing college football, Alabama provided the perfect climax to 100 years of Glory.


Game 1: September 5, 1992

Alabama 25 Vanderbilt 8

Freshman placekicker Michael Proctor connected on four field goals and quarterback Jay Barker completed 14 of 17 passes for 185 yards to lead the the Tide over SEC rival Vanderbilt. Linebacker Michael Rogers scored a fourth quarter touchdown on a 36-yard interception return, the last of six Commodore turnovers on the day. Remarked Vandy coach Gerry DiNardo, "It's hard to believe that we'll see a better defense than Alabama's." That would turn out to be the statement of the year.


Game 2: September 12, 1992

Alabama 17 Southern Mississippi 10

They say that offense wins games but defense wins championships. "They" must have been an Alabama fan. Southern Mississippi rushed the ball 27 times for only 28 yards. The Golden Eagles threw the ball 19 times for only 26 yards and only managed two first downs. Yet it took a fake punt and a stiff defense to hold off the Golden Eagles in Birmingham. Alabama opened the scoring with a 73-yard fake punt for a touchdown. But an interception and fumble led to 10 points for Southern Mississippi and a tie game. The Tide finally put together a 10 play 63-yard drive for the go ahead touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. "We were physically manhandled," said Southern Mississippi coach Jeff Bower. "We couldn't even run the draw."


Game 3: September 19, 1992

Alabama 38 Arkansas 11

Once again 'Bama's defense made a major impact on the field. But Gene Stalling's heart to heart talk with his offense earlier in the week apparently payed off. Senior running back Derrick Lassic rushed for 112 yards on 18 carries. The Tide offense racked up 467 yards in total offense and Jay Barker completed 14 of 17 passes for 192 yards and three touchdowns. Everyone forgot that the defense forced six turnovers, blocked a punt and held the Razorbacks to 28 yards rushing. Arkansas coach, Joe Kines commented after the game, "We may have seen the team that will win the national championship." Some premonition, huh?


Game 4: September 26, 1992

Alabama 13 Louisiana Tech 0

David Palmer made his first appearance of the season against Louisiana Tech and what a first impression he made. Finally back on the field after a three game suspension, the Deuce scored 'Bama's only touchdown of the game, a 63-yard punt return for a touchdown to give Alabama a hard earned 13-0 victory. Once again the Tide defense loomed large, holding the Bulldogs to an average of .79 of a yard per play. Tech coach Joe Raymond said after the game, "I appreciate Gene giving the kid (Palmer) another chance, of course I wish that he had come back next week though."


Game 5: October 3, 1992

Alabama 48 South Carolina 7

Ahhh, Homecoming at the Capstone. Nothing like an old fashioned thrashing Bryant style. The Tide dispatched of the Gamecocks with hardly having to lift a finger. It was 38-0 Alabama before South Carolina made a first down, and by halftime, five separate 'Bama players had scored a touchdown. Derrick Lassic and Chris Anderson each carried the ball 13 times for 100 and 120 yards each. The Tide rushed for a total of 356 yards and played all three quarterbacks in a game for the first time since 1987. The 'Bama defense held USC to 43 yards rushing on 37 carries. "I want to congratulate Coach Stallings on an impressive football team," said Sparky Woods, coach of South Carolina. "They have good speed in every position, and they dominated the line of scrimmage."


Game 6: October 10, 1992

Alabama 37 Tulane 0

Another lackluster performance, at least for one half, by the Tide offense once again raised questions about 'Bama's level of play. Alabama took a 6-0 lead into halftime along with a few worries. Tulane had been beaten by Ole Miss earlier in the season 35-9, surely the Tide would do the same. 'Bama finally got out of their funk and cruised to a 37-0 victory, thanks in part to a career day by tailback Derrick Lassic. Lassic had a career high 188 yards on 20 carries, and Chris Anderson had two fourth quarter touchdown runs to pace the Tide offense. Michael Proctor added three field goals while the Tide defense pitched their second shoutout of the season. Alabama's secondary coach, "Brother" Bill Oliver, commented after the game on what was very obvious to the rest of the football world. "I'm not telling anything that people don't already know. Tennessee was in the back of our mind. I know it was in the back of my mind."


Game 7: October 17, 1992

Alabama 17 Tennessee 10

The Third Saturday in October came and went and it was business as usual for the #4 ranked Crimson Tide. Alabama left Tennessee's Neyland Stadium with a 7-0 record and a 17 game winning streak still intact. 'Bama's defense entered the game as the #1 ranked defense in the nation. The Crimson Tide defense didn't dissapoint either, holding the Vols to only seven first downs and 78 yards rushing. Meanwhile on the other side of the ball, Derrick Lassic continued his impressive rushing by carrying the ball 33 times for a total of 142 yards. It was an important win for the Tide, their seventh over the Vols in as many years. Skeptics had claimed that the Crimson Tide defense had not been tested the way it would be against Tennessee. Consider it tested, and the Tide passed with flying colors.


Game 8: October 24, 1992

Alabama 31 Ole Miss 10

Coach Gene Stallings had the following message for his team following the Tennessee game: "We don't have anything to prove, but we do have a lot to play for." Apparently Jay Barker had something to prove. Although he entered the game with an 11-0 record as 'Bama's starting quarterback, Barker still had his detractors among the 'Bama faithful. Taking advantage of the Ole Miss defense, Barker connected on 25 of 39 pass attempts for 285 yards and a touchdown. For the game, Alabama's offense netted 368 total yards and converted nine of 10 third-down opportunities. It was the final on campus game of the year, and prompted Stallings to say, "You don't have to flaunt your success, but you don't have to apologize for it, either."


Game 9: November 7, 1992

Alabama 31 Lousiana State 11

They call LSU's Tiger Stadium "Death Valley" due to the tough conditions visiting teams must play under. The Tide was the exception to that rule, having gone 11-0-1 at LSU since the 1969 season. But nobody said it would be easy. Alabama commited several errors, among those being a blocked punt, a safety, a half-dozen penalties and four LSU sacks of quarterback Jay Barker. But once again the Tide defense stepped up and held the Tigers to just 22 yards rushing on 34 carries and sacked the LSU quarterback six times. Derrick Lassic left the game in the second quarter with an injury, but backups Sherman Williams (69 yards and two touchdowns) and Chris Anderson (149 yards and one touchdown) filled in well. When the #2 ranked Washington Huskies were upset by Arizona earlier in the day, 'Bama was all but assured of the No. 2 ranking when the polls came out the following week.


Game 10: November 14, 1992

Alabama 30 Mississippi State 21

It was a tale of two halves. The Crimson Tide appeared invincible for one half of football, taking a 20-3 lead over the Bulldogs. But an 18 point third quarter by Mississippi State gave coach Jackie Sherrill's Bulldogs a 21-20 lead going into the final quarter. The Tide finally got the lead back on Michael Proctor's 26 yard field goal early into the fourth quarter, and on State's next possession, Alabama's George Teague caught his 13th career interception which set up Chris Anderson's 1 yard touchdown plunge to give the Tide some breathing room at 30-21. When Teague caught interception number 14 with only seconds to play, Alabama had wrapped up the first SEC Western Division Championship and a berth in the innagural SEC Championship game.


Game 11: November 26, 1992

Alabama 17 Auburn 0

In what seemed like the same old story, the Alabama defense once again was called upon to meet the challenge becase of an inept offense. With their third shutout of the season, and first over Auburn since 1975, the Tide held the Tigers to only 20 yards rushing, intercepted two passes and sacked quarterback Stan White five times before knocking him out in the fourth quarter. The night before the game, Auburn coach Pat Dye announced his resignation effective immediately after the game with 'Bama. The emotional Tigers held 'Bama scoreless over the first thirty minutes. Finally in the third quarter Antonio Langham started the scoring by intercepting a pass and returning it 61 yards for a touchdown to give Alabama a 7-0 lead. Michael Proctor added a 47 yard field goal to give 'Bama a ten point lead heading into the fourth quarter. Sherman Williams added a 15 yard touchdown run to make the final score 17-0, which also was the only shutout of a Pat Dye coached team. After the game, coach Gene Stallings said, "We've won 11 games, and we still haven't won anything. We still haven't played our best game, it's out there somewhere."


Game 12: December 5, 1992 (SEC Championship)

Alabama 28 Florida 21

Coach Steve Spurrier and the Florida Gators figured to hold nothing back. 'Bama had seen nothing like it this season--in fact the Tide had seen nothing like it all season, the Fun and Gun offense. Florida scored on their first possession going 77 yards in just four minutes. Alabama answered with a 72 yard drive to tie the game 7-7. Alabama then scored two more touchdowns to take a 21-7 lead midway through the third quarter. When Florida scored a touchdown with eight minutes to play in the fourth quarter, the Gators tied the score at twenty-one. With just over three minutes to play in regulation, #12 Florida and #2 Alabama were still tied at twenty-one. Florida quarterback Shane Matthews stood under center, first and ten from his own 21 yard line. Taking a five step drop, Matthews released the ball and in stepped Antonio Langham who intercepted the pass and returned it 26 yards for the winning touchdown. A huge sigh of relief could be heard coming not only from the Alabama coaches box, but also from the representatives of the Sugar Bowl. A loss by Alabama would ruin the matchup of #1 Miami meeting #2 Alabama in the Crescent City. Needless to say, the defense bailed everyone out again, and landed the Tide a spot in the National Championship game. "Matthews threw the ball, I made my break," said Langham. "The rest is history."


Game 13: January 1, 1993 (National Championship)

Alabama 34 Miami 13

It was a long time in coming for the Alabama faithful, three coaches and one decade to be exact, but 'Bama won their 12th national championship on Jan. 1, 1993. In some ways it was one of the sweetest wins in Alabama history, due to the cockiness and brashness of the Miami Hurricane players. "I really don't think their offense can move the ball on our defense," remarked Miami wide receiver Lamar Thomas. That was one of the nicer things that was said in the days leading up to the showdown between Miami and Alabama. It was the team of the '70s (Alabama) going against the team of the '80s (Miami). Plus Miami was the defending National Champion and had a 29 game winning streak coming into the game. What was to transpire in the Louisiana Superdome would be a whipping that the Hurricanes would never forget.

David Palmer got the fireworks started by returning a Miami punt 44 yards to the Hurricane's 24 yard line. Alabama struck first on a Michael Proctor field goal from 19 yards out to take a 3-0 lead at the 10:56 mark. Miami answered with a 49 yard field goal of their own and at the end of the first quarter it was tied 3-3, despite two 'Bama turnovers. Alabama scored on another Proctor field goal, this time from 24 yards, to go up 6-3. Enter the defense, namely Sam Shade who returned a Geno Torretta interception 33 yards to the Miami 31 yard line. Five plays later, Sherman Williams scored on a two yard touchdown run to increase 'Bama's lead to 13-3. On the last play of the first half, Miami connected on a field goal to make it 13-6.

On Miami's first play of the second half, 'Bama cornerback Tommy Johnson stepped in front of yet another Torretta pass, returned it 23 yards, and the Tide was back in business deep in Miami territory. Six plays later, Derrick Lassic ran for a 1 yard touchdown and all of a sudden the great Miami Hurricanes were down 20-6. It would only get worse. Sixteen seconds later, George Teague returned another Torretta interception 31 yards and this time for a touchdown and suddenly Alabama was on top 27-6. That was how the quarter would end.......but not before George Teague made "The Play" on loudmouth Lamar Thomas.

With Miami facing second down and 10 at its own 11, the moment had arrived for Thomas to back up his week's worth of talk. With a hip fake at the left sideline, he burst past cornerback Willie Gaston and hauled in Torretta's pass at the Miami 36. It looked like a certain touchdown for the Hurricanes. Teague caught Thomas at the Alabama 15, but he was not content to make a tackle. Reaching over Thomas's right shoulder with his right hand, he stole the ball from Thomas, thereby effecting the most remarkable full-gallop fumble recovery in memory. An offside penalty against the Tide meant that Miami kept the ball--albeit 77 yards farther back than it would have been had Teague merely been able to tackle Thomas. Three plays later, Miami punted the ball to 'Bama.

Miami's only touchdown of the game came courtesy of the special teams, a 78 yard punt return to make it 27-13. Alabama responded by going on a 5 minute, 12 play drive that ended with Derrick Lassic scoring from 4 yards out to increase Alabama's lead to 34-13. From then on out it was all over but the shouting. For the record, Heisman Trophy winner Geno Torretta finished with 278 yards passing, but also threw three interceptions and did not lead the Hurricanes to an offensive touchdown. Miami was held to 48 yards rushing and fumbled the ball four times. It was like the Tide took Miami out behind the woodshed and gave 'em an old fashioned butt whooping. Gene Stallings had won the National Championship for the University of Alabama, and all was right in Tuscaloosa. Even the Bear would be proud.


1993 Sugar Bowl Game Stats

Miami (Fla)Alabama
First Downs1615
Offensive Plays7574
Rushing Attempts1860
Yards Rushing48267
Passes Completed/Attempted24/564/13
Yards Passing27818
Total Net Yards326285
Average Gain Per Play4.33.8
Fumbles: Number-Lost4--10--0
Interceptions: Number-Yards2--263--87
Penalties: Number-Yards6--377--46
Punt Returns: Number-Yards3--955--52
Time of Possession23:5636:04


Information for this page was taken from Sports Illustrated's edition of "That Championship Season."