Alabama wins its 16th National Championship, 45-40 over Clemson.

January 15, 2016 at 1:20 pm Leave a comment

Alabama won its 16th national championship thanks to incredible special teams play and the reemergence of stars who spent most of the 2015 season in the shadows.

The Crimson Tide knocked off Clemson 45-40 in Alabama’s closest national championship game in the Nick Saban era. Alabama can thank Bobby Williams’ special teams unit for delivering the two biggest plays of the game. Kicker Adam Griffith hit the perfect onside kick and running back Kenyan Drake had a 95-yard kickoff return for touchdown to steal the win away from Dabo Swinney’s crew. Each had up and down seasons at Alabama but delivered in a big way in the title game.

Tight end O.J. Howard, who hasn’t scored a touchdown in two years, scored two against Clemson to provide an offensive spark. Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry added three touchdowns and surpassed Shaun Alexander as Alabama’s career rushing leader.

First Quarter

Alabama struck first but Clemson landed two blows in the first quarter of the national championship game.

The Crimson Tide got on the board early in the first quarter when Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry broke loose for a 50-yard touchdown. Right tackle Dominick Jackson created a huge hole that Henry galloped through for an easy touchdown.

Clemson quickly responded when Deshaun Watson threw a beautiful 31-yard touchdown pass to walk-on receiver Hunter Renfrow. Two Alabama defenders had good coverage on Renfrow but Watson put the ball in the perfect spot.

On the last play of the quarter, Watson found Renfrow again for an 11-yard touchdown.

Key play: Derrick Henry capitalizing on a huge hole for a 50-yard touchdown.

Key player: Derrick Henry gets the nod after rushing for 86 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter.

Second quarter

With Alabama badly needing a defensive stop, Eddie Jackson reached up and grabbed an interception.

The Alabama safety capitalized on a poor Deshaun Watson throw to give Alabama good field position and stop Clemson’s offensive momentum. Alabama cashed in on the turnover a few plays later on a Derrick Henry 1-yard touchdown run behind a jumbo package of A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed.

Watson wasn’t as effective against Alabama as he was in the first quarter. The Clemson quarterback took a few big hits and couldn’t keep the offense in rhythm. The Tigers had a chance to break the 14-14 tie late in the quarter but Greg Huegel missed a 44-yard field goal attempt.

Key play: Eddie Jackson’s interception to stop Clemson’s offensive momentum.

Key player: Derrick Henry added his second touchdown of the night.

Third quarter

O.J. Howard reminded everyone of its talents in the third quarter.

The Alabama junior tight end was wide open for a 57-yard touchdown — his first touchdown in two years– to give Alabama an early lead in the third quarter. Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin started celebrating the minute Howard broke past his defender.

Clemson had an answer, though.

The Tigers cut the lead to 21-17 on a 37-yard field goal. Clemson then took the lead with 4:48 left in the quarter on a Wayne Gallman 1-yard touchdown. The drive was set up with quarterback Deshaun Watson’s scrambling ability as the Clemson star gashed Alabama with runs of 20, 16 and 5 yards.

Key play: O.J. Howard’s 57-yard touchdown catch to give Alabama the lead.

Key player: Jake Coker delivering a right on the money pass to take the lead.

Fourth quarter

It was as gutsy a call as Nick Saban’s ever made and it worked out perfectly.

Adam Griffith kicked a perfect “pop” onside kick and cornerback Marlon Humphrey recovered the ball around the 50-yard line. The decision turned the game upside down and Alabama capitalized two plays later on another Jake Coker to O.J. Howard touchdown pass.

Later, Alabama’s special teams came up big again when Kenyan Drake took the kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. It was the biggest play of Drake’s career at Alabama and couldn’t have come at a better moment.

Alabama delivered big blow after big blow but Clemson didn’t back down. The Tigers scored two more touchdowns to keep the game within striking distance but couldn’t capitalize on a two-point conversion attempt and were never able to regain the lead after that onside kick.

Alabama finished Clemson off with a combination of Howard and Henry. Coker connected with the junior tight end for a 63-yard gain and let Henry finish things off with a 1-yard touchdown.

Key play:
Adam Griffith’s perfect onside kick that stole the momentum and set up the win.

Key player: O.J. Howard scoring his second long touchdown of the game to give Alabama the lead.

 

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Entry filed under: Alabama Crimson Tide, College Football, Male.

BAMA Dominates Mich. State 38-0 Alabama owns LSU. The Crimson Tide is the Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer in this rivalry and the Tigers are the nail. “I don’t think the stage is too big for him at all”, Saban said about Hurts. We struggled to pass protect. While it wasn’t Fournette’s night by any stretch, it was a showcase performance for a multitude of draft prospects on the Alabama defense. Fournette, whose 2015 Heisman Trophy hopes faded when he was held to 31 yards on 19 carries in Tuscaloosa a year ago, had 35 yards on 17 carries. Rawleigh Williams ran for 148 yards and two TDs for the Razorbacks. Also consider that, on a day in which No. 4 Texas A&M and No. 11 Florida lost to unranked opponents on the road, Alabama coach Nick Saban kept his team focused enough to beat a resurgent LSU team in an extremely hostile environment. “His “want to” to have success against Alabama is as high as any other player I’ve seen and so is our team”. The Crimson Tide gained just 323 yards, an fantastic work night for LSU’s defense, under pressure all game because its offense couldn’t produce any field position or breathing room. “It’s very frustrating”, LSU defensive end Arden Key said. The Bulldogs, who are still the same team that lost to South Alabama, had no answer for Auburn’s running game and will crumble back down to earth next week in Tuscaloosa. They never got their big horse going. Someday came very soon for the Tide. After the offense put points on the board in the fourth quarter, this Crimson Tide defense really put the clamps on the LSU Tigers. In the end, CBS was half right. Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s crew forced two turnovers and stuffed Alabama with a masterful goal-line stand on Bama’s first drive of the second half. Hurts, a freshman, was the game’s leading rusher with 114 yards on 20 carries. Alabama’s menacing and chiseled defensive line blew up LSU’s offensive strategy on multiple occasions, forcing Tiger quarterback Danny Etling – who finished 11-24 for 92 yards and an interception – to work under vast pressure en route to completing 7-of-13 passes for 64 yards through the first 30 minutes. “He made some errors early in the game that were costly”, said Saban on Hurts. “We just didn’t execute, ” Orgeron said. LSU’s last gasp drive saw a 2-yard Etling completion and enveloped by three incompletions, a whimper of a drive to end a quiet offensive night. The Crimson Tide took the 10-0 lead with 2:45 to play in the game on a 17-yard field goal by Adam Griffith, eating up 9:51 of the fourth quarter on a 50-yard drive in 15 plays that buried the Tigers and finally silenced a raucous crowd that at times was deafening. For the first three quarters, all packed in Tiger Stadium endured 45 minutes worth of scoreless football. LSU safety Jamal Adams intercepted Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts on the Tide’s first drive, giving the Tigers possession at the Alabama 33-yard line. The Tigers, however, were not able to capitalize on the opportunity, as Colby Delahoussaye’s 49-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Alabama defensive back Ronnie Harrison. The momentum was gone just as quick as it came. After that, the Tide ran out the clock after Etling couldn’t lead a comeback. There was no further scoring in the half. “Defense did a hell of a job all night”. “It’ll be the sixth year we lose to them”. From there, Alabama went on a 90-yard march studded with crucial plays. Hurts connected with Calvin Ridley for a 21 yard reception the following play down to the LSU 24. LSU had already had one huge goal line stop earlier in the game, so an Alabama score was not a sure thing. Hurts, twice on third downs with nine or more yards to go, busted LSU’s defense for 11 and 23 yards, respectively. Once again, LSU’s defense stiffened. LSU’s chances of competing for the SEC crown ended with Saturday’s defeat. Lackluster offenses were part of the reason this game was so low-scoring, but in reality, the 10-0 scored reflects exactly how dominant both defenses were.

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