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Throwback Thursday: 1926 Rose Bowl, Alabama vs. Washington

Alabama's first appearance in a bowl game resulted in its first national championship thanks to a stunning upset in Pasadena.

It was the game that not only put University of Alabama football on the college football map, but brought some much-needed respect to Southern football. 

Alabama was not the first choice to play in the 1926 Rose Bowl, and Washington, led by George Wilson, was considered a big favorite. 

But after trailing 12-0 at halftime, Coach Wallace Wade’s Alabama team battled back in the second half to capture a dramatic 20-19 victory. 

Wilson lived up to his pregame billing. Despite being knocked out of the game for 22 minutes due to an injury, he still rushed for 134 yards and completed five passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns. 

Alabama scored all of its points when Wilson was on the sideline. Washington managed just 17 yards without him, while Alabama scored three times. 

“As George Wilson went, so went Washington,” famed sportswriter Damon Runyan wrote. “If there was ever a one-man football team, George was it. When Wilson was on the field it was a ball game.” 

Wilson was still named the game's most outstanding player, while Alabama was led by quarterback “Pooley” Hubert and halfback Johnny Mack Brown.

“He is a great football player, this George Wilson – one of the very greatest,” Runyan wrote. “His brief absence probably made a big difference to Washington, but, still ‘Pooley’ Hubert was always on hand for Alabama. It was a great team that the South sent to California to take its part in the Tournament of Roses, probably the greatest that ever came out of the South.” 

Hubert scored Alabama's first touchdown from the 1-yard line with Bill Buckler kicking the point after. 

Grant Gillis faded back from his own 41 and found Brown at the Husky 25 for the second score after he was able to elude one tackler. 

A fumble recovered at the Washington 30 set up the final Alabama score. 

On first down, Hubert told Brown to run as fast as he could for the goal. 

“When I reached the three, I looked around,” Brown later recalled. “Sure enough, the ball was coming down over my shoulder. I took it in stride, used my stiff arm on one man and went over carrying somebody. The place was really in an uproar.”

Crimson Tide fans arguably haven't stopped cheering since.