When Clemson beat Alabama Monday night 35-31 it was way more than a National Championship football game. As one reporter put it: It was about a team pulling together to slay football’s “scariest dragon.” In doing so, Clemson made history in the best way possible and sent the sports world (and Twitter) into a frenzy of love and admiration.
Here’s what they were saying around the country:
“In the days before Monday night’s classic national championship, Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney was asked over and over a question that has become familiar in college football: How do you beat Alabama? “How do you eat an elephant?” he said. “One bite at a time.” Alabama was the sport’s biggest, fattest, most inedible elephant. And yet Clemson took bite after bite until, on the final play of the fourth quarter, it became the first school all season to devour college football’s No. 1-ranked team.”
From the LA Times
“A roller-coaster ride. A sleepy first half that exploded into a fourth-quarter frenzy.”
From Sports Illustrated
“The play is known in the Clemson playbook as Orange Crush, and it will have varied legacies depending on which campus it’s being discussed. In Alabama, it will be remembered as a divisive dream crusher, ending the Crimson Tide’s 26-game win streak, preventing them from winning back-to-back national titles and ending their run at an unprecedented five championships in eight years. “It's like a death in the family,” Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans said.”
“In a game for the ages, against an opponent as vaunted as any before it, Clemson elevated itself to the most rarefied of positions Monday night in the national title game: to a spot not just among fellow national champions but, more remarkable, among the elite of the elite....They say to be the man you gotta beat the man. Well, Clemson did just that...and, in doing so, branded itself among the new elite in college football.”
“This was exactly what Deshaun Watson wanted. Not the Heisman Trophy or any other award subject to debate. He wanted the title that is beyond dispute, one that would elevate Clemson from contender to champion. He wanted to be legendary. Oh, is he ever. Watson proved he was the best quarterback — make that the best player, period — in college football, leading Clemson to its first national title since 1981 in a game for the ages.”
From New York Times
“How did the Tigers do it? With an indefatigable quarterback and the most thrilling of game-winning touchdown passes; with a host of slinky, stretchy wide receivers and an unbending will; with a goal-line leap from a bull of a running back; and with Swinney in the middle of it all, screaming and shouting and cajoling and inspiring...Over the past six seasons, only one program had won more games than Clemson, and it was Alabama, which also defeated Clemson in last year’s national championship game. Swinney and his players were determined to seize their second chance at glory. They did, and in a finish that was frenzied and frenetic.”
“Alabama's defense was so much better and so much more suited to face Deshaun Watson. Yes, Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts was a freshman, but he had enough horsepower around him to outrun Clemson. For most of the game, all of that was coming to fruition. Until the fourth quarter. That, folks, is when championships are won and lost... A fantastic end to a fantastic game has given the college football world a new true king. Mighty Alabama was dethroned by having its superb defense vanquished against the very team it sought to "dominate," as cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick proudly stated earlier this week.
“Nobody’s unbeatable, but Alabama had come to feel that way. The Tide entered on a 26-game winning streak. They’d only come close to defeat once this year, in a 48-43 win against Ole Miss in September...Odds makers have already decided the Tide are the early favorites to win this trophy next year, which would make five in nine years...But Monday wasn’t about the future. It was about right now...It was about an ultra-talented team that pulled together and figured out how to slay the sport’s scariest dragon, on the grandest stage of all of them.”