The second year of the College Football Playoff era is in the books and a new champion has been crowned. Nick Saban’s Alabama squad defeated a gritty Clemson team 45-40 in Glendale Monday night. The game itself was exciting, exhilarating and illuminating – it was the Championship game we deserved after the lopsided bowl season we endured. The players balled out, the coaches wiled out and the Pac-12 refs attempted to keep ineptitude to a minimum. Here's what we learned.
Saban's Got a Set...
Nick Saban’s ballsiness knows no bounds. With the score tied at 24 and 10:30 left in the fourth quarter, Saban dialed up an onside kick, which Bama executed to perfection. It was a gutsy move – one that changed the course of the game or (pardon the pun) turned the tide. Two plays later, Alabama quarterback Jake Coker threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to tight end O.J. Howard to put the Crimson Tide up 31-24 with 9:45 and basically lock down that CFP trophy. #Sharpie
4th quarter, tie game, what do you do? Surprise onside kick. Saban has guts. https://t.co/J6xMXs8I8Z
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 12, 2016
But, Deshaun Watson is the Truth
Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson is a straight up machine. He finished the game 30-of-47 for 405 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. He was also the Tigers leading rusher with 20 carries for 73 yards. He averaged 8.6 yards per pass and 3.7 yards per run and he utilized seven receivers. Numbers aside, he displayed a confidence and calmness that defined Clemson’s season – he basically stole Saban’s chill for most of the game.
Saban didn't care for that Watson scramble pic.twitter.com/FTZu4JPIMA
— Michael Shamburger (@mshamburger1) January 12, 2016
The sophomore QB showed why Clemson will continue to be formidable next year. He also didn’t call bank, he called game.
If I get a chance to play in a national championship game, Imma go ham.
— Deshaun Watson (@ShaunWatson4) February 5, 2012
Coker is Better Than Advertised
Alabama’s quarterback is better than people give him credit for. Jake Coker was catching heat early during the title game for looking a little lost and holding on to the ball too long. Coker was 9-for-13 for 82 yards in the first half and no touchdowns. In fact, the Tide didn’t throw a touchdown pass until Coker’s connection with Howard in the fourth quarter. That’s because they have running back Derrick Henry, who finished with 36 carries for 158 yards and three rushing touchdowns. The Heisman winner and self proclaimed “King” averaged 4.4 yards per carry and showcased his power with a 1-yard go ahead touchdown on third down with about a minute left in the game.
Yep...No question Henry crosses...TD Alabama https://t.co/pyaW26Ah2D
— Jamie Shaw (@JamieShaw5) January 12, 2016
Just Uber It Next Time, Lane
Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin has terrible luck with transportation. After the game, Kiffin realized mid-interview that the bus was in fact leaving the stadium without him. Luckily, he found the humor in it.
"First, I get fired on the tarmac, and now I get left behind at the national championship," Kiffin told told FoxSports.com.
He even tweeted about it, creating a new hashtag for the occasion.
— Lane Kiffin (@Lane_Kiffin) January 12, 2016
Coach got jokes.
Technology is Our Friend
But the real MVP was the pylon cam. ESPN got it right with this unique angle that helped catch Alabama's Kenyan Drake’s 95-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter, among other things. The pylon was equipped with four cameras pointing in four different directions bringing fans unique perspective directly from the field.
Only 363 more days until the next Championship game guys. Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because this tremendous meme happened.
Lane Kiffin just won a national championship. pic.twitter.com/eVOiU4bXE1
— Lindsey Thiry (@LindseyThiry) January 12, 2016
Sports writer. Avid fan, former player, once-upon-a-time coach, reluctant referee. I do digital media things with my friends. I also jinx kickers. Bay Area born & raised.