Clemson University claims 2017 college football national title

Noah Sollinger, Staff Writer

For the past eight years, Alabama University has dominated college football. The Alabama Crimson Tide has won four championships in that span, and fans expected the team to continue their winning streak at Raymond James Stadium on Jan. 9. However, Clemson University soon proved them wrong.

In one of the most exciting national championships to date, the Clemson Tigers emerged victorious in a 35-31 win. With Heisman-nominated quarterback Deshaun Watson and star receiver Hunter Renfrow, the team was able to push past Alabama’s solid defense.

Watson’s performance was stellar, with 420 yards passing and three touchdowns, as well as 43 yards rushing with one rushing touchdown. The most important of those touchdowns came with only one second left in the game. Watson swiftly rolled right and threw to Renfrow, allowing them to literally win the game at the last second.

Prior to that touchdown, Watson led the Tigers downfield in two minutes and six seconds for a clutch championship winning drive. The quarterback was later named the game’s most valuable player on offense.

“Don’t panic. It’s going to be special. It’s going to be great. We are built for moments like these,” said an emotional Watson to his teammates prior to the final drive.

He later repeated this motivational message in an interview with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi. Dabo Swinney, head coach of the Clemson Tigers, was equally overcome with emotion after the win.

“I told the guys at halftime, we are going to win the game. I don’t know how, but we are going to win it.” said Swinney in a post-game interview with ESPN’s Sam Ponder.

Swinney’s level of determination contributed in part to the team’s success against the Alabama Crimson Tide. After the Tigers’ defeat at the hands of the Crimson Tide at last year’s championship game, this momentous game boosted the Clemson team’s confidence.

For the past two years, the game has been played indoors at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas and at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. For the first time in the playoff history, the game was played outdoors this year, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. In 2014, Ohio State won the championship in a shocking upset over Oregon, with a final score of 42-20. Last year, Alabama triumphed in a close game against Clemson, 45-40.

This year’s championship was a rematch of last year’s matchup, with one major difference: the Clemson Tigers took home the trophy. Both the Tigers and the Crimson Tide endured a long, grueling season before making it to the championship game.

Alabama pushed through the campaign with a dominant defense, arguably the strongest in the country, and the team used its electric offense to make big plays all season. With talented players like quarterback Jalen Hurts and running back Bo Scarborough, the team has averaged an incredible 40 points a game in this undefeated campaign.

The Tide was ranked #1 in the final college football rankings, and easily took care of #4 seed Washington 24-7 in the semifinal, formally known as the Peach Bowl, played at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Alabama team has thrived under the watchful eye of coach Nick Saban since 2009.Through great recruiting and amazing coaching, the Tide has been a consistent powerhouse in college football.

“I am extremely disappointed that we did not have a better outcome today, but I’m also at the same time of what this group of young men was able to accomplish,” said Saban in a press conference following the game.

This loss was unexpected and shocking for fans, coaches, and members of the team alike.

Clemson also had a dominating 2016-2017 season. Led by junior quarterback Deshaun Watson, the Tigers used their dynamic offense to wreak havoc for opposing defenses all year. With only one loss to Pitt, Clemson was ranked #2 in the final rankings.

In the semifinal, the Fiesta Bowl at The University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, the Tigers dismantled the #3 seeded Ohio State Buckeyes 31-0.

Watson has established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the country, as he has been nominated for the Heisman trophy, the most prestigious individual award in college football. In fact, he has been nominated two years in a row at this point. Following the game, Watson officially declared for the 2017 NFL draft.

Overall, this win was a championship long in the making, as the Tigers had not won a national championship since 1981. Their program has much work to do before next season as they will look to return to college football’s biggest stage. As for Alabama, the team will spend the offseason working towards at a shot at redemption.