6Matt Leinart2005USCTexas3651120342 4Marcus Mariota2014OregonOhio State33321390367 1983Miami (FL)31-30, Orange BowlNebraska25.9 Total adjusted yards adds a player’s passing and rushing yards, plus 20-yard bonuses for passing and rushing TDs and a 45-yard penalty for interceptions.Source: College Football at Sports-Reference.com 2000Oklahoma13-2, Orange BowlFlorida State35.8 2000Oklahoma+26.0+5.7+17.1 2Vince Young2005TexasUSC267002003527 1981Clemson22-15, Orange BowlNebraska34.0 SEASONCHAMPIONBOWL RESULTBOWL OPPONENTPREGAME ELO WIN PROBABILITY 9Tim Tebow2008FloridaOklahoma231221090290 2014Ohio State42-20, CFP ChampionshipOregon40.1 That’s not to say the 13-1 Tigers didn’t appear to stand a chance against the 14-0 Crimson Tide; Clemson finished the season with history’s 18th-best peak rating. But the Tigers’ task was still daunting, particularly when the third quarter ended and they were still trailing by 10 points. During Nick Saban’s tenure at Alabama, the Tide were 97-0 when leading by double digits going into the final quarter of a game.That’s when Watson began to dominate the vaunted Alabama defense, which had previously been lauded as among the greatest in college football history. In the fourth, Watson completed 12 of 18 passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns, adding 22 more yards on the ground. He led Clemson to the most points (21) and third-most total yardage (152) any team put up against Alabama in a fourth quarter this season, capping off the victory with a 2-yard touchdown to Hunter Renfrow that put Clemson up with 1 second left on the clock.That quarter helped Watson secure the best individual performance by a QB on the championship stage since the 2000 season.22000 is earliest season for which Sports-Reference.com’s Play Index has game-by-game player stats. At least, that’s according to total adjusted yards, which takes a player’s total offense (passing plus rushing yards) and adds a bonus of 20 yards for every passing or rushing touchdown and subtracts a penalty of 45 yards for every interception. By that measure, Watson’s performance on Monday surpassed even Vince Young’s incredible feats in the 2006 Rose Bowl: Best QB performances in a championship bowl, 2000-16 2011Alabama+30.4+21.1+13.2 2010Auburn22-19, BCS ChampionshipOregon41.9 2016Clemson+30.4+20.4+6.4 1992Alabama+26.5+17.9+20.8 2002Ohio State31-24, Fiesta BowlMiami (FL)22.2% 8Jameis Winston2013Florida StateAuburn23720260303 2009Alabama+29.3+13.3+14.2 ELO RATING 2012Alabama+31.9+26.7+12.6 1992Alabama34-13, Sugar BowlMiami (FL)30.5 2016Clemson35-31, CFP ChampionshipAlabama32.9 In an era dominated by the Alabamas and Ohio States of the world, Clemson’s victory proved that with the right coach — and a special talent like Watson under center — a school can still rise from the middle of college football’s pack and become a champion. 2015Alabama+32.8+29.1+13.9 1999Florida State+29.4+26.0+18.1 2003LSU+24.7+12.1+7.2 5A.J. McCarron2012AlabamaNotre Dame2644090353 PASSINGRUSHING 2007LSU+23.4+22.2+7.5 2001Miami (FL)+29.6+16.9+18.2 Five-year Elo rating averages include the championship season and the four previous seasons. Historical averages are 20-year averages starting from 24 years before the championship season and going though five years before that season.Source: College Football at Sports-Reference.com 7Cam Newton2010AuburnOregon26521640324 2014Ohio State+31.5+19.1+16.9 1994Nebraska+27.6+18.7+22.5 1998Tennessee+26.9+22.7+10.9 2003USC+28.4+14.1+13.3 By beating Alabama 35-31 in Monday night’s instant classic of a College Football Playoff Championship, Clemson and its quarterback, Deshaun Watson, pulled off a number of incredible feats.For starters, the Tigers became the fifth-greatest upset champions since 1975,1In 1974, Associated Press champion Oklahoma didn’t play in a bowl game. Every champ since has finished their season in a bowl. beating a Crimson Tide squad that, at its peak, was ranked as the best team in modern college history by FiveThirtyEight’s Elo power ratings: And, unlike most recent champions, the Tigers were not longstanding members of college football royalty. Clemson won the national title in 1981, but it also spent most of the 1990s and 2000s as a decent-but-not-great program. It wasn’t until coach Dabo Swinney’s third or fourth full season at the helm that the Tigers became a permanent presence among the nation’s top 10 teams.To demonstrate the team’s rapid rise, let’s look at its last 25 seasons. Going back to the dawn of the Bowl Coalition era in 1992, no champion has had a lower average end-of-season Elo rating in the 20 seasons leading up to the five seasons before its title3So, for Clemson, this would be the 20 seasons between 1992 and 2011, which preceded the five seasons from 2012 to 2016. than Clemson. Meaning, the Tigers didn’t have the advantage of a longstanding lofty pedigree; they just got very good very quickly: SEASONNATIONAL CHAMPIONCHAMPIONSHIP SEASON5-YEAR AVG.HISTORICAL AVG. PLAYERSEASONSCHOOLOPPONENTYDSTDINTYDSTDTOTAL ADJ. YARDS 2006Florida+24.3+14.1+19.0 1997Nebraska+31.3+28.1+20.5 2004USC+31.8+19.0+12.4 Clemson didn’t come from a championship pedigree 2005Texas+28.6+21.9+8.4 2005Texas41-38, Rose BowlUSC39.8 2013Florida State+27.3+17.9+21.0 1Deshaun Watson2016ClemsonAlabama42030431543 2006Florida41-14, BCS ChampionshipOhio State28.6 Source: College Football at Sports-Reference.com 1997Michigan+27.2+18.9+19.1 2002Ohio State+22.1+13.5+14.4 1996Florida+31.0+23.9+11.1 1995Nebraska+33.9+23.3+21.8 2008Florida+31.9+19.6+18.6 1993Florida State+29.8+28.1+9.9 2010Auburn+23.4+10.7+12.7 3Deshaun Watson2015ClemsonAlabama40541730513 10Nick Marshall2013AuburnFlorida State21721451277 Biggest college football championship upsets, 1975-2016

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