SANTA CLARA, CA (WIS) - In a game that was expected to be like another heavyweight title fight, Clemson came out and threw haymaker and haymaker against Alabama. The Tigers held the Crimson Tide scoreless in the second half to come away with a 44-16 win over Alabama.
Clemson’s defense got the Tigers on the board first. AJ Terrell picked off Tua Tagovailoa and returned the interception 44 yards to put Dabo Swinney’s squad up 7-0 in the first quarter with 13:20 left in the first.
Alabama responded quickly. In just three plays, the Crimson Tide tied the game 7-7 thanks to a 62-yard touchdown pass from Tagovailoa to Jerry Jeudy.
Not even two minutes after that, Clemson regained the lead. Following a 62-yard pass to Tee Higgins, Travis Etienne rumbled into the end zone from 17 yards out to put the Tigers back on top 14-7.
Alabama answered yet again. After Najee Harris came up just short of scoring, Tagovailoa threw his second touchdown of the night on a pass-action pass to Hale Hentges. However, the Tide missed the extra point and Clemson held on to its 14-13 lead.
Alabama had 226 total yards in the first quarter while holding the ball for 12 minutes.
Nick Saban’s squad took the lead for the first time on a 25-yard field goal, but Clemson got back on top pretty quickly. Etienne again came calling. The sophomore scored his second rushing touchdown of the night from one yard out making it 21-16 Tigers.
Etienne continued to leave his mark on the title game. Eight plays after Tagovailoa’s second pick, Etienne scored on a 5-yard pass to push Clemson ahead 28-16.
Clemson went into the half with a 31-16 lead despite being outgained 266-224 in the first 30 minutes.
The Tigers continued to pour it on in the third. Trevor Lawrence found Justyn Ross for a 74-yard touchdown reception. Clemson added one more score in the third quarter for good measure. The Tigers scored 30 unanswered points since Alabama’s field goal in the second quarter.
Clemson has now won two national championships in the last three years. They finish the season with a perfect 15-0 record.