The final bowl game of the college football season ended on January 9 and ended the football season in great fashion. Alabama, the top seed and defending champions and Clemson the two seed looking to avenge last season’s defeat against Alabama on this same stage. What we saw would go down as one of the best National Champions in recent memory.
The first half of this game was all Alabama, on both sides of the ball. Bama’s defense put some big hits on Deshaun early in the game, it seemed to shake the junior quarterback start to second guess himself on almost everything he had to do. The Clemson offense was struggling the whole half, after being shut out until the 8-minute mark of the second quarter when the Tigers finally manage to score a touchdown in a drive that seemed like Watson had finally gotten under control and was making the plays he had been all season. The Clemson touchdown drive was an exciting one with a 43-yard pass to Deon Cain and Watson will tiptoeing into the end zone to cap off their best drive of the game so far. At that point in the game it had already become 14-0 with Alabama’s star running back Bo Scarbrough dominating with both touchdowns going into the half.
Going into the second half its 14-7 Alabama, there couldn’t have been a worse way to start the half for Clemson with their first two drives being a fumble that led to an Alabama field goal and then a punt. But this second half we see that Clemson’s defense comes alive and keeps the whole team in the game. In the third quarter, we see things start to go Clemson’s way, with Bo Scarbrough going down in the third quarter it makes it easier for the Clemson defense to zero in on the true freshman Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts. Clemson fought their way back into the game with big plays from top receiver prospect Mike Williams, Jordan Leggett, and Hunter Renfrow, who all had 92 plus yards to finish the game.
The fourth quarter of the game is what you wanted to watch, with three lead changes and plenty of huge plays to make up for the entire game it’s a surprise that this game didn’t end up going into overtime. At the start of the fourth the score was 21-24 after Clemson scored a touchdown on the drive that lasted through the end of the third and the beginning of the fourth. Through the first seven minutes of the final quarter the score remained the same and with a total of five punts three by Alabama and two by Clemson, it seemed like the Tide’s defense would finish off the game. But then came Deshaun Watson and the Clemson offense. With their final two drives of the game both being touchdowns there were a lot of highlight plays to be seen, with multiple leaping catches by Mike Williams and a couple runs by Watson. Which would ultimately lead them to the one yard line and with one second left on the clock, Watson hit Hunter Renfrow with the biggest touchdown catch of his young life and his college career for both players.
And with that final touchdown it was all over for the Roll Tide, with only one second left on the clock to come up with a magical play to win the game, but they don’t manage it and Clemson walks away with the win in the rematch of the 2016 CFB Playoffs.
With the final score being 35-31, Deshaun Watson finished with an astounding 420 yards, three touchdowns and a QBR of 67.1. While Jalen Hurts finished the game with a measly 131 yards, an average of 4.2 yards per completion, 1 touchdown and a 25.2 QBR. Bo Scarbrough, who exited the game in the third with a lower leg injury, finished with 93 yards on 16 carries with two touchdowns. Four of Clemson’s receivers ended up with 90 plus yards to finish the game, Jordan Leggett (95), Mike Williams (94, 1 TD), Deon Cain (94), and Hunter Renfrow (92, 2 TD).
Some people will ask what the difference was from this year to last year. The difference was how the defense improved tremendously and just the overall experience of all the players. Since they had been the CFB playoff final before they kind of already had an idea of what to expect from it and they were better prepared for the game.