Last night we witnessed the two best teams College Football has to offer square off in Santa Clara for the national title game, and it wasn’t even close who was the better team. From the Interception that was returned for a touchdown to open the scoring, to the Trevor Lawrence 5 yard touchdown pass to Tee Higgins that sealed the victory, Clemson dominated the game and humbled the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide 44-16. Clemson became the 1st school since 1897 to finish the year 15-0. The Tigers have now won 2 of the last 3 national championships, and have a record of 55-4 since the start of the College Football Playoff, (2015 – present).
Image: CFB National Championship poster
Clemson played a near perfect game last night. On defense they forced Alabama’s star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa into two interceptions, one of which was taken back for a touchdown. Tagovailoa had only thrown 4 interceptions in the previous 14 games, and only Clemson and Georgia were able to force Tagovailoa into multiple turnovers in a game this year. It just seemed like every time Alabama tried to get some momentum and move the ball downfield, the defense was their to make a stop, and give the ball back to their offense. Clemson held Alabama to just 16 points, Alabama came into the game averaging 45.3 points per game, and were the only team all year to keep the Crimson Tide under 21 points all year long. Cornerback Trayvon Mullen was named defensive MVP of the game recording 6 tackles, 1 interception, and 1 forced fumble.
Image: Clemson defensive tackle Nyles Pinckley tackles Alabama tight end Irv Smith jr.
On offense, the Tigers were efficient and effective in every way. QB Trevor Lawrence threw for 347 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions and was named offensive player of the game. Lawrence becomes the 1st true freshman quarterback to win the national championship since 1985 and just the 3rd true freshman to ever do it. The 19-year old looked composed, and unfazed by one of the best defense’s in college football, and many people believe he would be the #1 overall pick in the upcoming draft if he could enter it. However, because of the recent rule change stating that players are not able to enter the NFL draft until their junior year, Lawrence will be in death valley until the end of the 2021 season if he chooses too.
Image: Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence passing the ball during CFB National Championship game vs Alabama
Travis Etienne and Justyn Ross also had standout performances in the game. Etienne had 14 carries for 86 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns while catching 1 pass for 5 yards and a touchdown. All of Etienne’s touchdowns came in the 1st half, as Etienne outscored Alabama 21-16 in that half. Etienne will be back for his junior year at Clemson, and currently has 2424 career rushing yards and 37 career rushing touchdowns. Ross, a freshman, made a name for himself during the college football playoff, had 6 receptions for 153 receiving yards and a touchdown. During the CFB playoff games vs both Notre Dame and Alabama, Ross combined for 12 receptions for 301 yards and 3 touchdowns. Ross also made multiple one handed, highlight reel catches throughout the game and will be a key piece in the team’s offense going into the 2019 season.
Image: Clemson wide receiver Justyn Ross makes amazing 1 handed catch during CFB national championship game
Head Coach Dabo Swinney has truly changed the culture at Clemson. His 55-4 record since taking over the team in 2015 is only matched by Nick Saban at Alabama, and he is now just the 2nd active coach in college football with multiple national championship, (Saban, 5). Swinney, who wont turn 50 until later this year, is set up for the next few years and beyond. Oh and incase you were wondering, Clemson is already the favorite to win the 2020 National Championship.
Image: Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney holds national championship trophy alongside defensive MVP of the game Trayvon Mullen
Do you think Clemson should be the favorite heading into the 2019-2020 season? What team has the best shot and knocking them off? Let me know in the comments below, and as always, Thanks for reading!