The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

SEC x CFB 150: 1951-1959

36 days ago
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As part of the recognition of the 150th anniversary of college football, the Southeastern Conference is recognizing 150 of the greatest games and moments in the history of the 14 institutions of the SEC.

Each of the SEC's 14 members submitted to the Conference Office 10 great games or moments, and the SEC added 10 conference-wide highlights to produce a total of 150 great moments to be celebrated throughout the 2019 football season. To view the other weeks, click here.

Week 3 - SEC Football 150 Greatest Moments (1951-1959)

Final Score: Tennessee 20, Texas 14
Date: January 1, 1951
Site: Dallas, Texas
Head Coach: Robert R. Neyland
Title: 1951 Cotton Bowl
Tennessee's once-defeated Volunteers dominated the second half and defeated Texas 20-14 in the 1951 Cotton Bowl. That victory catapulted the Vols to a 10-1 record and consensus National Championship during the 1951 season. Tennessee scored first, on a 5-yard pass from Herky Payne to John Gruble, a play set up by a now-historic 75-yard run by Hank Lauricella, on which he reversed his field three times and slowed only to allow his blockers to catch up. The Longhorns rallied to take a 14-7 halftime lead, parlaying a blocked kick into one score and a pass into another. The Vols closed to one point early in the fourth quarter, when fullback Andy Kozar bulled in from the 5. Later in the quarter, Jim Hill intercepted a Longhorn pass and the Vols were goal-ward again. The teams exchanged fumbles on two consecutive plays and the Vols took the Texas turnover in for the winning score as Kozar plunged in from the 1 for his second touchdown and the Vols held off a late Texas charge to win 20-14.

Final Score: Tennessee 27, Alabama 13
Date: October 20, 1951
Site: Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama
Title: First SEC Televised Event
In its customary Third Weekend of October, the Alabama-Tennessee rivalry took on new significance in 1951 when it became the first televised event in Southeastern Conference history. Broadcast on the NBC Network, Alabama took a 7-0 lead, but Tennessee tied it 7-7 by halftime, then cruised to a 27-13 win behind the play of Heiman runner-up Hank Lauricella. The 1951 Tennessee Volunteers went undefeated in the regular season, losing only in the Sugar Bowl, while Alabama finished 5-6 on the season.

Final Score: Ole Miss 21, Maryland 14
Date: November 15, 1952
Site: Oxford, Mississippi
Head Coach: John Vaught
Title: The Game That Put Ole Miss on the Map
Jimmy Lear carried the No. 11 Rebels to a 21-14 come-from-behind victory over then-No. 3 Maryland, arguably the school's biggest victory at the time. Coming into that game, Maryland had won 22-consecutive games, not having lost a contest since it fell to North Carolina in 1950. Lear accounted for all three of the Rebels' touchdowns that day, while also handling both the punting and kicking duties. He earned National Back of the Week honors for his efforts as he completed 11 of 16 passes for 231 yards and one TD, while also rushing for 44 yards on 15 carries, giving him 275 total offensive yards in the game. Going against the nation's No. 1 defense, which was allowing only 156.4 yards per game, Lear led the Ole Miss offense to 461 yards.

Final score: Arkansas 6, Ole Miss 0
Date: October 23, 1954
Site: War Memorial Stadium, Little Rock, Arkansas
Head Coach: Bowden Wyatt
Title: Powder River Play
Bowden Wyatt led the "25 little pigs" in his second season at Arkansas and took an undefeated and No. 7 Arkansas into a game against No. 5 Ole Miss in Fayetteville. The two teams struggled in a defensive battle, but a 66-yard touchdown pass from Bob Benson to Preston Carpenter known as the "Powder River Play" scored the game's only points. The victory springboarded Arkansas to a Southwest Conference title and a No. 10 ranking in the final Associated Press poll.

Final score: Vanderbilt 22, Auburn 13
Date: December 31, 1955
Site: Gator Bowl Stadium, Jacksonville, Florida
Head Coach: Art Guepe
Title: "Taming Tigers"
The Commodores took full advantage of five Auburn fumble recoveries to capture a 25-13 win over the favored Tigers in the 11th annual Gator Bowl. The game was significant for several years - it gave Vanderbilt a victory in its first-ever postseason appearance and it marked the first bowl game ever aired nationally by CBS. The Commodores used the Auburn turnovers to build a 25-7 lead to defeat the Tigers. Three of the Commodores' touchdowns came after recovering Auburn fumbles. The Vanderbilt offensive attack was led by All-America halfback Charley Horton and Don Orr, who scored two touchdowns despite playing quarterback with a dislocated elbow.

Final Score: Tennessee 6, Georgia Tech 0
Date: November 10, 1956
Site: Atlanta, Georgia
Head Coach: Bowden Wyatt
Title: Neyland vs. Neyland
When Bobby Dodd and Bowden Wyatt, General Robert Neyland's two most famous protégées matched teams on Grant Field, something had to give. Something did, and Tennessee won, 6-0, in one of the classics of fundamental football. And Georgia Tech lost only because of one brief lapse on defense in a fiery duel of inspired defensive play and unforgettable kicking. The blue chips were in the center of the table when the game began. Tech ranked No. 2 in the nation and Tennessee No 3. The victor would have his pick of the bowls and most likely win the Southeastern Conference Championship. The first half ended 0-0 but the tone was set for a battle of duel tactics of punts, quick kicks and playing field position football. The second half began the same way as the first with an exchange of punts giving the ball to Tennessee at its own 35. Tailback Johnny Majors hit end Buddy Cruze near the sideline for 16 yards. On the next play Cruze went toward the sideline again, but then darted inside leaving the Tech defender in his stride. He took Majors' 21-yard pass and raced to the Tech 1 for a 45 yard gain. Fullback Tommy Bronson leaped into the end zone for the only score of the game. From that point on Tech put up a valiant charge but the Vol defense intercepted two passes and Bobby Gordon's and Major's punting kept the Yellow Jackets at bay the rest of the game. In all, there were 23 punts in the game, 12 by Tennessee, one a 72-yard boomer by Gordon, and 11 by Georgia Tech.

Final Score: Texas A&M 34, Texas 21
Date: November 29, 1956
Site: Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas
Head coach: Paul "Bear" Bryant
Title: Coach Bryant and Aggies break Memorial Stadium Jinx
In 16 previous football trips to Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas A&M had failed to win. Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant had taken over the Aggie program in 1954 and forged toughness with his "Junction Boys" which included Gene Stallings and Jack Pardee. The Aggies headed to Austin in 1956 with All-Americans such as Charlie Krueger and John David Crow and raced out to a 21-0 lead, but the Longhorns would cut the halftime deficit to 21-14. Pardee returned the second half kickoff to the Texas 15-yard line and then punched in a score to up the Aggie lead to 27-14. The two teams would trade touchdowns to make the final score 34-21 as the Aggies' broke the jinx. Crow would go on to win the 1957 Heisman Trophy and was the only Heisman winner to play for Coach Bryant.

Final score: Auburn 7, Tennessee 0
Date: September 28, 1957
Site: Shields-Watkins Field, Knoxville, Tennessee
Head coach: Ralph "Shug" Jordan
Title: "Sweet Taste of Revenge"
Auburn 's scrappy Tigers obtained the "Sweet Taste of Revenge" by defeating No. 8 Tennessee, the defending SEC champions, 7-0, before 46,000 rain-soaked fans in Knoxville's Shields-Watkins Field. The Volunteers could not move against the strong Auburn forward wall, led by ends Jimmy "Red" Phillips and Jerry Wilson and center Jackie Burkett. Fullback Billy Atkins, the forgotten man in Auburn's speedy backfield, plunged for the touchdown and then kicked the extra point in leading the Tigers to the upset win over the Volunteers. The touchdown drive was good for 57 yards. Key plays of the drive were a 10-yard pass by Lloyd Nix to Jerry Wilson, and a Nix fumble which Lamar Rawson picked up at the 10 and carried six yards to a first down at the four. Tennessee showed flashes of its 1956 form only in the fourth period when the Vols drove to the Auburn 29 yard line before the Plainsmen took over. It was Auburn's first victory over the Vols in 20 years, stirring revenge for a Tennessee rout of Auburn in the previous season's opening game, and the first win of a 10-0 season and the eventual national championship.

Date: December 3, 1957
Head Coach: Paul "Bear" Bryant
Title: Bryant Returns to Bama
On December 3, 1957, Paul "Bear" Bryant signed a 10-year contract to return to the University of Alabama, his alma mater, as head football coach and athletic director. He would go on to coach the Crimson Tide for 25 years, compiling a record of 232-46-9 (.824) while winning six national championships. Bryant also directed Alabama to 14 Southeastern Conference titles and made 29 bowl game appearances. He was three times named National Coach of the Year and earned SEC Coach of the Year honors on 10 occasions.

Final Score: LSU 7, Ole Miss 3
Date: October 31, 1959
Site: Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Head Coach: Paul Dietzel
Title: Cannon's Halloween Run
There have been longer scoring plays in LSU football history, but Billy Cannon's 89-yard punt return against Ole Miss in 1959 is simply, and undeniably, the most famous play in Tiger gridiron records. In fact, some consider it one of the most memorable in college football history. It was an eerie, misty and humid Halloween night, and the Rebels of Mississippi took a 3-0 lead into the final quarter, threatening to end an 18-game LSU win streak. On third-and-17 from the Ole Miss 42, the Rebels' Jake Gibbs punted 47 yards to the Tiger 11 where Cannon hauled it in on the bounce. Cannon careened off seven tacklers down the east sideline and darted 89 yards to immortality. Some say it may have been that run that assured Cannon of the Heisman Trophy he received at season's end. Cannon's run was one of two memorable moments in that game for the eventual Heisman Trophy winner. Cannon along with fellow White Team member Warren Rabb preserved the win for the Tigers by tackling Ole Miss quarterback Jake Gibbs at the LSU 1-yard line with one second remaining in the contest.