Clemson knocked off top-ranked Alabama, 35-31, to win the college football national championship on Monday night in Tampa.
Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson, who threw for three touchdowns and 420 yards, found wide receiver Hunter Renfrow in the front corner of the end zone with only one second left on the clock to give Clemson the win.
Alabama, which entered the game as an undefeated favorite, had taken the lead with just over two minutes to go on a 30-yard touchdown run from quarterback Jalen Hurts.
The championship game was a rematch from last season’s college football playoff final, where Alabama defeated Clemson, 45-40. The Crimson Tide was seeking its fifth national championship in the last eight seasons.
Watson, a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist playing in his final game for Clemson, accounted for four total touchdowns in leading the Tigers to the come-from-behind victory. He ran for a touchdown in the second quarter after Alabama had jumped out to an early 14-0 lead. Clemson spent a majority of the game climbing out of that hole and struggling to overcome Alabama’s top-ranked defense.
The Tigers still trailed by 10 when the fourth quarter began. But they finally cracked the Crimson Tide, and scored three touchdowns and 21 total points in the game’s final 15 minutes.
Alabama’s defense had previously given up just 32 total points during fourth quarters this season, and had not blown a double-digit fourth quarter lead in head coach Nick Saban’s 10 seasons at the school.
None of the scores were bigger than the touchdown that came with just a second remaining in the game. On first-and-goal from the two-yard-line and trailing by three, Watson took the snap, rolled to his right and found Renfrow in the front corner of the end zone. It was Renfrow’s 10th catch and second touchdown of the game.
The victory secured Clemson’s first national championship since 1981.