Clemson won its first national title since the 1981 season Monday night, getting a two-yard touchdown pass from Deshaun Watson to Hunter Renfrow to defeat Alabama, 35-31.
The Tigers capped the victory with a nine-play, 68-yard drive over nearly the entire final 2:01, a drive for which Watson was clearly prepared. “I just smiled right when they scored,” Watson told the media after the game. “I (saw) the two minutes and one second on the clock, and I just smiled, and I just knew.”
Clemson compiled 511 yards of total offense in the contest, with Watson accounting for 463 of those yards. The junior, who announced his intent to leave school for the NFL after the game, completed 36-of-56 passes for 420 yards and three scores. The Tiger signal-caller also carried 21 times for 43 yards and a score. Renfrow’s game-winning catch was his tenth, as the redshirt sophomore from Myrtle Beach, S.C. finished with 92 yards and two touchdowns.
Both teams finished the season 14-1.
Alabama opens the 2017-18 campaign September 2, facing off with Florida State in the Chick-fil-A College Kickoff in Atlanta’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Clemson will host Kent State on that same day to begin its defense of the national title.