Today we take a trip back a couple of years to 2016 and Dabo Swinney’s first national title as a head coach, and Clemson’s first one since Danny Ford’s 1981 Tigers took down Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.
Clemson avenged their loss to Alabama in the title game a year earlier by knocking off the Tide 35–31. The Tigers had to come back after giving Alabama a 14–0 advantage early on. Quarterback Deshaun Watson and this Clemson would not be denied and scored the game winning touchdown with one second left in the game.
Watson was surrounded by talented receivers, the likes of which helped the Tiger’s superstar quarterback set the record for most passing yards in a championship game for the second straight season, with 420. Even more impressive was the fact that it was done against the nation’s #1 ranked defense, and a defense that was touted as the best ever.
When it was over Watson and the Tigers had dethroned the defending champion Crimson Tide, the sports premier team. It was the Alabama dynasty’s first loss in a national title game under Nick Saban. The win snapped Alabama’s 26 game winning streak and was the Clemson programs first win over a number one ranked team.
Deshaun Watson wound up winning the Offensive Most Valuable Player Award while Tigers linebacker Ben Boulware earned the game’s Defensive Most Valuable Player Award. Boulware’s quote still excites many Clemson fans when it’s played.
“It’s been 35 long years! It’s coming home baby! It’s coming home!”
The Tigers did on this night exactly what Deshaun Watson suggested they do to begin that game winning drive. They went out and became legendary.