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Best Served Cold (Part Two): Avenging 125 years of Alabama losses

The slate must needs be wiped clean

tide fans

This is the 125th year of Alabama Crimson Tide football. Very few schools can boast a winning record against ‘Bama or have a winning streak against the Tide. However, those very few schools on the list must suffer the wrath of Dark Lord Saban in order for any of us to fully sleep well again.

In our previous installment of Best Served Cold, we talked about the end of the Georgia Tech rivalry, the galling last second lost to Clemson, Doug Flutie’s monster game against the Tide and others. You should check that out if you’ve not done so. It was supposed to just be a week, but we got caught up with SEC media days, season planning, vacations, real world and so forth.

As for why we do this? It is Alabama’s 125th Anniversary. And, like all anniversaries, you have to take the pain with the joy: nothing is entirely good in this ephemeral world.

Khalil Gibran said it best:

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.

And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.

Today is the second of a four-part series that will wrap up before the 2017 seasons begins in earnest.

Louisiana Tech

  • Last meeting 29-28 Legion Field, 1999:

Sure, it worked out in the end. Shaun Alexander was a Heisman contender until an ankle injury (and Tennessee) derailed that dream. Alabama won in the Swamp, breaking Florida’s obscene home winning streak. The Tide later repeated the feat in a thorough trashing of the Gators in the SECCG.

But, and there were some buts that year, on a miserable, gray day in the gray mausoleum of Legion Field, we saw a Tide team with an off-balance secondary get lit up by the Bulldogs in a bend-don’t-break performance. Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Alabama’s secondary folded on the final drive and gave up the winning touchdown pass with just seconds remaining. Making it worse was that the Tide had allowed long conversions to get the Bulldogs in striking range, and then got burnt by a backup after Alabama knocked out Tim Rittay. Oh, and need I add it was a Hail Mary throw threaded between and around almost half a dozen Alabama defenders?

This game was simply brutal to watch live, and it was made worse by an electric return by Shaun Alexander on the last play of the game that gave Tide fans so much false hope.

  • Odds of revenge (or at least a rematch)? 4/10

The Bulldogs are all respectable again, competing for C-USA titles and regular bowl appearances. This would be a good mid-range game the Tide would pay for. Why it has not happened yet remains a mystery. It’s not on the immediate schedule, but it should only be a matter of time before these two meet again. Then again, despite the obvious fit for both teams, these programs have only met twice, and both of those were in the 90s. Let’s put the odds way lower, then.


Gene Stallings’ first Alabama team in 1990 sputtered somewhat out of the gate before developing its bonecrusher identity we’d see for the next several years in Tuscaloosa. The ‘90 defensive crew even had a hand-sign they did after big plays, the “x-clan” with both arms crossed over the chest. It was a nice bit of trash-talking in an era where taunting was allowed.

But, that day, facing his old friend on Bear’s Alabama staff, Howard Schnellenberg, the architect of Miami’s dynasty showed that he was the better coach, the better team, the better scheme. I don’t recall an Alabama team getting its ass whipped so thoroughly before then, and it would be over a decade in a 42-6 loss to Arkansas, that we would see the Tide so thoroughly outclassed again.

Those Cards were simply vicious: They had a fantastic defense with seven future NFL Players and lit teams up through in the air, led by Browning Nagle and Jeff Brohm. Adding insult to injury, the Cardinals tossed Alabama’s X-Clan back into the faces of the Tide DBs with each embarrassing score. Louisville earned their best season in two decades (10-1-1). Alabama got a 7-5 finish, their butts stomped all over the Arizona turf, and suffered a loss that still stings anyone who saw it.

  • Odds of revenge (or at least a rematch)? 10/10 6/10

ED. It appears the Cards and Tide kick it off next year to start the season. Like FSU, and hopefully OSU, Alabama seems to be ticking revenge games off the list. Well done, Coach.

Much, much better than you’d assume. Bobby Petrino has a nice product in a winnable league that is increasingly more quarterback-friendly. While the Cards were not ready for prime time last season, it’s not much of a stretch to think with some breaks they could face the Tide in a playoff game or New Year’s bowl.


  • Last meeting: 20-16 , 2004 Music City Bowl

Alabama football began in 1892. Minnesota started play in 1882. Together, the two programs claim 23 national titles. It is baffling then how it took these two well over a century to finally meet. But, when they did, it was a merciless slog between two 6-5 teams.

The one team incapable of completing a forward pass, Minnesota? The team that went 5/12 for 75 yards in the air? Yeah, they won. In the end, Minnesota had the better ground game, as Marion Barber III and Laurence Maroney each went over 100 yards. Spencer Pennington and a running game left for dead and then crapped out by rabid racoons were’t enough. Of the many performances to choose from, I’m calling this one Dave Rader’s tour de force of sharting. (Seriously. Look at box score.)

As bad as this game was, maybe we shouldn’t pine for a rematch?

  • Odds of revenge (or at least a rematch) 1/10

I’m very tempted to say that these teams may never meet again in our lifetimes. If they do, then Alabama will have taken a terrible turn and/or Minnesota has regained prominence on the national stage that it hasn’t enjoyed since 1960. I just don’t see a revenge game anytime soon. Enjoy your all-time 1-0 record against the Tide, Gophers.

Northern Illinois

  • Last meeting: 19-16, 2003

Ah, the first Mike Shula masterpiece of underachievement, the ole “lose to a midmajor at home” special we came to know and love for the better part of a decade (and, in fairness, begun by his predecessor, Mike Dubose.)

This game is when we should have known we were in for dark times with Shula: Alabama came into this one No. 21 in the the country at 2-1 versus a good Northern Illinois team, led by future San Diego Charger Michael Turner. The Huskies also had momentum, having won eight of its last nine, and having just knocked off No. 15 Maryland. Alabama, meanwhile, was licking its chops after a tough loss to Oklahoma.

The Alabama defense knew Turner would be a load. And he was: He was the first back to gain 100+ yards since Travis Henry two years earlier and NIU was the first team to run for 100 yards in 2003 -- the Tide had even shut out Oklahoma’s ground game. Still, the Tide held the Huskies to field goals instead of touchdowns. As would ever prove the case, it was the Alabama offense that lost the game: Holding a MAC team to 19 points should always be enough when you’re Alabama, even if you’re a probation-saddled Crimson Tide.

  • Odds of revenge (or at least a rematch): 2/10

Let’s call this on the low side of probable. The Huskies are a shell of their once-glory. But, Alabama has loved taking a bite of midmajor conference champs: So. Miss, WKU, Middle Tennessee, Colorado State, etc. It would be nice to see the ledger at least reach .500.

UP NEXT: We tackle some seriously hated heavy hitters, including Ohio State and Oklahoma.


Which of these teams do you most want to get revenge upon?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Louisiana Tech
    (69 votes)
  • 69%
    (270 votes)
  • 8%
    (35 votes)
  • 4%
    Northern Illinois
    (17 votes)
391 votes total Vote Now