Alabama 45, Clemson 40
Alabama, which entered halftime of its first three national title wins under Nick Saban leading by an average of 18.3 points, found itself in uncharted territory as it finished the first half of the College Football Playoff championship deadlocked with Dabo Swinney’s Clemson. On the wings of two spectacular fourth-quarter special teams plays, the Crimson Tide spoiled the Tigers’ FBS-best 17-game winning streak to win their 16th national championship and move their heralded coach within one title of matching the legendary Bear Bryant.Player of the game
- Crimson Tide running back Derrick Henry put an emphatic exclamation mark on his Heisman campaign as he ran past the century mark for a school record 10th time this season with 158 yards and three touchdowns. The junior, who has rushed for a touchdown in 20 straight games, passed Shaun Alexander (3,571 yards) to set the school’s all-time rushing yards record.
- Alabama joined Notre Dame (1943-1949) as the only team to win four national championships during a seven-year span.
- Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson passed for championship record 405 yards and four touchdowns and added 73 rushing yards; the sophomore became the first quarterback in NCAA history to throw for 4,000 yards and run for 1,000 yards in a single season.
- Alabama tight end O.J. Howard caught five passes for a national title game record 208 yards and two touchdowns; the junior entered the game with a previous career high of 81 yards and 394 receiving yards this season.
- Clemson, which finished the third quarter with a 24-21 lead, fell for the first time in its last 52 games when entering the fourth quarter with a lead.
- Crimson Tide quarterback Jake Coker threw for a career-high 335 yards and two touchdowns.
- Clemson scored 14 points in the opening quarter; Alabama allowed just 19 first-quarter points through its first 14 games.
- The Crimson Tide improved to 38-1 under Saban when not committing a turnover.
- The Tigers finished with 550 yards of total offense, marking the 10th straight game they racked up at least 500 yards, while the Crimson Tide finished with 473 yards.
- After Howard hauled in a game-changing 63-yard reception, Henry’s final rushing touchdown, which came from 1 yard out with 1:07 remaining, gave Alabama a 12-point lead and sealed Saban’s fifth national title.
- Clemson All-American cornerback Mackensie Alexander missed the entire second half after reinjuring his hamstring in the first half.