The contest was a back-and-forth affair, with Bama finally pulling away in the fourth quarter to secure the victory. The matchup was only the second in the College Football Playoff era, so here are the best national championship games from the BCS to now.
One of the greatest performances of all time in one of the best upsets of all time. Vince Young ran roughshod over the Trojans, as the Longhorns put an end to one of the great college football dynasties. Texas needed every one of Young’s 200 rushing yards, as the Longhorns came back in the fourth quarter to win. The game featured many stars on both teams, including Young, Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and Lendale White, all of whom made it to the NFL.
Florida State 34, Auburn 31, 2014 BCS National Championship
Auburn was a bit of a mystery entering this title contest, winning two regular season games on the backs of improbable plays. But a bobbled Hail Mary and kick-six later, the Tigers proved they belonged, going toe-to-toe with the juggernaut Seminoles in the last title game of the BCS era. But Florida State’s talent was ultimately too much, with phenom Jameis Winston leading a late touchdown drive to give the Seminoles a come-from-behind victory.
Ohio State 31, Miami 24, 2003 Fiesta Bowl
The Buckeyes upset the Hurricanes in one of the most controversial games of the BCS era. Ohio State won in double overtime—only after a questionable pass interference call took the win away from Miami after the first extra period. The talent on the field in this game was overwhelming—Willis McGahee, Kellen Winslow, Andre Johnson, Maurice Clarett, Chris Gamble and Mike Doss were just a handful of future NFL players who participated. Ohio State won on clutch performances from Clarett and quarterback Craig Krenzel. The Canes haven’t been the same since.
Auburn 22, Oregon 19, 2011 BCS National Championship
In a clash of styles, Chip Kelly’s Ducks went up against SEC stalwart Auburn. If not for Cam Newton’s heroics, Oregon’s up tempo style may have been enough for a national title. But the Tigers’ quarterback could not be stopped, and Newton led the game-winning drive with the game tied at 19 in the fourth. Newton has since gone on to star for the Carolina Panthers, while Kelly would eventually leave the Ducks for his own chance at NFL success.
Alabama 45, Clemson 40, 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship
A high-scoring, back-and-forth affair for the majority of the night. O.J. Howard had a big game for Alabama, while Hunter Renfrow caught two early touchdowns for the Tigers. Deshaun Watson ran and threw all over the vaunted Crimson Tide defense, but Bama proved to be too much by the end. The tide turned after Nick Saban dialed up a surprise onside kick in the second half, which led to a touchdown and lead the Crimson Tide never relinquished. The win gave Saban his fifth national title, while Clemson is still looking for their first championship since 1981.