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Football Flashback: Thanksgiving Day Memories



Nov. 26, 2009

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Thanksgiving holiday is a time to reflect.  Families will gather around the table today and talk about the things they are most grateful for as they carve the turkey and enjoy a home-cooked meal.

The following day will be a day to gather with friends to watch the annual Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn.  Alabama leads the all-time series 39-33-1.  The teams are meeting for the 74th time this season and have met every year since 1948. 

As the Thanksgiving holiday arrives, here is a look back at some of the Crimson Tide football games played on Thanksgiving Day, including wins over the Tigers in 1964 and 1992.

Alabama has played 43 Thanksgiving Day games in its history, compiling a 30-12-1overall record.  Alabama and Auburn met on Thanksgiving Day in 1893 and 1894 in Montgomery, but the Crimson Tide’s Thanksgiving Day tradition really kicked in at the turn of the century. 

The Crimson Tide played every year on Thanksgiving Day from 1900-38, with most of the games taking place at Birmingham’s Legion Field.   Alabama played the likes of Clemson, Tennessee, Georgia Tech, LSU, Mississippi State, Mississippi and Georgia among its traditional opponents. 

In 1931, Alabama and Vanderbilt began a home-and-home series that took place on Thanksgiving Day.  Vanderbilt hosted the game in 1931, 1933, 1935 and 1937, while Alabama served as host in 1932, 1934, 1936 and 1938,

Alabama’s 7-0 win over Vanderbilt on Nov. 24, 1938 at Legion Field would end a 38-year Thanksgiving Day tradition. 

The Crimson Tide would not play another Thanksgiving Day game until Nov. 26, 1964 when No. 2 Alabama beat Auburn 21-14 at Legion Field.  Alabama trailed 7-6 at halftime before Ray Odgen sent chills down everyone’s spine with a sparkling 107-yard kickoff return to open the second half that gave the Tide a 14-7 lead.  Joe Namath and Ray Perkins teamed up on a 23-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter to put the Tide in front 21-7. Auburn added a late score when Jimmy Sidle caught a 16-yard TD pass from Tom Bryan.

On Nov. 22, 1973, Alabama scored a 21-7 win over LSU on Thanksgiving Night at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge.  The No. 2 ranked Crimson Tide scored two second quarter touchdowns to take a 14-0 halftime lead. Gary Rutledge scored the first one on a 19-yard run and then threw a 43-yard pass to George Pugh for the second score.  Rutledge and Wayne Wheeler teamed up on a 77-yard TD pass in the third quarter for a 21-0 lead.  LSU’s lone score came in the final quarter.

Alabama’s last Thanksgiving Day game took place on Nov. 26, 1992 at Legion Field.   In that game, No. 2 Alabama blanked Auburn 17-0 with a stifling defensive effort.  Antonio Langham’s 61-yard interception return snapped a scoreless tie in the third quarter and propelled the Tide to the victory.  The Alabama defense was relentless in the shutout win over the Tigers.

The Crimson Tide has carved out its own piece of history on Thanksgiving Day, from Ray Ogden to Gary Rutledge to Antonio Langham.  The memories and victories are something we can all be thankful for this season.