The Clemson Tigers secured their second national college football title in three seasons in dominant fashion on Monday night, rolling the defending champion Alabama Crimson Tide, 44-16, in the College Football Playoff Championship Game in Santa Clara, Calif.
Led by true freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the Tigers scored 30 unanswered points on Alabama in the second and third quarter to pull away.
The first true freshman quarterback since 1985 to start and win a national title game, Lawrence outplayed the Heisman finalist across the field, Alabama sophomore Tua Tagovailoa. Lawrence threw for 347 yards and three touchdowns, adding 27 yards on the ground. The frosh struck up a connection with firm-handed freshman wideout Justyn Ross, who racked up a game-high 153 yards and made countless highlight-reel grabs.
Tagovailoa threw for 295 yards and two touchdowns but threw two interceptions, including a pick-six on the third play of Bama's first possession. Tua was pulled in the game's waning moments for former Tide starting quarterback Jalen Hurts.
Whereas Clemson was mightily successful on third down (10 of 15), Alabama struggled, converting just four of 13 third-down attempts and three of six fourth-down attempts. The Tide were held scoreless for the final 44 minutes of the contest.
The 28-point loss is by far Alabama's worst in the Nick Saban era. A team coached by Saban had not lost by more than 14 points since Dec. 17, 2006 when Saban's Miami Dolphins lost 21-0 to the Buffalo Bills.
Clemson finished 15-0, while Alabama fell to 14-1 on the season.