Homecoming football at Alabama: A look back at the 100-year tradition

Orry Cantrell, Contributing Writer

Alabama 21, LSU 0 (Nov. 11, 1920)  

This 1920 game against LSU kicked off the annual tradition of homecoming at the University of Alabama. Two years to the day after the end of World War I, the University held an Armistice Day celebration that involved many festivities and events. Among these was a football game to be played at Denny Field. The 7-0 Crimson Tide shut out the Tigers and held them to only three first downs in the entire game. 

Alabama 20, Mississippi State 19 (Nov. 2, 1963) 

In a matchup with its familiar homecoming foe, the Mississippi State Bulldogs, the Crimson Tide put together a much-needed scoring drive late in the fourth quarter. Legendary Crimson Tide quarterback Joe Namath put the team on his back and tied the game with a touchdown with just over four minutes to go. An extra point by kicker Tim Davis gave Alabama the lead and a defensive stop sealed the homecoming victory for the Crimson Tide. 

Alabama 21, Cincinnati 3 (Oct. 23, 1982)  

In Bear Bryant’s last homecoming as head coach of the Crimson Tide, the team crawled to a win against the Bearcats. The Crimson Tide played very sloppily, committing several penalties and turning the ball over. Bryant was not pleased with how his team performed.  

“We’ve got to get better disciplined and tougher if we want to win any more games, and I mean anymore,” Bryant said after the victory.  

The Crimson Tide would go on to lose three more games that season, but would finish with a victory over Illinois in the Liberty Bowl, ending Bryant’s time at Alabama. 

Alabama 24, UL Lafayette 17 (Oct. 14, 1989) 

The Crimson Tide entered this matchup against UL Lafayette at 4-0, expecting to win their third matchup in three years against the Ragin’ Cajuns. However, Alabama started out slowly and ended up trailing the Ragin’ Cajuns 10-7 going into the fourth quarter. A key interception by defensive back John Magnum turned the momentum in favor of the Crimson Tide, propelling the team to score 17 unanswered points. The Ragin’ Cajuns made one last-ditch effort to come back and were able to score a touchdown, but they were unable to recover the ensuing onside kick, sealing the victory for the Crimson Tide.  

Alabama 20, Ole Miss 17 (Oct. 10, 1998) 

The Rebels came to Tuscaloosa ready to play during the homecoming of ’98. This game remained close until the very end, with the teams trading blows throughout. Entering the fourth quarter, the Crimson Tide trailed 14-10 but were able to take the lead via a 33-yard touchdown catch by Shaun Alexander. However, the Rebels would tie the game with a field goal with a little over three minutes remaining in regulation. The Crimson Tide had a shot to win the game as time expired, but kicker Ryan Pflugner’s kick was blocked, sending the game to overtime. In OT, Alabama defensive back Steve Stanley had a clutch interception that led to a game-winning field goal by Pflugner. It was the first overtime victory in the history of Crimson Tide football.  

Alabama 20, South Carolina 6 (Oct. 17, 2009)  

The Crimson Tide entered this game on a tear. Led by the soon-to-be Heisman trophy winner Mark Ingram, Alabama came into the contest 6-0, having won every game by double figures. The No. 22 Gamecocks were not going to be steamrolled, however. They held Alabama to their fewest points so far that season — allowing just two touchdowns. The game remained close until the fourth quarter when Mark Ingram was able to ice the game with a four-yard touchdown run. The Crimson Tide would famously go on to defeat the Texas Longhorns in the Rose Bowl and win its first national championship of the Nick Saban era.  

Alabama 52 Tennessee 24 (Oct. 23, 2021) 

After what transpired last week, it is appropriate to highlight what happened when the Crimson Tide clashed with the Volunteers during last year’s homecoming week. Tennessee entered the game with three losses and a 14-game losing streak to the Crimson Tide. The Volunteers got out to an early one-touchdown lead in the first quarter. However, Alabama came alive during the second quarter, with Bryce Young scoring two touchdowns. After a relatively mundane third quarter for both teams, the Crimson Tide would get hot again in the fourth quarter, scoring four touchdowns. This fourth quarter domination secured the victory and extended Alabama’s winning streak against Tennessee to 15 games.  

Alabama, Mississippi State (Oct. 22, 2022) 

This game will be Alabama’s 25th time playing the Bulldogs on homecoming, but only the second time in 37 years. The Crimson Tide holds a 20-3-1 homecoming record against the Bulldogs going into Saturday’s contest. Alabama won its last homecoming matchup against the Bulldogs in 2012 with a final score of 38-7. 

The Crimson Tide will look to bounce back from last week’s loss in Knoxville on Saturday, as they host No. 24 Mississippi State. 

Kickoff from Bryant-Denny Stadium is set for Saturday, Oct. 22, at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN.

Questions or comments? Email Austin Hannon (Sports Editor) at [email protected]