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Countdown to kickoff: 25 years ago, the world met Shaun Alexander

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A star was born in Baton Rouge.

Shaun Alexander #37

The 1996 season was legendary coach Gene Stallings’ last in Tuscaloosa, and it was moderately successful. The Tide won the SEC West with a 6-2 conference slate and lost to eventual national champion Florida in the SEC Championship Game, before closing out the season with an Outback Bowl victory over Michigan for a 10-3 final record. The shining moment of the season came in November when the Tide made the biennial trip to Baton Rouge.

Dennis Riddle was Alabama’s featured back that season and he was a good one, amassing more than 1300 yards from scrimmage and 14 TDs. He is currently 11th all-time in career rushing yards at Alabama with 2,645 yards.

That November day, however, belonged to understudy Shaun Alexander.

Alexander was only a freshman in 1996, and played somewhat sparingly in the first two months of the season behind Riddle and backup Curtis Alexander, who is of no relation to Shaun. None of that stopped him from breaking out against #11 LSU for 291 rushing yards and four touchdowns on a mere 20 carries, headlined by long TD scampers of 72 and 73 yards.

Quite simply, he was the best athlete on the field that day.

Alexander would go on to a successful college career before blowing up in the NFL, earning multiple Pro Bowl invitations over his nine year career and earning a reputation as one of the most complete backs in the league, but he never had another day quite like that one in Baton Rouge.

Relive his transcendent performance below.

We are now 25 days from kickoff.

Roll Tide.