It was the rematch everyone wanted and finished with the ending not many saw coming.
Clemson, facing an Alabama team that had been unbeatable in title games, saved the best for last as junior Deshaun Watson led the Tigers to a 35-31 championship victory.
"I'd seen the two minutes and one second on the clock, and I just smiled and I just knew," Watson said after Monday's title game. "I told myself, 'They left too much time on the clock.'"
Watson's 2- yard pass to Hunter Renfrow ended a legendary title game to give Clemson their first national championship since 1981. Alabama was going for its fifth national title in eight years, a move that would have cemented the Tide as one of the all-time greatest teams in college football.
Behind 24-14 at the start of the fourth quarter, Clemson took the lead for the first time in the game with four minutes left when Mike Williams made an acrobatic catch to extend the drive. Running back Wayne Gallman then scored from the 1.
Alabama however, nearly held on to the title when it pulled off a lateral trick play with a wide receiver pass for a 24 yard gain. The ensuing 30-yard TD run by QB Jalen Hurts put the Tide ahead with two minutes left.
But rather than fold, the Tigers came together. “It was calm; no one was panicked,” Watson recalled after the game. “I said, ‘Let’s be legendary.’”
Nine plays later and with just a few seconds left, Watson took the snap, rolled to his right and hit Renfrow in the end zone to stun the college football world.