Photo courtesy of University of Alabama.
In 1979, Paul “Bear“ Bryant won his sixth national championship, leading the Crimson Tide to a perfect 12-0 finish and sweeping all the major polls.
That’s all Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide wants to do.
From the first moments of off-season workouts last winter, with the 2011 title still fresh in the air, the 2012 Alabama team has been focused one one goal: Repeating as national champion.
It’s a rare feat, accomplished only 10 times since the AP poll began in 1936. Twice in the modern age, Alabama has gone back-to-back, both under Paul “Bear“ Bryant: 1964-65 and 1978-79. Twice, it came close to the elusive threepeat.
So as Saban’s Tide goes in search of a second straight title, and a third in four years, CRIMSON REPLAY takes you back to 1979, revisiting the summit of the Bryant era with Eight Powerful Stats About the Last Bama Team to Repeat…
With quarterback Steadman Shealy leading the way, Alabama’s wishbone clicked at near perfection week after dominating week, averaging 344.7 yards rushing per game and moving the chains at a school-record clip, averaging 23.9 first downs per Saturday. After rebounding from a devastating knee injury prior to the 1978 season, Shealy (who amassed 1,508 yards of total offense) ran the triple option with tremendous skill and poise, utilizing the significant running talents of halfback Major Ogilvie (512 yards and 9 TDs on 97 carries) and fullback Steve Whitman (653 yards and 3 TDs on 126 carries) and passing just enough to keep the defense honest, especially to split end Keith Pugh (25 catches for 433 yards and 2 TDs).
Several Alabama teams can make a powerful case for having the stingiest defense, and the 1979 Crimson Tide has to be in the conversation. The unit, led by Thomas Boyd (team-best 92 tackles), E.J. Junior and Don McNeal, joined the 1933 and 1961 teams by achieving a truly remarkable defensive stat: allowing just two rushing touchdowns the entire year. The 1979 Crimson Tide, which led the nation in total defense, surrendered just 5.58 points per game, best of the decade in Tuscaloosa; snagged a school-record 25 interceptions, paced by Tommy Wilcox and Ricky Tucker (four each); and recorded five shutouts.
The methodical domination of Alabama’s offense would not have been possible without one of the most powerful offensive lines in school history, which averaged 240 pounds per man, formidable for the day but tiny by 21st Century standards. A total of four different starters in the trenches earned All-SEC honors, including All-America center Dwight Stephenson, All-America tackle Jim Bunch, first team All-SEC pick Mike Brock at left guard, and second team All-SEC choice Buddy Aydelette at left tackle.
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