Sean Pendergast

CFB Playoff National Title Game: Clemson 44, Alabama 16 — 4 Winners, 4 Losers

Clemson took Alabama to the woodshed last night.
Clemson took Alabama to the woodshed last night. Screen grab from YouTube
Throughout the 2018 college football season, the pattern in Alabama games was fairly repetitive — Alabama quarterback Tu'a Tagovailoa would play the first three quarters of the game, and then sit out the final quarter because the game was well in hand.

Well, on Monday night, that happened again. Tu'a sat the whole fourth quarter because the game was well in hand. Only this time, it was the opposition, the Clemson Tigers, in full control, on their way to a 44-16 blowout win, securing their second national championship at the expense of Alabama in three seasons.

Tu'a sat the fourth quarter because, at that point, there was no way he was bringing the Tide back, and ultimately, Clemson would close the game out with a drive that was so metaphorically appropriate, a drive of over ten minutes that began on their own one yard line and still hadn't crossed the Alabama goal line when the clock ticked down to 0:00.

Clemson becomes the first ever 15-0 team in FBS  history, and their head coach Dabo Swinney enters the elite company of multiple national championship winners. With a true freshman, Trevor Lawrence, at quarterback, the Tigers will likely be back again, and maybe, just maybe, the baton of "best perennial program" belongs to someone other than Alabama. For now.

Let's do some quick winners and losers from last night festivities...


4. Justyn Ross
DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, Mike Williams — those are a few of the Clemson wide receivers that have gone onto great success at the next level. Clemson is basically "Wide Receiver U," and the position is in incredible hands (no pun intended) with sophomore Tee Higgins (3 catches, 83 yards) and the uber dynamic Ross, the freshman who led the Tigers with 153 yards receiving, including this ridiculous circus catch in the second half...

3. Bargain shoppers
Last year, the College Football Playoff national title game tickets were going for $1,700, at a minimum. Of course, that was largely because the two teams participating were SEC kingpins Alabama and Georgia, and the game was in the de facto SEC capital of Atlanta, Georgia. Conversely, this game was being played in Santa Clara, CA, a region that has as much interest in college football as Alaska. Thus, tickets for this game were reportedly going for as low as $125. Hopefully, you bucket listers were able to taken advantage of the one season where title game tickets were priced like minor league hockey games, because the game is back in New Orleans next season, and likely back to four digit prices again.

2. Trevor Lawrence's beautiful head of hair
20 of 32 , 347 yards, three touchdown passes... yeah, that's all real nice and good. And sure, he's now got a ring. But look at that head of hair, man!
Life just isn't fair.

1. Dabo Swinney
He doesn't even need to recruit anymore, because his guys do it for him!


4. Fake field goals
Lou Holtz, the former Notre Dame national championship head coach, used to have a saying — don't be the first team to flinch. Flinching isn't exactly the easiest thing to define, but you just know it when you see it, and sure enough, trailing 31-16 in the third quarter and really needing a fourth down conversion more than a field goal, Saban resorted to this abortion of a play call....

3. This protester
We interrupt this game recap to show some woman being dragged off the field because she was protesting chickens being killed for us to eat, or something like that.... enjoy!
2. Jason Witten
So ESPN replaced their coaches feed, in which several college head coaches would watch the game and we would all listen in, with a feed where their Monday Night Football crew was watching the game, which is a little like replacing ice cream with horse manure. I mean, Jason Witten doesn't even know the college rules....
1. Mike Locksley
The Alabama offensive coordinator is on his way to Maryland to take the head coaching job for the Terrapins. However, if his play calling in the national title game means anything, perhaps Maryland will fire him before he even gets on the plane to head east. The Alabama play calling all night made no sense. There were multiple times in the game where the Tide had third down and were going to go for it on fourth down, and Lcoksley was calling third down pass plays. On a fourth down call in goal-to-go, he called for hobbled Tu'a to run wide against Clemson's ferocious and athletic defensive line. Locksley was awful all night, and I'm guessing Alabama fans will happily drive him to the airport to make sure he leaves.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at and like him on Facebook at
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast