The Clemson Tigers are your 2016 College football national champions! In a game that will go down as a classic championship bout, the Tigers not only beat the heavy-weight Tide team but also exacted revenge from the 2015 title game when these team also met but with Alabama coming out on top.
This is the first title for Clemson since the 1981 season when the top-ranked Tigers beat Nebraska in the Orange Bowl for the championship. This one, however, needed a full 60-minutes and a final play for the win and will go down as one of the best championship games ever. The game-winning score came off the arm of Deshaun Watson (who will enter the 2017 NFL draft) as he hit Hunter Renfrow in the end zone with a single second left on the clock:
Renfrow, the sophomore wide out, led all players on the field with his 10 catches. He racked up 92 yards and scored twice including the game-winner. Watson finished his final collegiate game with 420 yards and 3 touchdowns through the air without a turnover while picking up 43 yards and a score on the ground. Watson became just the 2nd quarterback ever to have two games against Nick Saban (while the head coach at Alabama) with more than 300 yards passing.
And Watson went over 400 yards both times, so he is the only player ever to accomplish that feat.
The Crimson Tide held a 14-point lead heading into the final quarter of play but Nick Saban's crew was outscored 21-7 in the fourth. In their first 14 games of the year, including the semifinal match up with Washington, the Tide only allowed four teams to score any points in the final quarter of play and only one team, Ole Miss back in week 3, was able to post double-digit points (16) on Bama in the fourth.
Clemson's head coach, Dabo Swinney, also made history by becoming just the 2nd man in college football history to win the National Championship as player and a coach. Swinney won the 1992 title as a player at, ironically, Alabama. The only other man to achieve this was Bud Wilkinson who won a title as a player for Minnesota in 1936 and as a coach at Oklahoma in 1950's (he won multiple championships in his 14-year tenure at OU). Swinney's title run becomes even more impressive when you think about who he beat in the two games to win the championship.
This will go down as one of the greats championship games ever played, no matter the sport. It had it all - great coaches, a Heisman Trophy contender, plenty of NFL-ready talent, a comeback, and a play at the buzzer to win it. Thank you Alabama and Clemson for the memories and congratulations to Dabo Swinney, Deshaun Watson and the entire Tigers team on the National Championship win!