The dream of repeating as national champions came to a screeching halt in Santa Clara, California on Monday night for Alabama.
Clemson routed Alabama 44-16 in the College Football Playoff National Championship from Levi’s Stadium.
Clemson handed Alabama their lone loss and finishes the season as the first 15-0 national champion in the history of college football.
The Clemson defense tallied two interceptions, one of which was a pick-six by sophomore A.J. Terrell on Alabama’s first possession of the game.
This was the fourth straight matchup between Alabama and Clemson in the College Football Playoff and third time squaring off for the title.
On Jan. 11, 2016, Alabama defeated Clemson 45-40 in the national title game. Clemson got revenge on Jan. 9, 2017 by beating Alabama 35-31 to claim their first national title since 1981.
Last season on Jan. 1, 2018, Alabama knocked off Clemson 24-6 in the CFP semifinals en route to winning the national title.
Dating back to the beginning of the 2015 season, Alabama and Clemson sport identical records of 55-4.
Clemson entered the showdown with something to prove and exited leaving no doubt who the best team in the nation was.
“I mean, our guys had the eye of the tiger, but I’m so proud, and then for our seniors to be able to go out 15-0 and truly be the best ever — there was a lot of talk about best ever all year long,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said of Alabama according to ESPN. “We were never in that conversation. But tonight, there’s no doubt. First 15-0 team, to beat Notre Dame and to beat Alabama to do it, this team won 13 games by 20 points or more and led by an unbelievable group of seniors, amazing group. I’m just thankful to be a part of it.”
This marks the first time Nick Saban has lost by 14 points or more since taking over at Alabama in 2007.
Here’s a sampling of how Alabama reacted to the difficult defeat, as transcribed by AL.com:
Tides go through phases. Some high, and some low. But both high and low share one trait…they continue. There is inevitability to the Tide. Each wave carries with it a certainty: It will regroup, it will grow stronger…and it will ALWAYS return.#OutworkYesterday#RollTide pic.twitter.com/e5mEYamh7U
— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) January 8, 2019
Head coach Nick Saban:
“Well, obviously we’re all very, very disappointed, but I’d like to say that I’m very, very proud of what our team was able to accomplish this year, to win 14 games, win the SEC, win the Orange Bowl, have an opportunity to play for the national championship. Really proud of our players. Really proud of our team. And I don’t think that one game necessarily defines who you are, and that’s certainly what I’d like for our players to know. I think you learn a lot from experiences like this.”
Safety Xavier McKinney:
“Well, of course we had a great season. It didn’t end the way we wanted it to end. A lot of that defensively, I blame myself a lot for how we played today, and I just know me personally that I’m going to try my hardest and make sure that this doesn’t happen again. But I thought we played — we had a great season. It just didn’t end the way we wanted it to end.”
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa:
“Yeah, you know, just like what Xavier said, we had a great season. But five words: Good is not good enough. We didn’t finish the way we wanted to finish. We didn’t do the things we needed to do to execute and be successful in this game, and that’s all it is.”