Clemson University: The CFP National Champions

For the third time in four years, the University of Alabama and Clemson University went head-to-head in the College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship Monday, January 7 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.  The Clemson Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide recently met in the CFP semifinal game last year, with Alabama coming out victorious 24-6 and later beating the University of Georgia in the championship game, according to The New York Times.  After years of back-and-forth wins between the two teams, the Tigers proved triumphant for this year’s championship game.

Alabama and Clemson are used to facing each other.  In the past four years, the two collegiate football teams have battled four times.  Three of the four times were CFP National Championship games, but in 2018 they met at the semifinals in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, a game which Alabama won.  Since their first meet in 1900, Alabama has won 14 matches and Clemson recorded 5, according to 

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence looks for a pass during the fourth quarter of the CFP National Championship game. Courtesy of Matthew Emmons of USA Today, from The New York Times

The game started with an early pick-six by Clemson sophomore A.J. Terrell to put the Tigers ahead 7-0.  Shortly after, however, Alabama caught up with a touchdown to tie the game, which was then followed by another Clemson touchdown. With the score at 14-7 in favor of the Tigers with 10 minutes left in the first quarter, Alabama quarterback sophomore Tua Tagovailoa threw a long pass to sophomore Najee Harris, which the referees originally counted as a touchdown but, upon review, they revoked the play as Najee’s knee touched the ground before the ball crossed the end zone.

Alabama then scored on the next play, but missed the extra point after the touchdown, putting the score at 14-13. 

At the midway point of the second quarter, the Tigers winning 21-16, Tua Tagovailoa threw another interception.  Clemson’s quarterback, freshman Trevor Lawrence, pitched the ball to running back sophomore Travis Etienne, who brought it to the end zone to bring the Tigers’ to a 12-point lead.  To cap off the second quarter and first half of the game, the Tigers held the Crimson Tide at 31-16.

After a performance by pop band Imagine Dragons at halftime, Clemson continued its dominant play and increased their lead to 37-16 after freshman Justyn Ross ran 74 yards to complete a pass from Trevor Lawrence, but Tigers’ placekicker Greg Huegel missed the point after the touchdown.  Later in the third quarter, Clemson extended the lead to 44-16 with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Trevor Lawrence to wide receiver Tee Higgins.  At the end of the third quarter, Clemson sat above the Crimson Tide aided by the contributions of Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne, who finished the night with three touchdowns, according to

The Alabama offensive line neared the Clemson endzone early in the fourth quarter, but the Tigers defense resisted pressure and defended their bountiful lead.  Alabama head coach Mr. Nick Saban benched the starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for junior quarterback Jalen Hurts in hopes of making a miraculous comeback, according to  Yet, neither team tallied to their score in the fourth quarter, leaving the Tigers victorious at the end of the match, 44-16. 

Mr. Dabo Swinney celebrating Clemson’s CFP victory with cornerback Travon Mullen. Courtesy of 

The momentum shifted when Clemson extended their lead to a double-digit score, according to The New York Times.  Despite their number one ranking in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I football, Alabama was not victorious, which Clemson head coach Mr. Dabo Swinney hopes will inspire other collegiate football teams to work hard. 

“If I can do it, if these Clemson Tigers can do it, anybody can do it, if you have a belief in yourself and what you’re doing and you surround yourself with a bunch of great young people that are passionate about winning,” Mr. Swinney said, according to “And tonight, we conquered a mountain that ain’t never been conquered.”

Sacred Heart Greenwich junior Arielle Uygur’s cousin Ms. Maggie Gelwix is from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and graduated from the University of Alabama.  Although Ms. Gelwix favored Alabama to win the game, she was not upset by the loss and felt that the game was not representative of Alabama’s otherwise successful 2018-19 season.

“We deserved to lose but that’s okay,” Ms. Gelwix said. “I wouldn’t want to lose to any other team. They are a good team, and even though we had a strong season, they outplayed us Monday.”

Featured Image by Sydney Gallop ’20