Alabama won its 10th national championship with a 45-40 victory over Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday night.
The Crimson Tide have now won four national titles in the past seven years, all under coach Nick Saban.
In the fourth quarter, Saban took one of the biggest gambles of his career as he called an onside kick just after Adam Griffith tied the game at 24 a piece with a field goal. Marlon Humphrey recovered and two plays later Jake Coker hit tight end O.J. Howard for a 51-yard touchdown.
“We weren’t playing very well on defense,” Saban said. “It was a tie game. I thought we needed to do something that was going to change the momentum of the game. That certainly did.”
Howard caught five passes for a career-high 208 yards, while Coker passed for a career-best 335 yards, running back Derrick Henry rushed for 158 yards and Kenyan Drake returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown.
For Clemson, Deshaun Watson gave Alabama all that it could handle, throwing for 405 yards, four touchdowns and rushing for 73 yards on 20 carries. Hunter Renfrow hauled in two of Watson’s touchdown passes on his way to 88 yards receiving.
“All the stats don’t really matter to me,” Watson said. “I just wanted to get the win and do something that we haven’t done in 34 years.”
Alabama was a unanimous No. 1 in the final AP poll and Clemson finished No. 2.