10 Greatest Alabama Football Teams of All Time

For a program like Alabama, even a national championship won't guarantee a spot on this list

Controversy aside, if Alabama wins the College Football Playoff, it will be the only school to garner two national championships without winning its division, much less its conference. The Crimson Tide accomplished the same feat in 2011.

 

If Alabama does win out, will this year’s team be one of its 10 greatest ever? I can tell you now that the answer is absolutely not and that’s not because of the controversy. It is because Alabama is one of the greatest programs in college football and the 10 teams on this list simply had better seasons.

 

10. 2012

Record: 13-1

Finished: Beat Notre Dame 42-14 in the BCS National Championship Game

Final Ranking: No. 1

Defending national champion Alabama was upset late in the season by Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M, but won its last two regular season games and beat Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. That was enough to put the Crimson Tide in the BCS National Championship Game, where they throttled previously undefeated and top-ranked Notre Dame to win a second straight title.

 

9. 1978

Record: 11-1

Finished: Beat Penn State 14-7 in the Sugar Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 1

The Crimson Tide opened 1978 with a gauntlet of non-conference games, beating Nebraska and Missouri, but losing to USC. Alabama then won the remainder of its games to earn a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup with Penn State in the Sugar Bowl. There, the Crimson Tide took home a share of the national title thanks to one of the greatest goal-line stands in college football history.

 

8. 2015

Record: 14-1

Finished: Beat Clemson 45-40 in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game

Final Ranking: No. 1

The Crimson Tide lost early in the season to Ole Miss, but would not lose again thanks to its top-ranked defense and an offense powered by Heisman Trophy-winning running back Derrick Henry. In the national championship game, Alabama found itself in a shootout with undefeated Clemson, but proved to have more firepower. The win gave Nick Saban his fourth national title in Tuscaloosa.

 

7. 1930

Record: 10-0

Finished: Beat Washington State 24-0 in the Rose Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 1 (named by College Football Researchers Association and other ranking bodies)

Wallace Wade’s last team at Alabama was his best, holding its opponents to a collective 13 points for the entire season. The Crimson Tide shared the national championship for this season with Notre Dame.

 

6. 1966

Record: 11-0

Finished: Beat Nebraska 34-7 in the Sugar Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 3

This is the only team on this list to not win a national championship. Alabama had a chance to three-peat as national champions and remained perfect for the season, but all eyes were focused on Michigan State, Notre Dame and the two teams’ epic tie. Opinions vary on why Alabama was barely considered for the title, but all can agree that the ’66 squad was one of the best teams Bear Bryant ever fielded.

 

5. 1934

Record: 10-0

Finished: Beat Stanford 29-13 in the Rose Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 1 (named by Berryman QPRS and other ranking bodies)

The offense had Don Hutson, the greatest receiver of the first half of the 20th century. The defense shut out six teams en route to an undefeated season as the Crimson Tide beat all of its opponents except one by at least two touchdowns. It is also important to note that Bear Bryant was a starting end on that team.

 

4. 1992

Record: 13-0

Finished: Beat Miami 34-13 in the Sugar Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 1

Sporting one of the best defenses in college football history, the 1992 Alabama team seemed to beat all of its opponents in workman-like fashion. Then in the Sugar Bowl, the Crimson Tide embarrassed defending national champion and eight-point favorite Miami in what Sports Illustrated called “one of the more spectacular comeuppances in the history of sport.”

 

3. 1979

Record: 12-0

Finished: Beat Arkansas 24-9 in the Sugar Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 1

The 1979 squad picked up right where the '78 team left off, going undefeated and winning all but four of its games by 20 points or more. The repeat national championship was the sixth and last of Bear Bryant’s career.

 

2. 1961

Record: 11-0

Finished: Beat Arkansas 10-3 in the Sugar Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 1

Bear Bryant’s first national championship team dominated from start to finish, holding its opponents to a total of 25 points. The Crimson Tide would go on to win five more national titles under Bryant.

 

1. 2009

Record: 14-0

Finished: Beat Texas 37-21 in the Rose Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 1

Alabama entered the season with arguably the toughest schedule in college football. No problem. The Crimson Tide recorded their second straight undefeated regular season and beat top-ranked and defending national champion Florida in the SEC title game. Then they beat Texas in the Rose Bowl to give Nick Saban his first national championship in Tuscaloosa. Oh, and Mark Ingram became Alabama’s first Heisman Trophy winner too.

 

— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.

Event Date: 
Thursday, December 28, 2017 - 07:19

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