The "We Want Bama" signs around college football are often hoisted in jest by fans who know better.
For Deshaun Watson, however, the wish was real.
The Clemson quarterback acknowledged he wanted the Crimson Tide to advance in the Peach Bowl on Saturday -- which they did in a 24-7 win over Washington -- to set up a rematch of last year's College Football Playoff title game. Watson, a junior who intends to file for early eligibility to enter the 2017 NFL Draft, will get his second chance at Alabama on Jan. 9 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
"Of course. I want the best of the best," Watson told ESPN following the Tigers' 31-0 rout of Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. "They're the champs. They're the team (to beat)."
Watson should know. He played arguably the most impressive game of his career against the Crimson Tide in last year's CFP final, passing for 405 yards and four touchdowns in a 45-40 Alabama win. He also rushed for 73 yards, giving Alabama's vaunted defense fits with pinpoint accuracy and timely scrambles. The performance prompted an NFL quarterbacks coach to suggest that Watson could be the No. 1 overall pick of the 2017 draft.
Now, he'll get another shot, this time with one of the most talented wide receivers in the college game, Mike Williams, who did not play in last year's title game due to a neck injury. After Saturday's game, Watson has completed 352 of 523 passes for 4,173 yards, 38 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
Clemson cornerback Cordrea Tankersley put it a bit more succinctly: "It's time for new sheriff in town," he said, per Fox Sports.
"(The goal is) finishing. Finishing and being that team takes that stage at the end of the game, and have confetti fall on us," said Watson, who was named the Fiesta Bowl offensive MVP. "We have another opportunity. God doesn't make mistakes. He put us in this position for a reason. I think he's smiling on Clemson University."
For the last two years, Watson has come up short twice as a Heisman Trophy finalist, and once as a national championship contender.
On Jan. 9, he'll get his final chance to win one of the two. And he wants it to come against the toughest of challenges.