Clemson topples Alabama in National Championship

Photo courtesy Clemson University

Photo courtesy Clemson University

Any doubts about which NCAA football team is the best were put to rest in the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Clemson University defeated the University of Alabama 44-16 in what turned out to be head coach Nick Saban’s largest margin of defeat in his 12 years at the school.

This meeting marked the fourth year in a row that Clemson and Alabama clashed in the postseason, with Alabama coming away with the victory in two of the previous three seasons.

Led by freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the Clemson Tigers offense started slow with a quick three-and-out. The stout Clemson defense wasted little time showing their prowess as cornerback A.J. Terrell intercepted a Tua Tagovailoa pass and returned it for a touchdown.

Alabama’s Tagovailoa quickly responded with a 62-yard touchdown pass, which was followed up with a 62-yard pass by Lawrence and an eventual Clemson touchdown. Another Alabama touchdown and missed extra point resulted in a 14-13 Clemson lead after the first quarter.

Shortly into the second quarter, Alabama scored what would be their final points of the night on a 25-yard field goal. The Tigers immediately drove down the field and regained the lead, 21-16. After another Tagovailoa interception and Clemson touchdown, as well as a Clemson field goal, the Tigers led 31-16 at halftime.

Unlike the 13-point deficit Tagovailoa faced at halftime of last year’s National Championship against the Georgia Bulldogs, the 15-point deficit Monday night proved to be far too great to overcome, as the Alabama offense was shutout in the second half.

After two more Trevor Lawrence touchdown passes and a scoreless fourth quarter, the Clemson Tigers won their second National Championship in four years, both coming under head coach Dabo Swinney.

With the win, Clemson became the first college football team to go 15-0 since the 1897 Penn Quakers.

While Alabama will likely remain a powerhouse as long as Nick Saban is the head coach, Clemson’s dominant victory shows that even a Saban-coached team is capable of getting blown out on the big stage.