Clemson vs. Alabama Football Game Notes

Aug. 27, 2008

Complete Football Game Notes

Clemson vs. Alabama Series Clemson and Alabama have two of the top football traditions in the South. Both have won National Championships and both programs have the most league titles in their respective conference histories. Clemson has won 13 ACC titles to lead ACC institutions, and Alabama has 21 to lead SEC institutions.

The two schools have not met on the gridiron since 1975 when Alabama defeated Clemson 56-0 in Tuscaloosa. Alabama has an 11-3 lead in the series that dates to a 35-0 Clemson victory in 1900. College football Hall of Fame Coach John Heisman was Clemson’s coach that day. Clemson won the first three games of the series, as the Tigers followed with shutout wins in 1904 and 1905. Alabama has won the last 11, so Clemson has not beaten Alabama since 1905.

Alabama did not score on Clemson in the first three meetings, then Clemson did not score on Alabama in four consecutive games played between 1934-1966. Alabama won a battle of strong teams in 1935, as Clemson entered the game with a 5-1 record and the Crimson Tide stood with a 5-1-1 mark. Alabama won the game played at Tuscaloosa, 33-0.

The two schools met four consecutive years from 1966-69. It was a series arranged by good friends Frank Howard of Clemson and Bear Bryant of Alabama. Howard was a 1931 Alabama graduate who went to Clemson the fall after he graduated and never left until his death in 1996. They decided late in Howard’s career to have a four-game home-and-home series. Clemson went to Alabama in 1966 and 1968 and Alabama came to Clemson in 1967 and 1969. The 1969 season was Howard’s final year as head coach.

The 1966 game was a contest between eventual conference champions. Alabama finished that season with an 11-0 record and won the SEC with a 6-0 conference mark. Clemson finished with a 6-4 record, but had a 6-1 record in the ACC. That year Clemson played ninth-ranked Georgia Tech, fourth-ranked Alabama and fifth-ranked Southern California, all on the road, as its non-conference schedule.

Bear Bryant came to Clemson for the first time in 1967 and the two teams did not disappoint the sellout crowd or 49,500 at Clemson Memorial Stadium. The contest ended with a 13-10 Alabama victory. Ken Stabler hit on 9-15 passes for 135 yards, including four connections for 110 yards to All-American Denis Homan. Clemson was led by Buddy Gore, the ACC Player of the Year that season, who had 23-73 rushing. Total offense was as close as the score, 276 for Alabama and 275 for Clemson.

Clemson had the ball in Alabama territory twice in the last eight minutes, but could not get on the scoreboard. “I hate to see a good bunch of boys go out against top competition and lose like that,” said Howard after the game in which Clemson missed two field goals. “We just beat them on defense, but they got what counts….the score. That pass receiver Homan is what really hurt us. We contained him better than I expected, but he made a couple of big plays that hurt us.”

Clemson came close again in 1968, but an Alabama team that finished with an 8-3 record and top 15 national ranking, beat Clemson at Tuscaloosa, 21-14. The following year, Clemson ran up and down the field, but lost, 38-13. Clemson had a 200-yard passer (Tommy Kendrick), a 100-yard rusher (Ray Yauger) and a 100-yard receiver (Charlie Waters), yet lost the game by 25 points.

After the game, then Alabama captain and future Clemson head coach Danny Ford presented Coach Bryant with a game ball that included a sticker with the number 100 on it. ( It was the 100th year of college football and teams wore a 100 logo, so all he had to do was take if off of his helmet.” The victory was Bryant’s 100th win at Alabama.

Howard and Bryant both died on January 26, Bryant in 1983 and Howard in 1996.