Glendale Arizona was the site of the college football national championship game on Monday January 11, 2016. The game featured the two best teams this season, the #1 Clemson Tigers verse the #2 Alabama Crimson Tide. It would showcase a high powered offense led by quarterback Deshaun Watson for Clemson verse a tough #1 defense for Alabama. Alabama would display their massive offensive line with Heisman trophy running back Derrick Henry verse a staunch #2 ranked defense for Clemson. Something had to give, and what gave was a tremendous game.
Alabama struck first with a 50 yard touchdown run by Henry. Not to be out done, Watson would lead Clemson down the field to tie the game at 7-7. Right before the end of the first quarter, Watson throws another touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow. That gave Clemson a 14-7 lead. The only scoring in the second quarter would be an Alabama touchdown from the one yard line by Henry, tying the game at 14.
After halftime, Alabama would score on a Jake Coker to O.J. Howard 53 yard touchdown pass. Clemson would respond in the third quarter, by scoring a touchdown and a field goal to take a 24-21 lead. The next and final 15 minutes of the game would include 40 total points by both teams. Included in that would be a gutsy, perfectly planned onside kick by Alabama with the game tied at 24. Kenyan Drake would return a 95 yard kickoff return for a touchdown to put Alabama up 11 points with 7:31 left to go in the game. Watson would lead Clemson on three scoring drives (one field goal, two touchdowns) in that epic fourth quarter. Then with 12 seconds left on the clock, Clemson failed to recover the onside kick. Game over! The final score would be Alabama 45 Clemson 40.
The thousands of fans at the game and the millions watching were treated to a game that lived up to the hype. They witnessed Alabama’s Henry finish the game with 36 carries for 158 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Coker would lead Alabama in passing with 335 yards and two touchdowns. Those two touchdowns were to Howard, who had 208 yards receiving. Fans were treated to the single greatest performance by an individual in a national championship game by Clemson’s Watson. The quarterback had a record of 478 total yards including a record 405 yards passing. It just wasn’t enough to stop coach Nick Saban and Alabama from their fourth national championship in seven seasons – 2009, 2011, and 2012 – and the teams 16th overall. How sweet it is!