PURRFECT: CLEMSON CLOBBERS ALABAMA 44-16 FOR 3RD NATIONAL TITLE AND HISTORIC 15-0 SEASON
- 2019-01-08 06:40:27
SANTA CLARA, CA - What a resounding win over the mighty Tide! Probably less than 5% of the national media was picking the Tigers to win, and no one had Clemson blowing Alabama's doors off.
Dabo evened the score with Nick Saban 2-2 and more importantly has taken 2 out of 3 from him in National Championship Games. In actuality, Dabo should be 3-0 against Saban in National Championship Games, as the Tigers outplayed Bama in 2015 but beat themselves with several mistakes. Still, Saban is now 6-2 all-time in National Championship Games with both losses coming to Dabo and the Tigers. Dabo said after the game he can't wait to turn around and do it again next year.
Trevor Lawrence was sensational, passing for 347 yards, the most against Alabama in the last two years, and he became just the second true freshman ever to start and win a National Championship Game. He had help, of course--especially from fellow true freshman Justyn Ross, who played his best two games of the season in the College Football Playoff. He made two of the best catches you'll ever see on the same touchdown drive, including perhaps the best catch ever in a National Championship Game. Travis Etienne turned in his fourth hat trick of the season, rushing for 3 touchdowns in the first half.
The defense was also superb, stifling Alabama all night in the red zone. Trayvon Mullen was Defensive MVP, coming up with a huge interception and return in the first half, and A.J. Terrell had a pick-six on Alabama's first possession to put the Tigers up 7-0. Terrell also recorded the first INT of the season for the Tigers in their fifth game.
With the monumental win, Clemson is the first program since Penn in 1897 to go 15-0. Renfrow, Wilkins, Ferrell, Hyatt, Joseph, Bryant, Huegel and the rest of the seniors go out on top, tying the Alabama seniors with an all-time best 55-4 record. Wilkins had tears in his eyes on stage during the trophy celebration. What a moment for him and the other seniors who decided to forego the NFL and come back this season!
I'll have the post-game PC with Dabo, Offensive MVP Trevor Lawrence and Defensive MVP Trayvon Mullen posted in a bit along with coach and player interviews. Stay tuned!
- Clemson and Alabama met in a bowl game/national championship for the fourth consecutive year, the first such tetralogy in college football history.
- Clemson and Alabama now have a combined 110-8 record since 2015. Excluding the four games the teams have contested against one another in that time frame, the Tigers and Tide are a combined 106-4 (96.4 percent) against all other competition over the last four seasons.
- The game was a matchup of two winningest senior classes in major college football history, as Alabama and Clemson entered the contest with 55 and 54 wins over the last four years, respectively. The win by Clemson extended its ACC record for a senior class to 55 and tied Alabama’s seniors for the most in history.
- Clemson tied a College Football Playoff National Championship record with two interceptions. Alabama entered the game with only two interceptions in 14 games this season.
- Clemson recorded 90 return yards on interceptions, breaking a school bowl record previously set in the 2009 Gator Bowl against Nebraska (63).
- During the contest, Clemson (664) became the second team in ACC history to score 650 points in a single season (Florida State, 723 in 2013).
- Clemson scored 40 points in a ninth game this season to break a tie with the 2012 and 2013 Tigers (eight each) for the most 40-point games in a season in school history.
- Clemson added to its existing school record by reaching 27 points in a 15th straight game.
- Clemson earned its 13th win by 20 points or more, surpassing 2013 Florida State (12) for the most by any team in a single season since the turn of the century. It also extended Clemson’s school-record streak of consecutive 20-point wins to 10 games.
- Clemson scored 31 points in the opening two quarters to set a school bowl record for points in a first half, surpassing the 27 first-half points scored by the Tigers in the 1986 Gator Bowl and 2014 Russell Athletic Bowl.
- Clemson’s 31 first-half points represented the first time Alabama had allowed 31 points in a single half since the 2014 Sugar Bowl (Oklahoma, 31 first-half points in a 45-31 win).
- Including the 482 yards gained against Alabama, Clemson (7,908) broke the school and ACC record of 7,718, set in 2015.
- Clemson sealed the victory with a 14-play, 94-yard drive that lasted 10:02 to run out the clock. It was the first 10-minute drive in Clemson history, exceeding the previous longest drive in school history of 9:47 against Maryland on Sept. 10, 2005.
- Clemson did not surrender a point in the second half and finished the game having scored 30 unanswered points.
- Offensive MVP Trevor Lawrence completed 20 of 32 passing attempts for 347 yards and three touchdowns and was named the Offensive Player of the Game.
- Lawrence entered the game having thrown a career-long 137 consecutive pass attempts without an interception, with his most recent interception coming on his final pass attempt at Boston College on Nov. 10. On his eighth attempt of the game, a 26-yard pass to Tavien Feaster, Lawrence broke Cullen Harper’s single-season school record of 143 consecutive interception-free attempts in 2007.
- On a 62-yard pass to wide receiver Tee Higgins in the first quarter, Lawrence reached 3,000 passing yards on the season to record only the seventh individual 3,000-yard passing season in school history.
- Lawrence became only the second true freshman to win a national championship as a starting quarterback, joining Oklahoma’s Jamelle Holieway (1985).
- On his 28th touchdown pass of the year, Lawrence pushed past Cullen Harper for sixth-most touchdown passes in a season in school history (27 in 2007).
- Lawrence’s second passing touchdown of the game was the 29th of his career, as he supplanted Mike Eppley (28 from 1980-84) for eighth in career passing touchdowns in school history.
- Lawrence’s third passing touchdown of the game was his 30th of the season. His 2018 campaign represents only the sixth season of 30 or more passing touchdowns in school history, accomplished previously by Tajh Boyd (three times) and Deshaun Watson (twice).
- Clemson reached the 4,000-yard passing mark as a team on the season, representing the program’s fifth 4,000-yard passing season in school history. The 2018 season joins the 2015 campaign as the only seasons in school history featuring 4,000 passing yards and 3,000 rushing yards.
- Clemson opened the scoring on a 44-yard interception return by cornerback A.J. Terrell, his first career touchdown. Clemson improved to 39-0 when scoring first since 2015.
- The 44-yard return for touchdown by Terrell set a College Football Playoff record for the longest interception return for touchdown in College Football Playoff history, breaking the 41-yard mark held by Ohio State’s Steve Miller from the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 2015.
- In College Football Playoff National Championship history, Terrell’s interception return was the first interception return for touchdown, the longest defensive return, and the first non-offensive score to open a game.
- The interception was Terrell’s career-high and team-leading third of the season.
- Terrell was the 22nd different player to score a touchdown for Clemson this season, surpassing the 2013 Tigers (21) for the most in a single season in school history.
- Running back Travis Etienne totaled three touchdowns, two rushing and one receiving, for the night. On the ground, he gained 86 yards on 14 carries.
- Etienne added to his existing single-season school records, finishing the year with school marks in rushing yards (1,658), rushing touchdowns (24) and total touchdowns (26).
- Etienne tied the Clemson bowl record for total touchdowns in a bowl game, matching the three touchdowns (all rushing) set by fullback Tracy Johnson against Penn State in the 1988 Citrus Bowl.
- On his final score of the game, Etienne tied the ACC record for total touchdowns, set by Pitt’s James Conner (26, all rushing, in 2014). Etienne’s 24 rushing touchdowns this season ranked second behind Conner’s 2014 campaign.
- Etienne scored on a 17-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and a one-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
- Etienne’s second rushing touchdown of the game was Clemson’s 49th rushing touchdown of the season, breaking the ACC record for rushing touchdowns in a single season, held previously by the 2012 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (48).
- Etienne added his second receiving touchdown of the season on a five-yard reception in the second quarter.
- Wide receiver Justyn Ross was Clemson’s leading receiver, amassing 153 yards with a touchdown over six receptions. He broke his own school freshman bowl record for receiving yards, exceeding his 148 yards in the Cotton Bowl against Notre Dame.
- Ross became the first Clemson player with consecutive 100-yard receiving games since Mike Williams against Syracuse and Pitt in 2016.
- Ross became the first Clemson freshman with back-to-back 100-yard receiving games since Artavis Scott vs. South Carolina and Oklahoma in 2014.
- Ross recorded the longest reception in Clemson bowl history in the third quarter, scoring on a 74-yard pass fromLawrence to surpass a 68-yarder from Harvey White to Gary Barnes against TCU in the 1959 Bluebonnet Bowl.
- The 74-yard reception was the longest of Ross’ career, surpassing his 59-yard touchdown catch against Louisville.
- Wide receiver Tee Higgins caught a five-yard touchdown pass from Lawrence in the third quarter.
- With his 12th receiving touchdown of the season, Higgins tied Sammy Watkins (12 in 2011 and 2013) for second on the school’s leaderboard for receiving touchdowns in a single season.
- Higgins matched his career best by catching a touchdown in a fourth consecutive game, matching a streak he set earlier this season.
- Running back Tavien Feaster recorded a season-long 26-yard reception in the second quarter.
- Wide receiver Hunter Renfrow added to his school records for career starts by a wide receiver (47) and consecutive games with a reception (43).
- Clemson did not allow a sack in the contest against an Alabama defense that ranked tied for fifth in the nation this season with 45.0 sacks.
- Clemson recorded two sacks to push its single-season school record this year to 54..
- Defensive end Clelin Ferrell made his 44th career start to break Levon Kirkland's school record for starts by a defensive end/outside linebacker (43 from 1988-91).
- Cornerback Trayvon Mullen recorded his first interception of the season -- the fourth of his career -- in the second quarter en route to Defensive MVP honors.
- The interception was Mullen’s first since Nov. 25, 2017, against South Carolina.
- Mullen later added his second sack of the season in the second quarter, notching his first career forced fumble on the play.
- Kicker Greg Huegel made his 48th career start at kicker to pass Aaron Welch for second-most career starts by a Clemson kicker all-time (52, Chandler Catanzaro).
- With his first PAT, his 72nd of the season, Huegel broke his own single-season team record of 71 PATs from 2016. Huegel has accounted for three of the top five seasons in PATs in school history.
- Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins and tight end Cannon Smith extended their existing school records by playing in their 59th career games.
- Wilkins became the first winner of the William V. Campbell Trophy to play in the College Football Playoff National Championship and the first to win both in the same year. He joined Barrett Jones (2012 Alabama), Joaquin Gonzales (2001 Miami), Danny Wuerffel (1996 Florida) and Rob Zatechka (1994 Nebraska) as the only players to win the Campbell Trophy and a national championship in the same season.
- Tackle Mitch Hyatt made his 57th career start, concluding his college career with five more starts than any player in Clemson history.
- The game was Clemson’s third in the state of California all-time, joining a game at USC in 1966 and a road contest at Pacific in 1951.
- Captains for the contest were running back Adam Choice, defensive end Clelin Ferrell, tackle Mitch Hyatt, linebackerKendall Joseph, wide receiver Hunter Renfrow and defensive tackle Christian Wilkins.
WITH THE WIN…
- Clemson won its third football national championship in school history, joining the 1981 and 2016 squads. It marks the sixth national championship in any sport in Clemson history (1981 football, 1984 men’s soccer, 1987 men’s soccer, 2003 men’s golf, 2016 football, 2018 football).
- Clemson joined Florida State (three) as the only schools to win three national titles as members of the ACC. Pitt (nine), Miami (five), Georgia Tech (four) have also won at least three national championships, but all of Pitt and Miami's titles predated the schools joining the ACC, as did three of Georgia Tech's four titles.
- Clemson became the second team to win multiple national championships in the College Football Playoff era since 2014 (Alabama).
- Clemson became the first major college football team in the modern era to go 15-0. No major college football team had won 15 games since the 19th century, when Penn posted a 15-0 mark in 1897.
- The 2018 Tigers broke the school record of 14 wins, a mark previously shared with the 2015 and 2016 Tigers.
- Clemson finished its sixth undefeated season (1900, 1906, 1948, 1950, 1981, 2018) and fourth perfect season (1900, 1948, 1981, 2018) in school history.
- When the final AP poll is released, Clemson will become the first team since its own 2016 squad to finish the season as the AP No. 1 despite never appearing at No. 1 at any point of the season. The 2018 Tigers were the 20th team in AP Poll history to do so (2018 Clemson, 2016 Clemson, 2015 Alabama, 2014 Ohio State, 2011 Alabama, 2006 Florida, 2005 Texas, 2002 Ohio State, 1992 Alabama, 1989 Miami, 1987 Miami, 1986 Penn State, 1983 Miami, 1982 Penn State, 1977 Notre Dame, 1973 Notre Dame, 1970 Nebraska, 1965 Alabama, 1964 Alabama and 1946 Notre Dame).
- By virtue of No. 2 Clemson beating No. 1 Alabama, lower-ranked seeds improved to 5-0 all-time in the College Football Playoff National Championship, including victories by No. 4 Ohio State (vs. No. 2 Oregon) in 2014, No. 2 Alabama (vs. No. 1 Clemson) in 2015, No. 2 Clemson (vs. No. 1 Alabama) in 2016 and No. 4 Alabama (vs. No. 3 Georgia) in 2017.
- Clemson improved to 5-2 all-time in College Football Playoff contests and pushed its record in CFP National Championships to 2-1.
- Clemson's seniors improved to 55-4 since 2015 to give the senior class a .932 career winning percentage, breaking the school record set by the 2017 seniors (.877, 50-7). The 2018 senior class became the first in school history to field a winning percentage of .900 or better.
- Clemson won its 15th straight game, tying a 15-game streak from 1947-49 for the second-longest winning streak in program history. It is now the longest active FBS winning streak in the country.
- Clemson earned its 103rd win of the decade. Clemson, Alabama and Ohio State are the only FBS schools to win 100 games in the 2010s.
- Clemson improved its all-time bowl record to 24-20 and its all-time postseason record, including conference championship games, to 29-21.
- The additional bowl win gave the Tigers victories in eight of their last 10 bowl games since the 2012 season. One of the two losses came during the 2015 season in a National Championship that was preceded by an Orange Bowl win, so Clemson has won a bowl game in eight of the last nine years.
- Clemson improved to 2-5 all-time against AP No. 1-ranked teams, with both wins coming against Alabama in College Football Playoff National Championships.
- Clemson improved to 18-2 against AP Top 25 teams since 2015. Clemson’s 18 wins against Top 25 teams are the second-most in the country in that span.
- The 2018 season will mark Clemson’s eighth straight year meeting or exceeding its preseason rankings in the AP and USA Today polls. Clemson has now exceeded its preseason ranking each of the last eight years in the coaches poll and has exceeded its preseason ranking in the AP poll seven of the last eight (Clemson was picked No. 8 in the 2013 AP preseason poll in 2013 and finished No. 8).
- Clemson evened its all-time record in the month of January at 11-11.
- Clemson won its 30th consecutive outdoor game. Clemson is now 55-1 in its last 56 outdoor games dating back to the middle of the 2014 campaign.
- Clemson became just third school to win a National Championship and the AFCA Academic Achievement Award in same year, joining 1988 Notre Dame and 2017 Alabama.
- Head coach Dabo Swinney became only the second active FBS coach to win multiple national championships, joining Alabama's Nick Saban (six, including one at LSU).
- Swinney improved to 14-6 in postseason play, including both conference championships and bowl games.
- Swinney earned his ninth bowl victory all-time, extending his existing school record over Danny Ford (six). The ninth bowl victory pulled him within two of Bobby Bowden’s conference record (11).
- Swinney’s earned his eighth bowl victory since 2012 against coaches with national championships to their credit at various NCAA levels (two each against Urban Meyer, Bob Stoops and Nick Saban, one each against Brian Kelly and Les Miles).
- Swinney earned his 116th career victory to push his career record to 116-30. His 116th career win tied him with College Football Hall of Fame coaches Fritz Crisler and Mike Bellotti in coaching wins at the Division I level.
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