Alabama blown out in College Football Playoff National Championship


By Hannah Saad

Cody Estremera and James Ogletree

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Alabama’s once-transcendent offense and once-reliable defense both failed to show up in Monday night’s College Football Playoff National Championship Game loss to Clemson. Five drives inside Clemson’s 22-yard line netted one touchdown and a field goal, and the defense’s penalties and coverage errors doomed a chance at coach Nick Saban’s seventh national championship.

Play of the game:

Leading by 15, Clemson faced a third-and-8. Trevor Lawrence took the snap and, off his back foot, found a wide open Justyn Ross, who sprinted 74 yards for a touchdown. The score put Clemson up by three touchdowns.

Offensive player of the game

Cody Estremera: Jerry Jeudy

James Ogletree: Jerry Jeudy

Defensive player of the game

Cody Estremera: Xavier McKinney

James Ogletree: Quinnen Williams

Fan players of the game

Offensive: Josh Jacobs

Defensive: Quinnen Williams


  • After forcing a three-and-out on Clemson’s opening drive, Alabama’s offense had two nice gains before Tua Tagovailoa threw an interception to Clemson cornerback A.J. Terrell, who returned it 44 yards for a touchdown.
  • Following two Damien Harris runs, Tagovailoa’s next pass after the interception was a 62-yard touchdown to Jerry Jeudy. Not even three minutes into the game, it was tied 7-7.
  • Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence hit receiver Tee Higgins for a 62-yard gain on third-and-14 on the Tigers’ ensuing drive. Running back Travis Etienne scored from 17 yards out on the next play.
  • Senior tight end Hale Hentges, one of Alabama’s permanent captains, caught his fourth pass and third touchdown of the season, but kicker Joseph Bulovas missed the extra point to leave the Crimson Tide trailing by one point.
  • Alabama kept the offense on the field on fourth-and-1 from Clemson’s 6-yard line. For the fifth time this season, Josh Jacobs received the snap, and for the fifth time, he converted the first down. The offense stalled after that, though, and Bulovas made a 25-yard field goal to give the team its first lead of the game, 16-14, early in the second quarter.
  • More mistakes followed for the Crimson Tide. A kickoff out of bounds preceded a poor tackling angle, a pass interference foul and a third-down coverage bust let to Etienne scoring his second touchdown of the game.
  • Jacobs carried the ball in the Wildcat formation on a fourth-and-1 for the second time, again picking up the first down.
  • Tagovailoa threw another interception, his fourth in three games, by overthrowing Jeudy into triple coverage. Clemson cornerback Trayvon Mullen returned the ball 46 yards to near midfield.
  • Etienne found the end zone for the third time of the first half on a 5-yard pass from Lawrence. Alabama trailed 28-16 with 4:38 left before halftime. Etienne became the first player with three touchdowns from scrimmage against Alabama since Texas A&M’s Malcome Kennedy did it in 2013.
  • Clemson tacked on a field goal in the final minute of the first half to push its lead to 31-16. It was the second time in 167 games under Nick Saban that the defense allowed that many points before halftime (2014 Sugar Bowl vs. Oklahoma).
  • The Jacobs Wildcat ended its perfect streak on Alabama’s opening drive of the second half, but it did convert the first down on the very next play, a fourth-and-1 at Clemson’s 40-yard line. It worked again three plays later, moving its success rate to 8-of-9 for the season.
  • Alabama attempted a fake field goal on fourth-and-6 but Clemson was ready, dragging Mac Jones down short of the first-down line.
  • Clemson, after going 4-of-7 for 107 yards on third down in the first half, scored on a 74-yard pass on its first third down of the second half. Junior cornerback Saivion Smith was injured on the play and was carted off the field.
  • Alabama again drove inside Clemson’s 14-yard line on its next drive, but a Tagovailoa scramble fell one yard short of the line to gain and the Tigers took over on downs.
  • Lawrence continued to work his third-down magic, completing a 37-yard pass down the sideline to true freshman Justyn Ross on third-and-13. Ross had another eye-popping catch for a 9-yard gain, followed by Lawrence hitting Tee Higgins for a 5-yard touchdown. That put the Tigers up 44-16 with 21 seconds left in the third quarter. That tied the second-most points a team had ever scored on the Crimson Tide under Saban.
  • For the third time in the second half, an Alabama drive into the red zone netted zero points. Three runs lost eight total yards after the Crimson Tide got to Clemson’s 1-yard line early in the fourth quarter.
  • Jalen Hurts entered the game midway through the fourth quarter.