Alabama vs. Clemson: College Football Playoff National Championship Stream of Consciousness Game Thoughts

Alabama vs. Clemson: College Football Playoff National Championship Stream of Consciousness Game Thoughts


Alabama vs. Clemson: College Football Playoff National Championship Stream of Consciousness Game Thoughts


Alabama vs. Clemson: College Football Playoff National Championship Stream of Consciousness Game Thoughts

Random on the fly thoughts, notes and stream of consciousness musings from the College Football Playoff National Championship – Alabama vs. Clemson.

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Both teams showed up. There are a lot of people here in Raymond James Stadium. They’re showing it on TV. So we might as well do this thing.

think Alabama is going to win your 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship.

Last year, I knew Alabama was going to win your 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship – just like I knew Ohio State would beat Oregon in the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship.

But this time around, I’m wavering in my belief system, mainly because Clemson is really just that good.

If there was ever going to be a team that could beat a 14-0 Nick Saban powerhouse of an Alabama team, 2016 Clemson is it. But with that said, I just can’t pick against Alabama in a national title game, especially one this good.

I’m thinking it’s going to be a good, tough, defensive game, but I’m hoping for Glendale II.

Throughout the game, I’ll be updating this from the field. I’m doing in-stadium pregame and halftime stuff/analysis for the College Football Playoff – you can watch it on the College Football Playoff Facebook page, and hopefully I won’t suck.

I’ll apologize in advance if this is a little more streamy and consciousnessy than usual – I’ll be trying to update on the sidelines, where you can see next to nothing and won’t have access to the game broadcast.

Alabama 26, Clemson 17 … let’s rock.

First Quarter

After three plays, this Steve Sarkisian thing isn’t working.

Best moment of the early part of the game. Standing next to SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey – they asked to see his credentials.

Here’s the early key for the Clemson offense – pace. It’s not letting Bama D set up.

Alabama does …. not … miss on open field tackles.

Who runs wide on the Alabama defense on 4th-and-1? Seriously, Clemson. Be better than that.

Commissioner Sankey cheering wildly just like any other SEC meatball – it’s totally awesome.

Bo Scarborough, ladies and gentlemen. Alabama ain’t no Ohio State.


Clemson giving Alabama way too many breaks with penalties.

Seriously, Clemson – again. You really think you’re running wide on this linebacking corps?

TARGETING!!! How did the officials miss Mike Williams TOTALLY getting blasted helmet-to-helmet?! The Bama people I’m next to can’t believe they got away with it.

And that’s the problem with a quick-pace O. If it doesn’t work, it’s off the field fast.

Mr. Sarkisian realizes that Mr. Scarborough needs the ball.

Compared to Clemson, Alabama going SLOWWWW. Tide will win time of possession by a ton.

3rd-and-10 and Bama runs Damien Harris for 12? Uh-oh.

It’s just the first quarter, and Clemson’s D line already looks worn down.

Jalen Hurts can’t throw over the Tiger D line …

And Clemson getting to Alabama punting game, too.

Okay, Tigers. Let’s get this going. You’re on your own 37, your D stepped up, now get Deshaun Watson into a groove.

Ughhhhhh. Clemson, NOOOO. At least Alabama didn’t get a non-offensive touchdown off the turnover.

Alabama, this is where you all but take this game down, and it’s just the first quarter. Bama has the ball on the Clemson 35.

But the Clemson D and Carlos Watkins have other ideas.

Okay … Jalen Hurts and the passing game apparently won’t be making an appearance this evening.

I hate keys to the game, but I do them. Keeping Clemson pinned deep – big, big key. Bama downs the Tigers on the one.

Second Quarter

Finally, the Clemson offensive line is starting to rumble – and at the exact right time.

The Tigers got away from the downfield passing game for now and just got physical. It was enough to get them out of a jam.

And then the Bama secondary showed up. There’s NO separation.

Ball game? Obviously not, but neither team can throw, Alabama can run. Scarbrough rolls for a score, Sark calling a terrific game.

Scarbrough almost killed me on that TD run.


Feeling a NOT …

Uh oh … Watson is missing. He has nowhere to go, but he’s missing.

Clemson is winning the time of possession battle, for whatever that’s worth.

Hurts really, really can’t throw over the Tiger D line.

Clemson on its own 13 … uh oh.

Watson and Deon Cain FINALLY get something going. C’mon, Deshaun … find it. He’s just not on.

He’s getting more than enough time, but …

THERE WE GO. Watson fires to Jordan Leggett, and now he’s on … TOUCHDOWN. Watson showed up.

And here we go …


Okay, Alabama … six minutes left. Answer this, and grind out the clock.

Alabama O line killing the Clemson interior.

Nope. You can’t run wide on either of these defenses. Hurts gets dropped for a loss on 3rd-and-9.

Okay, Clemson.  4:24 left, 80 yards to go. More quick-hitters, get Watson throwing in a rhythm, show Bama that you really can throw, and it can’t.

At some point, Hurts has to hit a real, live downfield pass, or Bama is in huge trouble. Clemson teeing off on the third down runs.

Getting COLD. It’s relative, but it’s really not warm.

J.K. Scott, MVP.

Reuben Foster has been a one-man wrecking crew -7 tackles so far.

Watson with an out throw for the NFL scouts. Hurts can’t make that throw right now.

I know everyone wanted a shootout, and it might be, but the two defenses are just too good. It’s a better game than social media is probably giving it credit for.

FIRST HALF: Alabama 14, Clemson 7

Sticking with my predicted final. Bama 26-17.

Third Quarter

Clemson … get marching. Take over this game in the second half. Show that you brought more to this than …

Ohhhhhh, Clemson, NOOOOOO. It wasn’t a NOT – non-offensive touchdown – but it might has well have been. Fumble, ball deep in Clemson territory, and Bama will get points out of this somehow.

O.J. Howard, it’s time to make an appearance.

Hurts still can’t throw. He’s now 8-of-18 for 49 yards, can’t move the ball off the drive – but he did hit Howard with a nine-yard pass – Adam Griffith field goal. Clemson survived, but that was a bad three-point fumble early in the second half.


Watson is starting to hit his throws, but there’s still a long, long way to go. There’s nothing happening deep, but the dinking and dunking is working.

Alabama isn’t generating any pressure. Watson getting the ball out of his hands too quickly.

That is very much not a catch by Hunter Renfrow on a key 3rd-and-1. Watson normally hits that throw with his eyes closed.

There was an somewhat unprofessional and disappointing groan from the press box – I got way too cold on the field – after the Watson pooch kick. But finally, Clemson has flipped the field.

Hurts seems like he’s just this close to throwing a pick six.

Obviously, the Sarkisian gameplan this week is for Hurts to never, ever, ever throw a pass he’s not 100% sure of.

And there you go, Clemson. A J.K. Scott whiff of a punt – 30 yards – means this is time to get back in the game.

NO … that pass to Deon Cain wasn’t complete, either. Hurry it up, after that 14-yard play, Clemson.

Again, Watson just isn’t on. He’s not connecting in places where his receivers can do something with the ball. He’s 18-of-30 for 204 yards.

Clemson is averaging just two yards per carry.

Yeah, about that not hitting his receivers where they can do something thing? Whatever. Watson hits Hunter Renfro for a 24-yard touchdown on a perfectly executed pick play.

Alabama is in big, big, big trouble if Hurts can’t start completing more forward passes in meaningful spots.


Okay, Sarkisian. Time to start doing some of that offensive coordinator thing.

Okay, okay … I see what you’re doing. At least Sark let Hurts come up with a deep ball on third down. Hurts missed an open ArDarius Stewart, but at least it was a downfield pass.

And now it’s 3rd-and-10. Clemson’s defense is playing well, but at the moment, the Alabama offense is very, very limited.

Hurts hit Gehrig Dieter in the hands for what could’ve and should’ve been a first down, but Dieter couldn’t come up with the play. The Bama receivers have to start helping the cause.

Reuben Foster is on everything with ten tackles, but Clemson’s offense is being far, far more creative.

Unfortunately for Alabama, it’ll take another score to come up with an onside kick to turn the momentum this year.

Watson with the highlight reel helicopter blasting from the Bama D. He deserved a first down on that 3rd-and-15 run, but came up a yard short.

I fired down a hot dog, four gourmet frosted mini-donuts, a big plate of mac and cheese, and two chicken breasts in the last six minutes. I’m apologizing in advance to Pat Forde for barfing on him in the pressbox.

Enough of this. Alabama’s offense will be running play, running play, running play …

Unless Bo Scarbrough gets hurt. Then it’s Jalen Hurts throwing the ball. And then America gets sad.

Really, Clemson? You didn’t think to cover that O.J. Howard guy?

I like the Sarkisian offense. Throw the ball to an open Howard, laugh, kickoff.


Mike Williams just had a few very bad things done to him by Marlon Humphrey. At least Clemson came out firing.

Clemson has completely given up on the running game.

Saban is going to have an accident on the sidelines. The Clemson receivers are getting free in space way too easily.

The Tiger receivers are taking over.

Okay, Alabama defense. Clemson might be marching and might be on the eight, but you have a ten-point lead going into the fourth. If you’re really the Alabama defense, this should be over.

Fourth Quarter

3rd-and-goal from the 4, TD pass to Mike Williams for a touchdown. If everyone in the pressbox from 250 yards away can see the pick, it’s probably a pick.

Clemson just won’t go away. It’s hanging around, hanging around, hanging around.

Watson has now thrown for 294 yards and two scores with a rushing score. This isn’t Glendale, but in a different sort of way, he’s doing it again.


Huh?! Strange kickoff by Clemson giving the ball to Alabama on the 31.

Alabama’s defense needs time off. The O needs to march.

BTW, this is a sweet camera angle by ESPN. It’s a great look just a smidge closer to the field.

Seriously, would it kill the CFP to provide a roaming masseuse for us in the pressbox?

Hello, ramped up Alabama defense. The pass rush has decided to make an appearance in an attempt to kill Mr. Watson.

Tim Williams has tried a spin move about 97 times in a row, with no luck.

Alabama D with a three-and-out? It might be overlooked, but with 11:03 in the game, and with the ball on the Clemson 21, that might turn out to be the turning point if Alabama wins this.

Tonight’s attendance: 74,512. A Raymond James Stadium record. Thank you for your patronage, and pick up after yourself. of Tampa, at least four hours of my life will be devoted on a treadmill now because of your pressbox presence.

Just when Alabama could’ve put a serious chokehold on the game … three and out.

Jalen Hurts: 11-of-26, 122 yards, one touchdown. 68 of those yards on that one pass to Howard.

Okay, Clemson. Down three, on your own 22. 8:49 to go. Deshaun, be the best player in college football.

Clemson takes a timeout on 3rd-and-7. Alabama defense to send Clemson a basket of mini-muffins as a Thank You.

Ooooof. That’s a lovely spot on a 3rd-and-7 pass that went 6.9 yards and was called a first down.

Mike Williams politely mauled, and on the next play, Watson survives a near-disaster to come up with a near-all-timer. Watson is doing everything to keep Clemson alive …

And Jordan Leggett doesn’t help him out with a dropped pass that goes off his hands.

Somewhere in Raymond James Stadium, Peyton Manning is dying just a little inside watching every Hurts pass not to Howard.

This is starting to feel very overtimey.

Mike Williams with a brilliant, I’m-the-No. 1-WR-on-the-board-and-you’re-not catch. Alabama 15-yard penalty. This isn’t going well for the Crimson Tide.

There’s absolutely nothing about the Alabama offense right now that suggests it can come back to win this after Clemson scores.

That was about as cathartic a roar as you’ll ever hear. The Clemson fans now have their national championship right there for the taking.


The pressbox is literally rocking.

There’s still almost five minutes remaining. Alabama, why are you putting the game on the Hurts’ passing game?

Ben Boulware and the Clemson defensive front are three steps ahead of everything Alabama is doing.

A 4th-and-1 run for the first down, a double pass to get the O moving? Steve Sarkisian writes the check, Hurts’ running cashes it.

After all the problems, and after all the issues. Alabama just went 68 yards in just over two minutes, and Hurts might have just come up with a national championship run.


2:07 to go. Watson has two timeouts and the ball on the 31.

Mike Williams is making himself a whole lot of money tonight.

If ever the term RPO applied, that’s coming on the 3rd-and-4 …

Watson to Renfro for a first down. 22 seconds left.

This doesn’t suck.

Alabama brought the house, but Watson and Leggett were too good. 17-yard completion, 1st-and-goal on the nine. 14 seconds to play.

WOW … 1st-and-goal on the 2, six seconds to play?! For the national title? Really?!


Deshaun Watson: 36-of-56, 420 yards, 3 TD, 43 rushing yards, one TD, one national title.

Watson did it. Absolutely fricking amazing.


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