The Clemson Tigers defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide in a 35-31 turnaround victory to win its first NCAA College Football National Championship in three decades.
Pre-game predictions favored the Crimson Tide to win as they rolled into Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Alabama had gone all season without a loss, and for three quarters, the Crimson Tide’s performance honored those expectations.
But, in the championship’s last quarter, Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams caught a four-yard pass to score a Tiger touchdown and narrow Bama’s lead to 24-21 on the scoreboard. Then, Tiger running back Wayne Gallman built on that gain, scoring a one-yard touchdown to secure a 28-24 lead and move Clemson ahead of its opponent for the first time.
Alabama struggled to regain control of the game and snatched back the lead for 31-28 after quarterback Jalen Hurts’ 30-yard touchdown run. But Bama couldn’t hold on.
In the game’s final moments, Tiger wide receiver Hunter Renfrow completed a two-yard pass for a touchdown, bringing Clemson a 35-31 winning score.
Eight years ago, Clemson football head coach Dabo Swinney told reporters he set out to bring a national championship to Clemson after playing “the best team in the country up until the last second of this game.”
“It was our night. It was our time,” said a visibly emotional Swinney after the win.