Alabama Clinches National Title
Elliot Eyring ’16
The much-anticipated, College Football Playoff National Championship between the Clemson Tigers, coached by Dabo Swinney, and the Alabama Crimson Tide, coached by Nick Saban, took place on Monday January 11th. Clemson came into the game as the number-one ranked team in the country, undefeated in their respected ACC conference and non-conference schedule. Although Alabama had one loss on the year, their track record was similarly impressive as they dominated the SEC, continuously the best conference in the NCAA. Nick Saban was no stranger to the spotlight Monday, having coached five national championship games in his career. However, dancing Dabo Swinney (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFEGxQvWJG4), who took over the head coaching job for Clemson in 2008, had never coached a game of this stature.
The match-up was intriguing to everyone, premiering two of the country’s top players- Derrick Henry (Heisman winner) and Deshaun Watson. The Crimson Tide took initiative out of the gate, cashing in a Touchdown with a fifty yard run by Derrick Henry with almost eight minutes left in the first quarter. But Clemson was not scared; they bounced back with two throwing touchdowns from Deshaun Watson to Hunter Renfrow to close the first quarter with a lead: a thirty-one yard pass bomb as well as an eleven yard strike. The lone score of the second quarter belonged to the Crimson Tide who rushed Derrick Henry one yard on the goal line to even the score at fourteen. One half into the game and it was shaping up to be a classic.
The second half did not disappoint. The third quarter consisted of a deep passing touchdown from Alabama Quarterback Jake Coker. Clemson fought back in the third quarter with a field goal and a one yard rushing touchdown to give them a 24-21 lead heading in to the last quarter.
After an opening drive leading to a field goal, Alabama Coach Nick Saban made a call that seemed to turn the tide for the rest of the game. The Crimson Tide had just tied up the game when Saban called on Adam Griffith for a surprise onside kick that was recovered by Marlon Humprhey! Fifty seconds after the recovery Alabama had taken the lead back. After a fifty-one yard strike from Coker to O.J. Howard, the next seven minutes were filled with back and forth fast acting offenses as well as a 95 yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Kenyon Drake that deflated the hopes of Clemson to win. In the end, the time management skills of Nick Saban and the running game from Derrick Henry was too much for the Tigers to stop in the final quarter.
Nick Saban celebrated with his first CFP championship, but Dabo Swinney could not be too upset with his Tigers for losing such a tough battle to a great team. This year’s National Championship was as good as we could have hoped for- especially in a bowl season of such disastrous disappointing blowouts.