The Clemson Tigers are the national champions of college football after beating Alabama 35-31 on Monday night.
With revenge from last year’s national championship loss to the same opponent on their minds, Clemson entered the game as slight underdogs and it showed in the first 20 minutes, as they suffered a 14-0 deficit after two Bo Scarbrough touchdowns. Then, with about 6 minutes left in the first half, Deshaun Watson gave the Tigers life with an 8-yard touchdown run.
Clemson started off the second half in similar fashion to the first, fumbling the ball in their own territory, leading to a field goal for the Crimson Tide to extend their lead to 17-7. The Tigers answered right back on a 4-play, 42-yard drive ending on a Hunter Renfrow touchdown from Watson, cutting Bama’s lead to 3. Both teams traded another touchdown each later in the third quarter to lead into a thrilling, back-and-forth final period.
With his team down 24-21 and about 6:30 left to play, Watson led his team on another impressive 6-play, 88-yard drive that was capped off by a Wayne Gallman 1-yard touchdown run for Clemson’s first lead of the game. Alabama responded with a great drive of their own, including a desperation completion from freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts to ArDarius Stewart on third and 16, followed by a fourth down conversion to keep them alive. The drive was finished off by Hurts, as he scrambled his way to a 30-yard touchdown run.
One final time, the Tigers responded right back, as Watson led them on a drive that will be talked about for ages. With 9 seconds left, the Crimson Tide was called for a crucial defensive pass interference which set up one final touchdown try for the Tigers on the 2-yard line. Watson rolled out to his right and fired a pass to Renfrow to give Clemson the lead with just one second on the clock.
“I couldn’t hear the crowd. I just felt at peace,” Watson said after the game. The win gives the Tigers its first national championship since 1981 and stops the Crimson Tide’s hopes for a repeat.