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Countdown to kickoff: In ‘16, Alabama scored all the returns

What a year for the defense and special teams.

Alabama v Mississippi Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The 2016 Alabama defense boasted one of the greatest collections of veteran talent in NCAA history, and it showed up on the stat sheet. That year, the TIde managed to score a whopping 15 touchdowns on defense and special teams. They allowed only 21 offensive touchdowns all season, leaving plenty of margin for error for an offense led by true freshman QB Jalen Hurts.

The most memorable game for the defense that season had to be the trip to Oxford. It was Hurts’ first career road game and came with the added pressure of a two game losing streak to the Rebels. Ole Miss had a high flying offense, led by senior QB Chad Kelly, that had scored 72 points in its first two games. When Hurts was blindsided for a sack/fumble return for a touchdown with three minutes to go in the first half, Alabama was down 24-3 and the crowd was rocking.

To Hurts’ credit, he rallied the troops and immediately punched the ball in the end zone to close the gap to 24-10. In what would be a theme for the entire season, the defense then forced a three-and-out and Eddie Jackson took a punt back to the house to bring the Tide within one score. A game that looked bleak was then manageable headed into the half.

After intermission, Da’Ron Payne would tie the game by turning a Ryan Anderson strip sack into a short fumble return TD on the Rebels’ opening possession, barely stretching the ball across the goal line before his knee touched. Alabama then took control of the game, and 291-lb. Jonathan Allen put it on ice with this spectacular fourth quarter rumble.

The Tide would hang on and roll into the national championship game 14-0, where a combination of horrific injury luck and corrupt incompetent officiating, plus stellar play from Clemson QB Deshaun Watson, kept this defense from reaching its destiny. Still, it will go down as one of the most explosive and talented units in the history of the sport.

Relive each and every one of the fifteen return touchdowns below.

We are now 16 days from kickoff.

Roll Tide.