As far as Clemson is concerned, the sequel was much better than the original. The underdog Tigers upset defending national champion Alabama 35-31 as Clemson quarterback DeShaun Watson beat the Crimson Tide with his arm, his legs and his heart to win a rematch of last year’s title game. Alabama beat Clemson 45-40 last season in the championship.
Roughed up early by the Tide’s hard-hitting defense, Watson regained his composure to throw for 420 yards and three TDs. His final strike was a 2-yard score to Hunter Renfrow to cap a nerveless final drive with one second left. Watson also ran the ball 21 times for 43 yards and a touchdown. The lead changed hands four times in the fourth quarter of the seesaw affair. After falling behind 14-0 early, Clemson scored 21 points in the fourth quarter against an Alabama defense that had allowed just 32 points in the fourth quarter all season. That ended Alabama’s 26-game winning streak and its dreams of back-to-back national titles.
Instead, Clemson won its first national title since 1981. The Tigers have their junior quarterback Watson to thank for his gutsy performance in what probably was his final college game before heading to the NFL draft.
The Steelers have placed assistant coach Joey Porter on leave while the team reviews information about his arrest early Monday morning. The former Pro Bowl linebacker has been charged with assaulting a doorman at a bar and a police officer who intervened.
- Packers receiver Jordy Nelson will not practice with the team midweek after suffering injured ribs in Sunday’s playoff win over the Giants. Coach Mike McCarthy says if Nelson can practice Saturday, he could still play in Sunday’s playoff game at Dallas.
- The Giants are looking into damage outside of the team’s locker room in Green Bay Sunday after it was alleged receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. punched a hole in a wall. General manager Jerry Reese says the team is investigating and the appropriate party will be held responsible for the damage. Beckham dropped a career-high three passes in the loss to the Packers.
Anthony Davis had 40 points and 18 rebounds before leaving with a left hip injury after a hard foul in the New Orleans Pelicans’ 110-96 victory over the New York Knicks, who started the game without Derrick Rose and lost Carmelo Anthony to an ejection. Rose was not with the team for unspecified reasons. Anthony left late in the third quarter after getting thrown out for arguing with the officials.
- Russell Westbrook had 21 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds, helping the Oklahoma City Thunder pull away from the Chicago Bulls, 109-94. Steven Adams scored 22 points and Enes Kanter had 20 points and 11 rebounds for OKC.
- Karl-Anthony Towns had 34 points and 11 rebounds, Ricky Rubio added 13 points and a season-high 15 assists, and the Minnesota Timberwolves snapped a four-game losing streak with a 101-92 victory over Dallas.
Tuesday Night in the NBA
Baylor has moved into the top spot in the weekly Associated Press men’s basketball poll. The Bears replace Villanova which was upset last week by Butler. The 15-0 Bears have made a meteoric rise in the poll, going from a team that didn’t receive a vote in the preseason poll to one that received 55 first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel. The second-ranked school is Kansas, which received eight first place votes, with Villanova third after getting one first place nod. Ranked No. 4 is UCLA and the Bruins were given the remaining first place vote. The fifth-ranked team is unbeaten Gonzaga while Kentucky is sixth followed by Duke, Creighton, Florida State and West Virginia.
Games Tuesday Night
(1) Baylor at (10) West Virginia
(2) Kansas at Oklahoma
15) Xavier at (3) Villanova
(6) Kentucky at Vanderbilt
(7) Duke at (9) Florida St.
(23) Florida at Alabama
(25) Kansas St. at Texas Tech
(Courtesy: Associated Press)