The over/under for this game was 78.5, and we almost saw the over before half. They say offense wins games but defense wins championships, but offense surely dominated this game. However; defense is what sealed the game. Clemson forced two first half interceptions and Alabama caused a few three and outs. But in the end, touchdowns won the game. Clemson claimed it’s third National Championship with a 44-16 victory Monday night over first ranked Alabama.
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. Alabama had two major turnovers. After forcing Clemson in to a three and out, Tua Tagovailoa threw a 44 yard pick six to AJ Terrell.
Although you wouldn’t know it on the next drive as Tagovailoa found Jerry Jeudy on a 62 yard TD the very next drive to tie the game.
And the back and forth continued as Clemson took the 31-16 haltime lead. True freshman QB Trevor Lawrence looked shaky to start the game but had 197 yards and a TD at the half while his counterpart Tua Tagovailoa had 158 yards and two touchdowns but two key interceptions.
Tee Higgins had two big receptions for 76 yards and Hunter Renfrow had two key catches including a third down conversion. Meanwhile Jerry Jeudy had four catches for just shy of 100 yards and that 62 yard touchdown. On top of Jeudy’s dominant first half, Alabama was able to run the ball effectively Najee Harris (48 yards) Joshua Jacobs (42 yards) and Damien Harris (23 yards).
Alabama looked like the better team for the majority of the first half but Clemson was able to make them pay for their mistakes scoring 14 points off of turnovers.
Alabama is a team that can and will make the necessary adjustments. Point and case was last year’s championship game when they made the move to Tua. Roll Tide took the second half kickoff and decided to run and run they did. Trying to slow down Clemson and the game, Alabama was able to take off over five minutes of the clock but nearly turned it over for a third time when DeVonta Smith fumbled but was able to recover. What happened next was questionable, after an incomplete on third and six, Nick Saban decided to try the fake field goal which was easily snuffed out by Clemson and the Tigers took over at their own 24.
At that time, ESPN’s power football index gave Clemson and 91% chance to win. And three plays later, a 74 yard touchdown pass to Justyn Ross due to a missed coverage and a game ending injury to Zayveon Johnson. After scampering to the house (and missed PAT), that put the win percentage up to 98. Surely, Alabama couldn’t come back from this.
On Alabama’s next drive, they were able to run the ball again effectively and slow down the game but they failed yet again on fourth down and left six points on the board by not kicking the field goal — again. Clemson would take over at it’s own 14 and try to take the game over completely by establishing a drive that would drain clock. As a matter of fact, Clemson had more points than plays with just over four minutes left in the third.
Alabama needed a break and it appeared that they got one with under four minutes left after what looked like could’ve been a fumble by freshman WR Justyn Ross, but after review they ruled that the ground caused the fumble. Clemson continued its 12 play touchdown drive that ended in a five yard Tee Higgins TD grab which put the lead up to 44-16 and Clemson didn’t look back.
Alabama had not one, not two, but three turnovers on downs inside the Clemson 25 in the second half. Poor coaching and bad execution lead to the worst loss in the Nick Saban era at Alabama.
Trevor Lawrence finished the game going 20-32 for 347 yards and three touchdowns. Travis Etienne had 86 yards rushing but did tally two touchdowns as well. And Justyn Ross had himself a career game with six catches, 153 yards and a touchdown. Tua Tagovailoa finished his night early in the fourth when Jalen Hurts came in and Tua compiled 295 yards on 22-34 throwing, two touchdowns and two picks. Najee Harris finished the night with 59 yards while Jerry Jeudy had five catches for 139 yards and a touchdown.
Clemson may take the reigns from Alabama as the franchise team that you’ll consistently see in the national championship. This is the third national title in Clemson’s history and second in the last two seasons. Looks like Dabo Swinney did a pretty good job taking over for Tommy Bowden huh?
Another winner was Vegas, didn’t reach the over and nearly 60% of bets were placed on Alabama. Another fun fact, a #1 seed has never won the College Football Playoff National Championship.
– Brian Berard (@RockyBerard)
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