The Clemson Tigers won their second football national championship in the last three years with an impressive blowout victory over the heavily favored Alabama Crimson Tide. Coach Dabo Swinney has done an incredible job in his ten years as Clemson’s head coach building the football program into a juggernaut. Here are four key moments during Clemson’s record-breaking undefeated season that helped propel Clemson to the National Championship.
Tight Win Over Texas A&M
Clemson’s toughest test came in the second week of the season when they went on
the road to face the Texas A&M Aggies. Quarterbacks Kelly Bryant and Trevor
Lawrence both struggled to handle the loud atmosphere early in the game. Bryant
eventually settled into the game and led his team on two touchdown drives early in
the second half, which was enough to get the 28-26 win.
Elevating Trevor Lawrence to Starting Quarterback
Dabo Swinney made one of the most shocking coaching decisions of the year when
he benched Kelly Bryant in favor of freshman Trevor Lawrence. Bryant led Clemson
to the playoffs in 2017, but Swinney was concerned about his lack of growth
passing the football. The move ended up paying huge dividends as Lawrence
played amazing the rest of the season. Clemson likely fails to beat Alabama without
the freshman’s ability to throw the ball down the field.
Comeback Win Over Syracuse
Clemson’s second test of the season came against the Syracuse Orange in Trevor
Lawrence’s first game as the starting quarterback. Lawrence had to leave the game
after suffering an injury in the first half. The injury and Kelly Bryant’s transfer forced
the Tigers to rely on third-string quarterback Chase Brice to win the game. Brice
had his struggles against the tough Syracuse defense, but he still led his team on a
94-yard touchdown drive in the final minutes to secure the 27-23 win.
Defense Shuts Down Alabama
Not a lot of people outside of the state of South Carolina expected Clemson to
defeat Alabama in the title game. Freshman quarterbacks traditionally struggle
against defenses led by Nick Saban. The Clemson defense was also supposed to
have a hard time stopping the explosive passing attack of Alabama. The experts were quickly proven wrong as Clemson held Alabama to only 16 points, which was their lowest total of the entire season.