Orange Bowl Committee Honors Alabama on the 50th Anniversary of its 1966 Orange Bowl Win
Alabama defeated Nebraska 39-28 to claim its eighth National Championship
The Orange Bowl Committee is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Alabama Crimson Tide’s 1965 National Championship season that concluded with a victory over Nebraska in the 1966 Orange Bowl. The win clinched Alabama’s eighth National Championship and was the programs second straight national title and Orange Bowl berth.
Orange Bowl Committee members Jeff Rubin and Julio Ramirez will be traveling to Tuscaloosa to honor the team during its home game on September 19th against Ole Miss. They will present members of the Crimson Tide’s 1965 National Championship team with a commemorative game ball honoring their accomplishment and the game’s golden anniversary.
1965 saw an Alabama team finish the regular season 8-1-1 and ranked No. 4 nationally heading into the postseason. After No. 1 Michigan State and No. 2 Arkansas lost in the Rose Bowl and Cotton Bowl, respectively, Alabama had a chance for a second consecutive national title with a win against Nebraska in the 1966 Orange Bowl. It was the first year that the Associated Press crowned its national champion after the bowls, something that became permanent starting with the 1968 season.
Alabama struck first as the game’s two eventual stars connected for a touchdown in the first quarter. Quarterback Steve Sloan’s 21-yard pass to Ray Perkins put the Crimson Tide on top 7-0. Nebraska would answer with a Bob Churchich-to-Tony Jeter touchdown pass. Alabama responded with a touchdown of its own to take a 14-7 lead and after another Nebraska punt, Sloan found Perkins for the second time in the end zone as Alabama opened a two-touchdown lead before the half.
Momentum would swing once again on the ensuing kickoff when Alabama was able to recover an onside kick and add a field goal to take a 24-7 halftime lead. The two teams traded scoring plays in the second half but the halftime deficit plus two costly turnovers were too much for Nebraska to overcome and Alabama emerged victorious.
Steve Sloan was named the Most Outstanding Player, finishing 20-28 for 296 and two touchdowns. Both his 20 completions and 296 yards were Orange Bowl records at the time. Sloan’s 296-yard performance still ranks ninth all-time. Ray Perkins’ nine receptions and 159 receiving yards both set Orange Bowl records as well. Perkins’ 159-yard mark stood for 33 years and currently is tied for fifth all-time. He ranks second all-time in Orange Bowl career receiving yards with 224.
The 39-28 win avenged the team’s defeat in the Orange Bowl the previous year at the hands of the Texas Longhorns. The Crimson Tide was awarded the 1964 national championship after finishing the regular season undefeated and prior to their 1965 Orange Bowl loss to Texas. The heroics of Joe Namath, the game’s Most Outstanding Player, were not enough and Texas went on to win 21-17.
The 1966 Orange Bowl was Alabama’s fifth Orange Bowl appearance at that time. They currently have nine such appearances, tied with Florida State and Miami for third most all-time. It was the second of four National Championship Games in which Alabama played at the Orange Bowl. Three of those years they were crowned National Champions and Oklahoma and Nebraska are the only two teams who have played in more National Championship Games at the Orange Bowl.
The victory over Nebraska in 1966 earned legendary coach and Orange Bowl Hall-of-Famer Bear Bryant his third National Championship with Alabama. He would go on to win a total of six titles with the Crimson Tide. It was also his fourth of six career Orange Bowl appearances as a head coach; one with Kentucky in 1949 and the latter five with Alabama (1962, ’64-65, ’71, ’74). In 1966 Bryant defeated one of the game’s other legendary coaches and fellow Orange Bowl Hall-of-Famer, Bob Devaney.
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