It’s Clemson, emphatically. Tigers roll over Tide in national championship

The Clemson defense celebrates after stopping Alabama during the second half of the NCAA college football playoff championship game, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
The Clemson defense celebrates after stopping Alabama during the second half of the NCAA college football playoff championship game, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson) AP

Well, who expected this?

All season long, Clemson and Alabama have been the two best teams in college football, but the general thinking was that the Crimson Tide was on a different level from their peers, even from Dabo Swinney’s bunch in the state of South Carolina.

But in a heavily-anticipated national championship game Monday night in California, Clemson dominated Alabama like very few teams ever have.

Let this final score sink in: Clemson 44, Alabama 16.

“We have seen Alabama bully people for a decade,” ESPN play-by-play man Chris Fowler said. “I’m sensing a little capitulation from the Tide.”

And Fowler was right.

The game was essentially over in the middle of the third quarter. ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit compared it to Buster Douglas beating Mike Tyson.

It was such a dominant team performance that it would be hard to pick just one hero for Clemson (15-0), which now has two national titles in three seasons:

Freshman QB Trevor Lawrence, who is now the favorite for the No. 1 NFL draft pick in 2021, looked calm and collected facing Alabama’s fearsome defense. Lawrence completed 20-of-32 passes for 347 yards and two scores.

Freshman wide receiver Justyn Ross, a 6-foot-4 speedster that Swinney snatched out of the state of Alabama, made several impressive catches, stunning the favored team from his home state. Ross had six catches for 153 yards and a score.

Clemson’s defense was bending often but didn’t break, stopping Alabama on fourth down fake field goals and fourth down QB sneaks. All-American Christian Wilkins played inspired football and Albert Huggins and Tre Lamar made big tackle after big tackle.

Alabama, which was averaging nearly 48 points per game, scored three after the first quarter.

And now some reaction:

The Drake curse is a thing?

It may not be in your best interest if popular rapper Drake starts to back your team. He was with Conor McGregor for his last UFC fight. That didn’t go too well. Since he started rocking with the Kentucky Wildcats, Big Blue just hasn’t been the one-and-done same.

So Monday, Drake decided he was with the Crimson Tide. He wore a ‘Bama hoodie.

Local product makes big play for Clemson

With Alabama driving to start the third quarter, former Hough High star Mark Fields made a huge play on third and 6 to deflect an Alabama pass. Down 31-16, Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban tried a fake field goal, which failed.

Huge stop for Dabo Swinney’s team; huge play for the Charlotte product. And Fields let Tide fans know about it after his big play.

And to emphasize how big Fields’ play was, a few plays later, Clemson got a 74-yard TD pass and a 37-16 lead. It was the Tigers’ 23rd straight point.

Crazy Fast First Quarter

David J. Phillip AP

Even if you were tired of Alabama-Clemson -- teams that played for the national title for the third time in five years -- it was still hard to not enjoy the start of Monday’s national championship game.

Two long passes, for both teams; a pick 6; and nearly a game’s worth of points (27 combined) in the first 15 minutes.

There was also a pretty wicked battle between two future NFL draft picks -- Clemson defensive tackle Clelin Ferrell and Alabama left tackle Jonah Williams.

And of course, the trolling ‘Bama tweets

College football Twitter kind of enjoyed poking fun at the bear Monday as Alabama was unable to turn the tide against Clemson.

And before we share, remember next year’s Tide team may be it’s best ever.

Well, halftime wasn’t crazy

The halftime performance from Lil’ Wayne and Imagine Dragons didn’t seem to excite the crowd at the stadium and it sounded a little, well, rough, on TV.

Twitter didn’t miss it -- or Lil’ Wayne’s eclectic outfit.

Protestor tries to interrupt Monday’s big game

Moments after Clemson got an early touchdown against Alabama in the first quarter of the national championship game, a protestor had to be removed from the field.

A teen activist was taken into custody while carrying a sign to protest exploitation of animals.

Clemson’s A.J. Terrell intercepted Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa on the Crimson Tide’s third play from scrimmage and returned it for a score. Shortly after the play, the protestor somehow got onto the field. Initially, according to social media reports, on-field security didn’t notice her.

She was eventually carried away.

ESPN reporter Marty Smith got video of her being taken away.

For some streaming viewers, watching Monday’s game was a dud

Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence throws during the first half of the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Alabama, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, in Santa Clara, Calif. Jeff Chiu AP Photo

Buoyed by the thought of cutting their cable bills, more and more U.S. customers are ditching satellite and cable for streaming TV options, basically watching TV over the internet.

Often, they switch to providers like DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue or Sling TV, services that offer a package of channels similar to cable but at a cheaper cost. Users simply add an app to their compatible televisions or streaming boxes (Apple TV, Firestick, etc) and, viola’, there is cheaper TV. The average cable TV bill is more than $100. It’s easy to have a streaming bill that is at least half of that.

But at times when most of the country is watching the same thing, like Monday’s Alabama-Clemson game, the streaming company’s servers can get badly overloaded.

It happened last year during the Alabama-Clemson semifinal and it was happening again during the teams’ national final Monday night. Many viewers, in the Caroinas and nationwide, were faced with blocky pictures, stuttering video or simply no picture at all.

Some users couldn’t even get the guide to come on their screen to switch to the game. There were also many reports of the Watch ESPN standalone app facing similar issues. But the problems seemed worse, based on social media reports we saw, on DirecTV Now than the other services.

DirecTV is the second most popular streaming service with 1.4 million subscribers behind Sling TV which has more than two million.

Langston Wertz Jr. is an award-winning sports journalist who has worked at the Observer since 1988. He’s covered everything from Final Fours and NFL to video games and Britney Spears. Wertz -- a West Charlotte High and UNC grad -- is the rare person who can answer “Charlotte,” when you ask, “What city are you from.”
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