Crimson Tide Classic Replay: 2016 National Championship
Are you missing Alabama football? Stuck in quarantine and bored of the same old shows and programs? Relive some of the biggest games in the Nick Saban era with Eli Gold and Tide 100.9.
Each week for the next three weeks, Tide 100.9 FM in partnership with Learfield IMG College will air classic Alabama games during the Saban era. The games will be aired on Saturdays and Sundays on Tide 100.9 FM, our web browser and the TIDE APP. The game this weekend will air on Saturday, May 30 and on Sunday, May 31 at noon.
After blitzing Michigan State 38-0 in the Cotton Bowl, Nick Saban's 2016 squad made its way to Glendale Arizona to take on the Clemson Tigers for the National Championship. Backed by Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry and a vaunted defense, the Crimson Tide met a quality opponent in Dabo Swinney's Tigers, lead by quarterback Deshaun Watson. The game featured an exciting fourth quarter and sparked a championship rivalry that continues to this day.
In a game that saw many late game heroics from both sides, one of the most memorable was undoubtedly that of tight end OJ Howard. The senior tight end had always shown impressive ability as a player, but the nature of the ground and pound offense never truly allowed him to show it.
However, number 88 exploded for 208 yards on five catches (which was more than a third of his yardage on the season) with two of his three 2016 touchdowns in this game. Howard took advantage with his speed and deceptiveness, as quarterback Jake Coker found his big tight end wide open behind the Tiger defense on two occasions for 50-plus-yard touchdowns. And while he didn't score on the screen pass, Howard blazing down the far sideline was one more reason that this game helped propel Howard into being a top-10 draft selection.
Deshaun Watson is unquestionably one of the greatest college quarterbacks of all time, and his performance in this game put him in that conversation, throwing for 405 yards and four touchdowns. As such, the Tide needed some special moments to keep the rising star playing catch up.
Nick Saban made a bold move opting for an onside kick tied 24-24 with 10:34 to go in the game. Kick Adam Griffith made it pay off though as he provided a perfect pooch kick to corenerback Marlon Humphrey. Less than a minute later in game time, Coker found Howard on a 51-yard touchdown taking a lead that wouldn't be relinquished.
The next came on a Kenyon Drake kick return for 95-yard touchdown, at the end of which Drake leaped from nearly the five yard line, barely crossing the end zone.
Jake Coker faced many critics through his tenure with the Crimson Tide, but on this night he showed poise and accuracy behind his rocket arm. Throwing for 335 yards, Coker completed seven of his passes for 20 or more yards.
One of the most prolific throws Coker made in his entire career was hitting ArDarius Stewart for a 38-yard reception. With Alabama trailing by three, Coker stepped into the pressure lead by Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware and dropped a dime over Stewart at the 20-yard line as he tight-roped the near sideline.
Derrick Henry closed his Heisman Trophy winning campaign, and final season with Alabama, with one final bout of domination. Henry exploded for three touchdowns and 158 yards on 36 carries. His first touchdown was a 50-yard sucker punch that started the high-scoring affair. His final score was 1-yard push to cement the lead and the 16th championship for the Crimson Tide.
Listen to the Crimson Classic Replay this weekend on Tide 100.9 FM or stream it on the free Tide1009app. The game will at on Saturday and Sunday at noon.
Career Statistical Leaders: The Alabama Football Record Book