TAMPA — In the end, the sequel was better than the original.
And this time, it was a happy ending for Clemson.
The Crimson Tide couldn’t hold off two-time Heisman finalist Deshaun Watson, and the second-ranked Tigers upset No. 1 Alabama in a College Football Playoff title game rematch 35-31 early Tuesday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. It’s Clemson’s first national title since the 1981 season.
With one second remaining, Watson found sophomore wide receiver Hunter Renfrow for the game-winning touchdown pass.
In last year’s title game, which Alabama won 45-40, Watson gave the Crimson Tide trouble, completing 30 of 47 passes for 405 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 73 yards.
On Monday night, the Clemson junior quarterback got off to a slow start but heated up as the game went along, finishing with 36-of-56 passing for 420 yards and three touchdowns and for 43 yards rushing with one score.
Alabama (14-1), which had the chance to go wire-to-wire as No. 1, lost its first game since September 19, 2015, ending a 26-game win streak.
Clemson finishes at 14-1.