In a National Championship Game that pitted two of the powerhouse programs against each other for the second time in a row, it was Clemson who emerged victorious and avenged the loss they suffered at the hands of Alabama in the 2016 National Championship Game.
Filled with twists and turns, there are very few college football games that have surpassed the drama created by the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship.
After starting slow and being down 14-0 to the Alabama Crimson Tide in the first half, Clemson exploded offensively in the second half, led by the standout play of their quarterback Deshaun Watson. The Tigers scored 21 points in the fourth quarter alone, completing the upset in a game in which Alabama were seven point favorites.
The most drama came from the game’s ending, in which Clemson marched to the Alabama 2-yard line down 31-28 with six seconds left on the game clock. Coach Dabo Swinney of Clemson decided there was enough time to run one more play as opposed to kicking a field goal to tie the game, a decision that paid off big in the end.
Watson received the snap, rolled to his right, and threw a touchdown pass to a wide open Hunter Renfrow, who had seven catches for 88 yards and two touchdowns.
After kicking the extra point to up 35-31, there was still one second left on the clock, and Clemson was forced to kick off and potentially put the game in the hands of their special teams, a unit Swinney appeared to have no confidence in through out the night.
Instead, Swinney elected to perform an onside kick, and once again, his boldness paid off for the Tigers. Clemson recovered, and then Watson took a knee to complete one of the most exhilarating and impressive performances in recent college football history.
In an exuberant post game press conference, Swinney showed the passion and humility that has made him one of the most respected coaches in college football.
“That has to be one of the greatest games of all time, just absolutely incredible, to have to take the field and go down the field to win the game, that’s what it’s made of. That’s what I told ’em when it was over. This is what it’s all about right here, boys. They fought. They fought for every play, and I just – I said it out on the field, and I’ll say it again: For me personally, only God can do this.” Swinney said.
The victory for Clemson ended Alabama’s dominant 26 game winning streak, one of the longest of all time.
Reactions to the game were immediate, with many on social media proclaimed it to be the best National Championship Game since 2006, in which an underdog Texas Longhorns squad led by Vince Young upset a USC team with two Heisman Trophy winners.
“I definitely thought Alabama was gonna win when they were up 14-0, but Clemson pulled off that crazy comeback and took the W.” Tristan Eason, sophomore, said.
It was a game that was so dramatic it seemed too good to be true, and it may be a long time before we see a game of this caliber again.
Featured image by USA Today