It’s always tough for sequels to live up to the original and in the case of Alabama and Clemson’s College Football Playoff National Championship Game rematch, two dominant defenses are helping ensure we won’t be seeing a repeat of the shootout from last season.
Whether it was Butkus Award winner Reuben Foster for the Tide or Tigers defensive lineman Carlos Watkins, the two units were fast, physical and all over the field in a way that may have reminded many at Raymond James Stadium of the NFL teams that normally occupy the same space.
There would be no shutout however and despite some opening jitters with new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, the Alabama offense got on track during their second drive to find the end zone behind the running of tailback Bo Scarbrough. He took a stretch play off the left side 25 yards to the end zone for the game’s first points, plowing through a few Tigers defenders and carrying a few more with him across the goal line.
As a result, Clemson trailed after the first quarter for the first time all season.
Scarbrough’s night was only just getting started however. The mammoth runner scored again in the second quarter by hitting the edge and turning up the sideline for a 37 yard touchdown run that delighted the vocal — but outnumbered — Alabama fans who were in attendance. He ended up with 76 yards and the two scores before heading to the locker room at halftime.
Deshaun Watson and company would find the scoreboard themselves not long after to finally get into the game. The quarterback marched the Tigers down the field, capping an 87 yard drive over seven plays with an eight yard keeper that he snuck in just before the pylon. That ignited the Clemson faithful on hand and certainly injected a little bit more life in a game that Alabama was threatening to run away with.
It should make for a fascinating second half slugfest. Will the Crimson Tide’s dynasty roll on with a fifth tile in eight seasons, or will there be a new king of college football at the end of the night?