The dynasty has fallen. In a record-breaking loss, the Alabama Crimson Tide has fallen to the Clemson Tigers 44-16. The fourth meeting for the playoffs, the third time they have faced off in the National Championship Game, the second time Clemson has won, first time in such a dominating manner.
In front of 74,814 spectators, in 61-degree weather, there were three touchdowns in the first 4:25 minutes of the game. After Alabama’s Joseph Bulovas kicked the extra point straight into the upright, the Tide went 45 yards to set up a 25-yard field goal for a 16-14 lead. But then came the interceptions. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama’s Heisman Trophy runner-up, threw an interception on the third play of the game, which was returned for a touchdown by A.J. Terrell. The second of the night, thrown by Tua Tagovailoa, intended for Jerry Jeudy, but caught by Clemson Tiger, Trayvon Mullen.
TUA PICKED OFF AGAIN!!!
Trayvon Mullen with the pick and great return to get the ball back to Clemson 🤲🤲🤲 pic.twitter.com/wLvfzYau0l
— The Sports Quotient (@SportsQuotient) January 8, 2019
The Tide seemed to roll on out after this play, never recovering from the loss. Mullen returned the interception for 46 yards, and the high-intensity Clemson offense drove the ball right down to a 28-16 lead over Alabama. A few more plays, a sack, and a field goal later, the score was up 31-16, and Alabama was looking for a miracle after the half.
No Comeback Kings
Even though they were trailing at the start of the third quarter, the Tide seemed ready to make a comeback, and then came the ridiculous fake punt. The ball was snapped to Mac Jones, however, Clemson’s Nyles Pinckney tackled Jones behind the line of scrimmage before he could get anywhere.
And then came the Kirby tweets… It was impossible not to think of the SEC title game when watching this ill-advised play. In the Georgia game, the score was tied and the Bulldogs tried to fake a punt that was also unsuccessful. That play, in turn, allowed Alabama to score, paving their way into the College Football Playoff. Alabama was not so fortunate this time, however.
Alabama fans: “Georgia is so dumb to do a fake punt on 4th and 11 at midfield.”
*Alabama tries a fake field goal against Clemson down 31-16 early in the 3rd quarter and fails*
— Seth Taylor (@sethtaylor91) January 8, 2019
Tua was replaced in the fourth quarter by Jalen Hurts, but Alabama never scored again.
In a post-game interview, Alabama head coach Nick Saban was quoted as saying, “I have a feeling I didn’t do a very good job for our team…never got comfortable with what we needed to do on defense. Our secondary versus their receivers. It was bothering me going into the game and as it unfolded, those matchups were a big difference.”
In the end, Alabama averaged 6.06 yards per play, below its average of 7.89 that ranked second nationally. The Tigers held the Crimson Tide to 31 points below their season average as well.
Clemson accounted for 482 yards of offense in 63 plays. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence threw for 347 yards on 20-for-32 passing, no interceptions, and three touchdowns. He also rushed the ball six times for 27 yards. He is the third quarterback in a row to win the offensive MVP award, and nearly became the 10th college quarterback to throw for 350 yards against Alabama’s defense. Lawrence also became the first true freshman starting quarterback to win a National Championship game since 1985. Lawrence and junior defensive back Trayvon Mullen both were named the game’s most valuable players. Mullen intercepted a pass and returned it for 46 yards, tallied six tackles, and a forced fumble.
Clemson also finished No. 1 in the final College Football Top 25 poll for the third time after routing Alabama in the National Championship Game, finishing an incredible season 15-0. Clemson also finished No. 1 in 2016 and 1981.
— Clemson Football (@ClemsonFB) January 8, 2019
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