For the second consecutive season the Clemson Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide will meet in the College Football Playoff title game, with the Tigers boasting a 13-1 record and Alabama entering the game with a 14-0 record. While multiple things have changed for both teams since last season’s meeting, a 45-40 Alabama victory, what hasn’t changed is Clemson’s starting quarterback.
Junior Deshaun Watson, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound quarterback from Gainesville, Georgia who has already graduated and will enter the 2017 NFL Draft, once again leads the way for Clemson. This season he’s thrown for 4,173 yards and 38 touchdowns, completing 67.3 percent of his passes, while also rushing for 583 yards and eight touchdowns. For his efforts, Watson finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Watson performed well against Alabama in last season’s title game, with the only thing missing being a victory.
Watson threw for 405 yards and four touchdowns on January 11, 2016, completing 30 of his 47 pass attempts with just one interception. Watson also rushed for 73 yards on 20 attempts, and he was sacked twice on the night (both times by Rashaan Evans).
Watson threw two touchdown passes, both to receiver Hunter Renfrow, in the first quarter to give Clemson a 14-7 lead after 15 minutes of play. Watson would go on to throw two more touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, with Artavis Scott and Jordan Leggett being the recipients. In the fourth quarter of last year’s title game the two teams combined to score 40 points, with Alabama outscoring Clemson 24-16 as they won their program’s 16th national title.