The Clemson Tigers toppled a dynasty Monday night, earning their place in the history books.
When wide receiver Hunter Renfrow streaked into the end zone early Tuesday morning with one second left in regulation to give Clemson a 35-31 win in the College Football Playoff National Championship, historians got to scribbling.
Clemson's upset was retribution of the utmost kind at the collegiate level—payback for last year's 45-40 loss in the same game.
The reaction from the team's official Twitter account says it all:
Clemson Football @ClemsonFB
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! https://t.co/Dxz2YEkHxF1/10/2017, 5:31:47 AM
The same actors did the same work for Clemson. Deshaun Watson, after throwing four touchdowns a year ago and still losing, threw three more and ran for another while totaling almost 500 yards of total offense.
Renfrow, the former 150-pound walk-on recruit, scored two touchdowns—just like he did last year. In fact, the sophomore's touchdown with one second left is what set off a stunned chain reaction on social media featuring various personalities and led to some epic reactions by the players:
Big Cat @BarstoolBigCat
What a sequel.1/10/2017, 5:21:49 AM
George Schroeder @GeorgeSchroeder
WOWOWOWOWOW1/10/2017, 5:20:59 AM
Clemson Football @ClemsonFB
We win, we dance. #ALLIN https://t.co/CIknsJka2z1/10/2017, 6:06:24 AM
Clemson Football @ClemsonFB
Feels good, doesn't it? #SolidOrange https://t.co/bJUQ5iomql1/10/2017, 1:15:21 PM
For some such as Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune, the term "Clemsoning" just went up in flames:
Teddy Greenstein @TeddyGreenstein
What does Clemsoning mean now? #ALLIN1/10/2017, 5:37:08 AM
Indeed, this historic game altered the perceptions around both programs.
For instance, a Nick Saban-coached team no longer seems like a runaway to win a game while being down late. Look at a staggering note from ESPN's Michele Steele:
Michele Steele @ESPNMichele
Alabama is now 97-1 under Nick Saban when leading by double digits entering the 4th quarter. Clemson is the 1.1/10/2017, 1:14:55 PM
"I just smiled right when they scored," Watson said, according to ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel. "I seen the 2:01 on the clock [after the Tigers' kickoff return], and I just smiled and I just knew. I just told my guys, 'Hey, let's be legendary, let's go be great.'"
Legendary indeed. Watson missed out on the Heisman Trophy, yet history might look at the situation differently after the rematch.
"I'll say it again," Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said, per Maisel. "He didn't lose out on the Heisman. The Heisman lost out on him. They lost out on an opportunity to be attached to this guy forever."
After capping off a redemption tour, Watson used the platform to announce he'd head to the NFL next year, as the Independent Mail's Brad Senkiw captured:
Brad Senkiw @BradSenkiw
Deshaun Watson: "It's my time to go (pro). Moments like this I'll never forget. Clemson was the best three years of my life."1/10/2017, 6:35:26 AM
Funnily enough, Clemson was almost robotic in its win—like many would describe the Crimson Tide under Saban after each of their title wins.
While Watson was busy declaring for the draft, others made a point to stress a new collegiate dynasty had arrived.
“We’re here to stay,” defensive end Clelin Ferrell said, according to Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples.
“We’ve modeled our program after Alabama,” co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. “Each year, you just reload.”
Rest assured Alabama now assumes the position of a reload with a thirst for revenge. Oddities peppered the game for the Crimson Tide. Bo Scarbrough was his usual self, rushing for 93 yards and two scores.
The black eye on the contest, though, was freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts' struggles through the air. He put up a 13-of-31 effort for 131 yards and one score. The touchdown was a blown coverage exploited by tight end O.J. Howard (shades of last year), who finished with four catches for 106 yards and the score.
Hurts' struggles, outside of a 30-yard rushing score, reflect poorly on Saban's decision to let former offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin head to his next coaching job and give Steve Sarkisian the controls.
This was perhaps the biggest talking point surrounding the Crimson Tide after the game, especially on social media, as ESPN Radio's Roxy Bernstein showed:
Roxy Bernstein @roxybernstein
Live look at Lane Kiffin in Boca... https://t.co/dk1uPRj7R51/10/2017, 5:26:09 AM
Regardless of the reason, Alabama made it clear the program will rebound and is already looking ahead. Defensive end Jonathan Allen took to Twitter to emphasize this point:
Jonathan Allen @jonallen93
Alabama will learn from this loss and be better for it. Love all you guys Roll Tide Roll1/10/2017, 6:50:50 AM
"There's no excuse for the end result," Williams said, per ESPN.com's Edward Aschoff. "It's life, that's why I shed my tears because I left everything out there on that field. At the end of the day, man, I don't regret nothing because I know I gave it all for my brothers."
And in reality, many pointed out the ridiculous feat that was Alabama getting this far in the first place, as Charlie Potter of BamaOnline emphasized:
Charlie Potter @Charlie_Potter
Thought before sleep: Alabama lost a Heisman RB, QB, C, 7 starters on D and was 0:01 away from winning it all w/ a frosh QB. What a season.1/10/2017, 9:13:07 AM
But that's just the main takeaway from the title game, isn't it?
Reload and return.
College football's top two programs have now traded title wins. Few other programs come close. This much was apparent when the Crimson Tide smacked around a supposed elite Washington offense in the College Football Playoff semifinals. Ditto when Clemson shut out Ohio State, laughing the Buckeyes out of the building.
Monday's encounter had the look of a coin flip and played out as such. The reactions from both sides aren't shocking and mirror those from a year ago. Both sides have expressed one constant theme: They plan on being here next year too.
Statistics courtesy of ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.
Follow Chris Roling (@Chris_Roling) on Twitter.
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