Throwback Thursday: The 1967 Third Saturday In October
Alabama was 3-0-1 and ranked sixth in the Associated Press when No. 7 Tennessee came calling at Legion Field.
So what did it take to end the Crimson Tide's 25-game undefeated streak, and six-game streak against the rival Volunteers? This was how John Underwood started his story in the Oct. 30, 1967 issue of Sports Illustrated.
"All right, you long sufferers. You have been looking for the way to beat Alabama. Here is how you do it. Very simple. First thing you get two top quarterbacks, one who passes like a professional and runs like he would rather not (call him Swamp Rat Warren, just for fun) and one who is a terrific natural athlete (call him Charlie Fulton) who also doubles as a tailback and frightens people no matter what he plays. Are you getting this down? Then you make a raid into Alabama and grab a prospect from under the nose of Bear Bryant. That's the hard part. Better do that at night. Call this prospect Richmond Flowers Jr. of the Montgomery Flowers. Flowers can catch, and he can run with what he has caught. Then you go down to Tampa, Fla., and get a couple more quarterbacks and shove them onto the defensive team. They will love it.
"Now pay attention, because this is where it gets tricky. You allow both Warren and Fulton to get hurt before the game. Knock them right out of the action, see? And you bring up a quarterback with a name nobody can pronounce. Bubba Wyche. Does it rhyme with tyke, rich, psyche, rice or swish? His father says with "I-ch." Bubba is a fellow who has been hanging around for four years, serving time as a red shirt on the meatball squad and aching to get a chance to earn his laundry money.
"Bubba gets a lot of unattention, and richly deserves it. Even the week before, when he makes his debut on national television because Warren and Fulton are hurt and he beats Georgia Tech, nobody thinks about him. Who's Georgia Tech? Beat Alabama, that's the thing.
"So, on a lovely clear day in late October you put the baby-faced, blue-eyed, turned-up-nose and nice-as-can-be Bubba Wyche on the painted turf of Legion Field in Birmingham before the largest crowd — 72,000 — ever to see an Alabama-Tennessee football game. Then you add expatriate Flowers, who once got a wire from Alabama that said, "The Bear will make you regret your unfortunate decision," and those two former quarterbacks from Tampa, Defensive Halfback Albert Dorsey and Linebacker Steve Kiner. You tell Wyche to throw passes, Flowers to catch them, Dorsey to intercept when Ken (The Snake) Stabler throws and Kiner to intercept Alabama's runners. And there you have, in capsule, how Tennessee beat Alabama last weekend by a score of 24-13."
Alabama actually out-gained Tennessee 242-234, but the Crimson Tide had five passes intercepted.