Clemson’s Deshaun Watson holds up the championship trophy after the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Alabama Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. Clemson won 35-31. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Clemson’s Deshaun Watson holds up the championship trophy after the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Alabama Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. Clemson won 35-31. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Deshaun Watson took the snap, rolled right and with one of the easiest throws he had to make all night, completed Clemson’s journey to the top of college football.

A frantic fourth quarter and a championship rematch between Clemson and Alabama was decided with 1 second left on a 2-yard touchdown toss to Hunter Renfrow.

“I couldn’t hear the crowd,” Watson said. “I just felt at peace.”

Watson and the Tigers dethroned the defending champs and became the first team to beat Nick Saban’s Alabama dynasty in a national title game, taking down the top-ranked Crimson Tide 35-31 Monday night in the College Football Playoff.

A 35-year title drought for Clemson is over. The Tigers are national champions for the first time since 1981.

A year after Alabama won its fourth title under Saban with a classic 45-40 win in Arizona, Clemson (14-1) denied the Tide (14-1) an unprecedented fifth championship in eight seasons.

“That has to be one of the greatest games of all time,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said.

Hard to argue.

The new champions have a process of their own that includes a loquacious coach who can turn a postgame interview into a fiery sermon, a spectacular quarterback who did not need a Heisman Trophy to show he was the best player in the country and a fun-loving team that plays with a chip on its shoulder.

“There was no upset tonight,” Swinney said. “That’s the last thing I told them when we left the locker room. I said, ‘When we win the game tonight I don’t want to hear one word about this being an upset. The only upset is going to be if we don’t win the dadgum game.’”

The lead changed hands three times in the fourth quarter, but Watson got the ball last. Playing in his final college game, the junior quarterback threw for 420 yards and three touchdowns.

In two games against Alabama and the most ferocious defense in college football, Watson has thrown for 825 yards and accounted for eight touchdowns. He was sacked four times Monday night and took some cringe-inducing shots from All-Americans Jonathan Allen and Reuben Foster.


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