1st: 2016 National Championship: Clemson 35, Alabama 31
The 2018 National Championship felt great because it was a domination of the Tigers’ opponent. The 2016 National Championship was more of an emotional roller coaster.
It started badly. It looked like Bo Scarborough was going to run all over Clemson all night.
Then in the second quarter, Deshaun Watson found Deon Cain for a big gain. The Tigers finally found momentum and punched it into the end zone to trail by seven at halftime.
Hopes of a complete shift in momentum towards Clemson were dashed when Alabama recovered a fumble deep in Clemson territory. The defense held and the Tide settled for a field goal.
Alabama held a 24-14 lead as the third quarter came to a close, but Clemson had been driving and scored shortly after the 4th quarter started. Then a second score gave the Tigers their first lead of the game.
All Clemson needed to do was hold the Tide out of the end zone, and they seemed to have the upper hand at one point, but Jalen Hurts pulled a rabbit out of his hat. His 30-yard rushing touchdown left Clemson about two minutes. to respond.
Watson told his offense it was time to be legendary, and they did just that.
While fans were panicking as the seconds began ticking off the game clock, Watson stayed cool as a cucumber and picked the Alabama defense apart. He found Hunter Renfrow in the end zone with 0:01 second left in regulation. After some special teams filler, the Tigers celebrated the second national championship in school history and their first of the CFP era.
2018 was great, but 2016 was special.