Clemson: National Champions
Forget all this talk about it being a great game. It really wasn’t.
It was a great fourth quarter crowned by a stunning, memorable ending that will truly linger.
Clemson claimed its first national championship since 1981 on Monday night by erasing an early 14-0 deficit, scoring with one second left in the game and defeating favored Alabama 35-31.
Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson helped avenge last year’s loss in the title game to Bama by throwing a 2-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow with one second left to prevent the Crimson Tide from repeating as national champs and ending their 26-game winning streak. Alabama hadn’t trailed in the fourth quarter the entire season until this game.
Watson is a two-time runner-up for the Heisman Trophy who truly is the model of a student-athlete. Composed, calm he overcame a slow start in this game to lead his team to the title. He earned his degree in three years and is bound for the NFL.
Renfrow, a scrappy former walk-on, is now part of one of the most memorable plays in college football history. And Tigers coach Dabo Swinney, who played for Alabama, put the cap on his rebuilding and remaking of a once-iconic program.
Alabama’s machine wound up with a few broken gears. The sudden departure of offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin for his new job as head coach at Florida Atlantic University and his replacement by Steve Sarkisian did not seem to help true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts and a leg injury to running back Bo Scarbrough slowed the Tide.
The Tigers were on the proverbial mission ever since they lost to the Tide 45-40 in last year’s championship game. They set a goal and they achieved it.