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ICYMI: Alabama Wins CFP National Championship
- Updated: January 12, 2016
The Crimson Tide needed all their power and speed. They needed all their talent and steely resolve. When that alone couldn’t do it, it was up to one gutsy trick to help win the fourth national title of the Saban dynasty.
Derrick Henry, O.J. Howard and Kenyan Drake hit No. 1 Clemson with long touchdowns, and No. 2 Alabama outlasted the dynamic play Deshaun Watson to win the College Football Playoff championship 45-40 on Monday night.
The Crimson Tide (14-1) won their three previous championship game appearances in runaway fashion. This game was an instant classic, which was a relief for fans who had sat through the blowouts that turned the New Year’s Six lineup into a dud.
With 10:34 left in the fourth quarter and Alabama having just tied the game at 24-24, Saban took a gamble to try to keep the ball away from Watson. He called for an onside kick called “pop kick” from Adam Griffith, and Alabama defensive back Marlon Humphrey caught it over the shoulder at midfield. The tide turned right at that point abd turned into one of Nick Saban’s best play calls of his coaching career.
“I made the decision to do it because the score was [tied] and we were tired on defense and weren’t doing a great job of getting them stopped and felt like if we didn’t do something or take a chance to change the momentum of the game that we wouldn’t have a chance to win,” Saban said.
Moments later, Alabama took back the lead for good. For the second time, Clemson (14-1) lost track of the tight end Howard in coverage, and Jake Coker hit him in stride deep for a 51-yard touchdown to make it 31-24 with 9:45 left.
That onside kick stunned the stadium and Clemson, and brought a big grin to the face of the country’s most serious coach. The Tide will send another batch of players to the NFL this year, as Saban always does. There is another wave ready to roll.