O.J. Howard

Rematch revenge! Clemson knocks off Alabama to win the 2017 National Championship Game

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In order to be the champions, you had to beat the champions. Mission accomplished for Clemson.

A historic rematch for the ages lived up to the hype thanks to a wild and career-defining fourth quarter that saw the Tigers win the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game in dramatic fashion 35-31 over Alabama.

The two defenses dominated the game early and often as many predicted given the number of stars on that side of the ball. Neither team found much success on third down (just nine combined conversions) and the passing game was inconsistent for both teams outside of a few big plays.

The Crimson Tide jumped out to an early lead behind the strong running of tailback Bo Scarbrough, who continued to abuse opponents with his punishing running style. He found the end zone early in the first quarter by scampering off to the left side of his big offensive line and finding pay dirt after 25 yards for the game’s first points. His second touchdown was even better than the first, using a few key blocks from his tight end and left tackle to hit the edge and scamper 37 yards for the score, running over a few defenders and carrying a few more on his back into the end zone.

Unfortunately the sophomore was injured in the third quarter with a leg injury, putting all the pressure on young quarterback Jalen Hurts. While he never looked too much like a true freshman, passing the ball was a struggle most of the night until he found a wide-open O.J. Howard for a 68-yard touchdown that had plenty thinking back to last year’s title game where he had a career outing.

That wasn’t enough to contain a determined Deshaun Watson in the final quarter however, as the signal-caller marched his team 88 yards in just six plays before leaping into the end zone for the first Clemson lead of the ball game with just under five minutes left. It was a vintage performance from the college superstar (who finished 36-of-56 for 420 yards and three touchdowns), which included several key hookups with receiver Mike Williams and a few key runs that moved the chains.

The Tide didn’t seem phased however, answering right back in a wild sequence of events. They broke out of their offensive malaise with a surprising trick play that found Howard for a big gain once again to enter Clemson territory. That’s when Hurts finally used his legs to find the end zone, scampering 30 yards to the goal line as he weaved and ducked out of numerous tackles.

Watson wasn’t done yet though, and saved his best for last with the game and his legacy on the line.

Facing a defense that was operating at a historic level coming into the game, Watson sliced and diced the Tide for a nine play, 68 yard march toward the end zone. With a make or break play coming up, the game’s offensive MVP dropped back and smoothly found ever reliable target Hunter Renfrow wide open in the end zone with just one second left.

That set off a wild celebration among the Clemson faithful as the school celebrated its second national title — and first since 1981 — in the sweetest of fashions. It was a game for the ages given the ending and tense final moments but will no doubt be remembered for an incredible drive that culminated in a championship for Dabo Swinney and the Tigers.

VIDEO: Bo Scarbrough injured and O.J. Howard strikes again!

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Things have been happening pretty quickly in the third quarter of the College Football Playoff national championship game. Right after Clemson lost redshirt freshman defensive end Clelin Ferrell to an apparent ankle injury, Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough was helped off the field and later taken into the locker room for medical treatment. His condition is unknown at this time.

Scarbrough had two long touchdown runs in the game and led all players with 93 rushing yards.

There was some happier news for Alabama later on the drive though as they were able to roll out a play they must have been waiting all night for. Similar to last year, it was tight end O.J. Howard finding himself in open space with plenty of room to run on a long touchdown run.

That had to send shivers down the backs of Clemson fans after last year’s game. Howard’s touchdown put Alabama up 24-14.

Alabama leads Clemson with just one quarter left in the national title game

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All good things must come to an end and there is just one more quarter of college football left this season. Judging by the way the College Football Playoff National Championship Game has gone for three quarters, the end of this season is looking like it will be wrapping up the same way the last did too.

Alabama continued to control the game on both sides of the ball, grinding their way to a 24-14 lead entering the fourth quarter after a few big plays for both teams highlighted the effort coming out of halftime.

The Tide could have had a more comfortable margin had they capitalized on yet another costly Clemson turnover after tailback Wayne Gallman fumbled on the Tigers’ opening drive of the second half, which setup Alabama in red zone. The offense stagnated however, and was held to a field goal to extend their lead to double digits.

After exchanging punts later in the quarter, Clemson finally showed some life for the first time in the second half on one of the rare times they began with good field position. Following a clutch play from Watson and Deon Cain to move the offense down the field, the quarterback found reliable receiver Hunter Renfrow across the middle for a 24 yard touchdown that narrowed things on the scoreboard and seemed to ignite the Clemson faithful who made the trip down to Tampa.

Alabama never seemed to panic despite the momentum shifting a bit and tailback Bo Scarbrough (team-high 93 yards, two scores) limp off with a leg injury of unknown severity. That’s because quarterback Jalen Hurts finally was able to do something with his arm, launching a deep pass to a wide-open O.J. Howard for a 68 yard touchdown that evoked plenty of memories from last season’s game.

There’s still plenty of time for the Tigers to get back into this one with the offense in the red zone entering the fourth but, with just one quarter left in the national title game, the Crimson Tide dynasty is looking well on their way to picking up another ring for head coach Nick Saban.

VIDEO: Bo Scarbrough makes a man miss to put Alabama on the board

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The first touchdown of the evening in the College Football Playoff national championship game was a thing of beauty from Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough.

Scarbrough took off for a 25-yard touchdown run in the first quarter to give Alabama a 7-0 lead following the extra-point attempt. Not only did he get some good blocking from last year’s championship game surprise hero O.J. Howard, but he also showed off a nice little ability to stop on a dime to make a defender look a little silly.

Peach Bowl First Quarter Recap: Washington strikes first, Alabama answers with authority

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The Pac-12 champion Washington Huskies may had a few butterflies at the start of the game with a poor kickoff return from John Ross and a quick three-and-out, but the Huskies struck first in the first quarter of a College Football Playoff semifinal matchup against SEC champion Alabama in the Peach Bowl. Jake Browning delivered a beautiful pass to Dante Pettis to cap the second offensive series of the game for Washington.

The touchdown pass from Browning was his 43rd of the season, setting a new Pac-12 record for most touchdown passes in a single season, breaking the previous record set by former Cal quarterback Jared Goff in 2015.

The Crimson Tide would respond on the ensuing possession by flexing some muscle up front. Damien Harris, Bo Scarbrough and Jalen Hurts all picked up yards on the ground for Alabama, with a key 16-yard gain by O.J. Howard through the air along the way before Scarbrough powered his way across the goal line to score a touchdown on the next drive.

Washington looked to be putting together a decent response of their own on the next drive, but a short pass to Ross was lost by the talented wideout and picked up by Alabama’s Jonathan Allen on Washington’s side of the field. Alabama holds the football at the start of the second quarter as a result.

One key position to keep an eye on as the game plays on will be Washington right tackle, true freshman Nick Harris. Harris has earned a starting role on the Washington offensive line as the season has gone alone, bu he has been given a massive test today against one of the best defensive front sin the nation today. There have already been a few rough moments on the edge.