Alabama SI Cover Tournament: Where Have You Gone Joe Namath? vs. Ram! Jam! 'Bama!

Christopher Walsh

It's the punctuation matchup of the Alabama SI Cover Tournament. 

The first round of the Bear Bryant Regional wraps up with a Joe Namath against one of the greatest defenses in college football history. Somehow, it just seems fitting. 

Ram! Jam! 'Bama!, with nose tackle Josh Chapman on the regional cover, was about the 2011 Crimson Tide after it pounded Florida.

BamaCentral has put together a 48-field single-elimination bracket to determine the best Alabama Sports Illustrated cover.

Vote on Twitter (@BamaCentral) or Facebook (@AlabamaonSI). The voting goes 24 hours for each matchup and the result added to the original post on BamaCentral.

Note: A holiday pairing from the final regional will be posted over the holiday weekend.

First round

Bear Bryant Regional

Game 12: Where Have You Gone Joe Namath vs. Ram! Jam! 'Bama!

Where have you gone, Joe Namath: Sports Illustrated cover, August 9, 2004

Story headline: Joe Namath Revealed

Subhead: There was, it turned out, life after football ... a heartbreak of a life.

Excerpt: The story was actually a book except from "Namath" by Mark Kriegel. Rather than risk copyright infringement, we'll post this video of Namath's NFL career highlights:

    

Sports Illustrated cover Josh Chapman, Oct. 10, 2011

Story headline: Tide and Punishment 

Subhead: As Florida now painfully knows, Alabama has the best defense in the nation. It's also one of the best ever

Excerpt (by Lars Anderson):  The 2011 Tide D made an arresting case in the second half of its 38--10 drubbing of No. 12 Florida, which entered the game leading the SEC in total offense (461.8 yards per game). After senior inside linebacker Courtney Upshaw knocked Brantley out of the game with a lower right-leg injury on a brutal sack late in the second quarter, 'Bama made a few critical halftime adjustments—a Saban signature—such as switching to more zone coverage to counteract the Gators' crossing pick routes. Florida's production after intermission: zero points, two first downs, 32 rushing yards and 46 total yards. Combine that sort of unmerciful defensive performance with a potent power-rushing game (junior Trent Richardson ran for a career-high 181 yards), and it's easy to understand the national-title buzz in Tuscaloosa.

"We thought we could run the ball efficiently, but Alabama tackles really well," said Gators running back Jeff Demps, who was held to four yards on three carries a week after rushing for 157 yards against Kentucky. Added Rainey, who entered the game averaging 102.8 yards and 6.5 a carry but finished with a mere four yards on 11 attempts, "Just call it a punch in the mouth."

How spectacularly good has this Tide D—with 10 starters back from last year's unit, which finished fifth nationally—been through five games? Alabama leads the country in scoring defense (8.4 points) and rushing defense (39.6 yards), and also ranks third in total defense (191.6 yards). "We come to punish people," says Upshaw, who had four tackles and an interception, which he returned for a 45-yard touchdown. "But everything we do starts with Coach Saban. Everything."

Results

Ram! Jam! 'Bama! def. Where Have You Gone Joe Namath, 66-34 percent.

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