(Above left) Quarterback Brodie Croyle rolls out with an Oklahoma defender in hot pursuit. Croyle has had better days throwing the football, but his gutty performance--getting up again and again and coming back for more after being repeatedly belted by a quality Oklahoma defense--impressed players on both sides of the football.
One of Alabama's all-time greats, Harry Gilmer, delivers the ceremonial game ball to the official. Gilmer starred for the Tide from 1944-1947. The Birmingham native was an All-American and the SEC Player of the Year in 1945. He was the MVP of the Rose Bowl, after leading Alabama to a 34-14 victory over Southern Cal. Gilmer accounted for 52 touchdowns during his Bama career, a school record. In 1946 he led the team in passing, rushing, interceptions, punt returns and kickoff returns. Gilmer was a 1993 inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Though technically Bama's 40-17 win over South Florida was a home game, Saturday was the Tide's first chance this season to play in Bryant-Denny before a home-campus crowd. The game was of course a sellout. Mike Shula said afterwards that some ESPN employees that had been covering college games for 25 years remarked that the Tide crowd was as impmressive as they had ever seen.
Game captains meet at midfield for the coin toss. Dennis Alexander, Lance Taylor and Anthony Madison represented Alabama. The Sooners won the toss, and elected to defer to the second half. Alabama took the opening kickoff and promptly threw an interception that Oklahoma converted into a field goal. From that point the Sooners held the lead to the final gun.
Shaud Williams #21 of the Alabama Crimson Tide rounds the corner as Ataleo Ford #26 and Brandon Everege #7 of the Oklahoma Sooners defend, September 6, 2003 at Legion Field in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Williams finished with 91 yards on 17 carries. He also caught four passes for eight yards. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Alabama Defensive Coordinator Joe Kines gestures toward the field. With the exception of a few long passes, Alabama's defense played very well versus the No. 1 Sooners, keeping the Tide in the game and giving Bama's offense chances to win.
James Moses #89 of the Oklahoma Sooners is tackled by Derrick Pope #6 and DeMeco Ryans #35 of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the first half of the game between Oklahoma and Alabama. Pope led all Tide tacklers with 14, Ryans was second with 9. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
The Sooners were deep enough on the defensive line to rotate whole units, but Alabama's offensive line held its own. Left to right: Evan Mathis (#51), Dennis Alexander (#73), J.B. Closner (#74), Justin Smiley (#78) and Wesley Britt (#70). That's Lance Taylor (#39) in the background.
Tide Head Coach Mike Shula looks on from the sideline. Saturday's contest was the first time Shula had been at a game in Bryant-Denny Stadium since he led the Tide to a 24-14 victory over Temple in 1986. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Triandos Luke (#84) and Chris James (#32) walk off after the game. When the clock ticked down to 00:00, Bama's players were understandably frustrated. Alabama played hard through the entire game, but every time the Tide got close Oklahoma came up with a big play to keep the momentum.