Well, that was an ass-whupping. Clemson scored first and kept scoring, and Alabama shot their own butts off, and when it was over—roughly three minutes into the fourth quarter—the Tigers had secured a 44–16 victory over Alabama and definitively replaced them as college football’s preeminent powerhouse.
This was the first loss by at least two touchdowns for Alabama under Nick Saban, and the first Crimson Tide loss by 16 or more points since November 13, 2004, when they were beaten by an LSU team coached by, yes, Nick Saban. Alabama’s vaunted defense was pretty much powerless to stop or slow Clemson, surrendering 347 passing yards and three touchdowns to quarterback Trevor Lawrence, and another 135 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Alabama’s offense had stretches where they looked every bit as dangerous, but costly turnovers and some baffling play-calling kept them off the board altogether after the first quarter.
The dumbest and most spectacular and emblematic of Alabama’s drive-killing failures came early in the third quarter, with Clemson holding their 15-point halftime lead and the Crimson Tide facing a fourth-and-six from the Tigers’ 21-yard line. Saban—who likes special teams trickery enough to sandbag his kicking game—sent out his field goal unit. Note Clemson’s defensive alignment at the start of this play—if they didn’t know exactly what was coming, they were certainly prepared for what did:
That hilariously doomed fake field goal was the first of three consecutive turnovers on downs the Tide committed in the second half, in a stretch that saw Clemson extend its lead from 15 to 28 points and put the game way, way out of reach. All three came on runs: Tua Tagovailoa scrambled for three yards on the next one, on fourth-and-four from Clemson’s 14-yard line; and Tagovailoa was dropped for a big loss on a dead-on-arrival quarterback keeper on fourth-and-goal from the Clemson two-yard line, on Alabama’s last meaningful drive of the game.
If you enjoyed watching Nick Saban eat a bathtub full of warm turds Monday night, and were willing, if not happy, to spend the evening rooting for gross shitheel Dabo Swinney and his Clemson powerhouse, you should know that Clemson is about to become college football’s unstoppable juggernaut:
Also this happened, which is objectively bad:
Trevor Lawrence is a superstar who could sit out all of next season and still be the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Ross and Etienne are monsters. Ross did this, which honestly seems like it should be impossible or illegal:
Etienne went for 86 yards on 14 carries and both of Clemson’s rushing touchdowns. Assuming everyone is healthy and nothing unforeseeable happens, the Tigers are going to spend next season rampaging. But tonight they did everyone the favor of smashing Alabama and Nick Saban on national television, and for that we can all share a moment of gratitude.