No. 1 ranked Clemson vs. No. 2 ranked Alabama lived up to any and all hype. The back-and-forth affair felt like a heavyweight fight, with both teams throwing incredible haymakers at one another. Once again, the College Football Playoff did its job, as this championship undoubtedly featured the two best teams in the country.
The Alabama Crimson Tide managed to claim their fourth title in seven years, but it was by no means easy. Let’s take a look at the 5 biggest takeaways from the best college football game of the season:
1. Nick Saban Is The Best Coach In College Football History
With a total of five National Championships in his head coaching career, Saban has officially earned the title as greatest college football coach of all-time. His ability as a recruiter, motivator and in-game strategist are second to none. Earning about $7.1 million per season, Saban has proven to be worth every cent.
2. Clemson Belonged In The National Championship
Skeptics worried Clemson would be no match for a dominant Alabama squad, but the Tigers’ 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter quickly wiped away any fear. The offense was as explosive as expected, and the defense did a respectable job slowing down Derrick Henry (aside from his 50-yard touchdown).
3. Special Teams Proved To Be The Difference
Plenty of experts pointed to special teams as the area that could decide this game. They proved to be correct, as Clemson’s fourth quarter meltdown on special teams ended up being the difference. Allowing the Tide to recover a surprise onside kick and letting Kenyan Drake return a kickoff for a 95-yard touchdown was too much for Clemson to overcome.
4. Big Games Always Yield An Unlikely Superstar
On the game’s biggest stage, football has a tendency for an under-the-radar player to emerge. In this one, it was Alabama’s tight end O.J. Howard – a player who had 394 receiving yards on the season heading into this game. Howard had five catches for 208 yards, giving Alabama the big plays it so desperately needed to keep pace with Clemson’s explosive offense.
5. These Two Teams Could Provide A National Championship Rematch Next Season
Alabama always finds its way to the top of the college football world, no matter which players they lose to the NFL. Clemson is expected to lose some talent on the defensive side of the ball, but their offense should be even better next season. Quarterback Deshaun Watson will be a Heisman front-runner, running back Wayne Gallman will continue to get better, and Clemson should run the table against a weak ACC to get back in the playoff.
If history is any indication, we know Alabama will be waiting for them.
Source: USA Today