The Historical: A look back at Alabama – Southern Mississippi
This week, the Alabama Crimson Tide welcomes the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles in a game few predict to be very competitive. That said, the Southern Miss-Alabama series is old and has seen some upheaval.
The teams first met in 1947, when Harold “Red” Drew’s Tide defeated the Golden Eagles 34-7 at Legion Field. For nine of the next ten years, the teams came together and the results showed what we expected from USM, as the Eagles became more and more competitive, then did the unlikely – win on the road against the Tide. In 1953, USM won a decisive victory by beating the SEC champions 25-19 at Montgomery. The result was no fluke, as Southern Miss again beat Alabama the following season, 7-2. 1955 would usher in a new head coach, JB “Ears” Whitworth, the two meeting in the 1956 13-13 draw.
Having a clean cupcake in recent reunions has a way of chilling a streak, and Alabama didn’t face USM for a full decade when Paul Bryant’s team in 1966 won a stifling 34- win. 0. Bryant, wearing his AD hat, scheduled the Eagles repeatedly for the next 15 years, going 10-0, until the 1981 season. This reunion, perhaps more than anything, showed the Both the decline in coaching skills and the talent of the unqualified Eagles, when USM knocked out a 13-13 tie against the fragile SEC champions. In 1982, USM completed what it had started, winning 38-29 to Tuscaloosa. There’s no way to underestimate the impact of that loss, nor that it was another defining moment for the Golden Eagles schedule. Paul Bryant’s all-time record in what is now Bryant-Denny Stadium was a ridiculous 72-2. The last time the man lost in Tuscaloosa was in 1963, to the Florida Gators. Nonetheless, the Bear’s farewell season in 1983 ended with a 28-16 home victory over USM.
The next 15 years of the series would be largely uneventful, with Ray Perkins posting a 2-0 mark and Bill Curry going 3-0 in the past four years.
The arrival of Gene Stallings marked a new turning point in the decidedly stranger rivalry, starting with the first game of his inaugural season at Legion Field on September 8, 1990. The 13the Ranked Crimson Tide entered Legion Field to meet an unranked Golden Eagles team in what most thought was a comfortable win. But, there was a kid across Kiln, Mississippi who had different thoughts, as the tide fell 27-24. Maybe you’ve heard of Brett Favre? I’m sure Alabama, as the Southern Miss – the “anyone, anywhere” home school, had just beaten Florida State the year before thanks to Favre’s right-hand man. .
It was also not a one-off result. The Tide wouldn’t have faced the Golden Eagles in 1991, but in 1992 they did … and Southern Miss almost turned the tide, losing 17-10. By the way, this final was the closest victory Alabama would have on the way to win the 1992 national championship. The teams met for the next six to six years, with Alabama winning them all (though not always comfortably.)
Enter the 2000 season, where an Alabama team fresh out of a 1999 SEC Championship that included a Florida Gators sweep, held a high No.3 ranking. Alabama suffered a calamitous road loss to the UCLA to open the season and hadn’t been remarkable in a tune-up against Vanderbilt. , there were many rambling and listless losses. And I saw a lot of them. However, not many can match the low-energy, low-energy crowd in this game, or the way a mid-major team absolutely whipped our ass up and down the pitch. I think I threw up at this point (first clip):
The 2000 season culminated with the sacking of Mike Dubose alongside his time bomb of NCAA violations, a sexual harassment scandal and a dismal 3-8 record that included losses to Central Florida and a tie at the bottom of the division with the modest Ole Miss.
Dennis “Hold the Rope” Franchione arrived the following season and, during his brief tenure, left USM 2-0, demanding some sort of tasteless retribution in relatively trivial matches. Mike Shula was next on the agenda and, for all his faults, was clear against Southern Miss. During that 3-0 stretch, however, the series saw another defining moment: Prothro’s catching-up in 2005 before halftime, in a play that saved the game and ultimately bowl eligibility for the game. ‘Alabama.
The two teams won’t meet again until 2019, as junior QB stud Tua Tagovailoa threw five touchdowns, Ram BRob added another, and now Cincinatti star Jerome Ford rushed for a score for complete Bama’s 49-7. rout.
These Eagles don’t appear to be much more competitive than the 2019 crew, but 40-year-old former Tulane / ULL OC Will Hall played the Eagles a little better than last season’s disaster under Jay Hopson. It is also a team whose identity is formed defensively and on the field, on the line of scrimmage. After Saturday’s Florida debacle, this must give Tide’s Front Seven a break. Will has also done a good job attracting local talent and babysitting former athletes. His first class Golden Eagles was 5th in C-USA, up from 11, 9 and 7 the three previous seasons. On the roster, the Eagles have Miami’s RB Frank Gore Jr. (of course), who was a second-team All-CUSA selection, and transfer WVU WR QB, Trey Lowe, grandson of great Woodrow Lowe. de Bama – and both were the top 60 players at their posts.
So when you step into Bryant-Denny be aware that USM can be a dangerous opponent. They’re a proud team, with a great history, and it’s a story that includes the staging of the unlikely against the Crimson Tide. It’s also a long story, since USM ranks 9e in the all-time adversaries faced by the Crimson Tide – both facing even more than founding members of the SEC, Kentucky and Florida.
We’ll have more on this game later this week. Rolling tide
Did you know:
That the first meeting took place in 1947?
That the series record is 33-6-2?
That the last meeting was a 30-21 victory in Alabama in 2005?
Southern Miss’s winning percentage (14.3%) equals Clemson’s (14.3%) and exceeds Ole Miss (14%).