1964 Arkansas Razorbacks: Players included future Arkansas head coach Ken Hatfield, future Miami Hurricanes and Dallas Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson, and future Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones

Bowl games were rewards for successful seasons and they didn’t play a role in crowning a national champion. That is until after the controversy following the 1964 regular season and 1965 bowl games. Top-ranked Alabama (AP and UPI polls) and #2 Arkansas finished their regular seasons undefeated and untied, both at 10-0-0. The Crimson Tide were the SEC champions, while the Razorbacks were the old SWC champions and relegated to the Cotton Bowl. Under the Sugar Bowl’s “no repeat” rule at the time, Alabama played in the Orange Bowl because the Cotton Bowl, in November, invited Nebraska to play the SWC champion.

1965 Orange Bowl: Texas LB Tommy Nobis, future Atlanta Falcon, met Alabama QB Joe Namath, future New York Jet, at the goal line on 4th and goal to preserve the Texas victory. However, Namath claims he stood up in the end zone.

The AP and UPI (coaches) polls awarded Alabama the 1964 national championship pre-bowls as was the standard since the polls were in existence. However on New Year’s Day 1965, the Crimson Tide lost to #5 Texas 21-17 in Miami, while Arkansas defeated #6 Nebraska 10-7 in Dallas. The Football Writers Association of America awarded the 1964 national championship to Arkansas post-bowls and controversy was fueled.

In response, the AP Poll — in a trial run — crowned its national champion after the bowls following the 1965 regular season. The practice was made official 3 years later for the 1968 regular season. The UPI Poll followed suit in 1974.

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Alabama and Arkansas also met in the 1962 and 1980 Sugar Bowls, signifying the first and last national championships head coach Bear Bryant won at Alabama as the Crimson Tide won the 1962 Sugar Bowl 10-3 and the 1980 Sugar Bowl 24-9, defeating Frank Broyles and Lou Holtz respectively.

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Alabama holds a 15-7 record over Arkansas and has won 5 consecutive games in the series. However, according to the NCAA, the Crimson Tide vacated wins in 2005 and 2007 over the Razorbacks for athletes improperly receiving textbooks and playing in the games. Alabama was also forced to forfeit its 1993 win over Arkansas due to former defensive back Antonio Langham’s inappropriate contact with an agent and his participation in the game. The difference between vacated wins and forfeited games is that vacated games are wiped clean, while forfeited games are awarded to the opposing team. For these reasons, the series record might be portrayed differently than what’s been played out on the field.

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