Throwback Thursday: Alabama Defense Didn't Give Up a Yard in 1962 Home Opener vs. Houston

J. Bank

Even though the 1962 Alabama Crimson Tide had already played three games, including two at nearby Legion Field in Birmingham, the reigning national champions didn't play before its home crowd until Houston came to Tuscaloosa in mid-October. 

Alabama was 3-0 and had dominated Georgia, Tulane and Vanderbilt, but then did something unexpected against the Cougars, fell behind at Denny Stadium.

Houston jumped out to an early lead thanks to a 40-yard field goal with 1:40 remaining in the first quarter. 

However, it subsequently gave it up on a special-teams miscue at the Houston 25 when the ball was  snapped over the head of Bobby Brenzina, who then chased it along with Alabama's Charlie Stephens only to see Crimson Tide All-American Lee Roy Jordan fall on it in the end zone. 

The Crimson Tide didn't get the offense rolling until the third quarter, when quarterbacks Joe Namath and Jack Hurlbut, who split the duties, guided a 12-play, 65-yard drive to finally reach the end zone. Fullback Eddie Versprille had carries of 14 and 8 yards against the stubborn Houston defense, and Namath connected with Stephens and Bill Battle to set up Cotton Clark's 1-yard touchdown. 

Although the defense didn't notch a shutout in the 14-3 victory, it yielded no net yards as Houston finished with 45 passing yards and -45 rushing. 

Versprille finished with 60 rushing yards on 10 carries, and Hurlbut connected on 3-of-4 passes for 24 yards. He ended up completing just 12 of 20 throws for 139 yards as Namath ended up going 76-for-146 for 1,192 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Alabama just missed defending the national title, finishing 10-1 following a 17-0 victory against Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. The defense recorded four shutouts and didn't yield more than seven points to any opponent. 

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