Sensing the National Championship Game slipping away, Alabama pulled out a fake field goal on its first drive of the second half.
It did not go well.
Trailing 31-16 coming out of halftime, the Alabama offense drove inside the Clemson 30-yard line before the Tigers’ defense forced a fourth-down situation. It was fourth-and-6, so Alabama trotted out Joseph Bulovas for what would have been about a 39-yard field goal.
But instead of kicking it, the Tide tried a fake field goal. Clemson was ready.
The ball was snapped to holder Mac Jones, the team’s third-string quarterback. He quickly rose from a knee and tried to follow his lead blocker — Bulovas — but Clemson’s Nyles Pinckney fought through two blockers to tackle Jones behind the line of scrimmage.
Here’s another look where you can see Jones might have had a lane to run if Pinckney had not gotten to Jones.
Right after the fake failed, it was hard not to think of the SEC title game. In that game, with the score tied late in the fourth quarter, Georgia tried an ill-advised fake punt from its own territory that also was unsuccessful. That allowed Alabama to score the winning touchdown and cement its status as the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff.
The turnover on downs gave the ball back to Clemson at its own 24. Three plays later, the Tigers were in the end zone. Trevor Lawrence found Justyn Ross for a 74-yard score on a play where Alabama cornerback Saivon Smith, who was covering Ross, was injured.
As Ross made his break off the line of scrimmage, Smith tumbled to the turf. That allowed Ross to run free with just one man to beat. He got past the Tide safety and broke free for a huge touchdown.
Ross’ explosive score extended Clemson’s lead to 37-16 with 8:26 left in the third quarter. In the end, Clemson prevailed 44-16 in a dominant effort.
After the game, coach Nick Saban owned up to the bad play call. Via AL.com:
“I think it was a poor decision on my part not to kick the field goal the first drive of the second half,” Saban said. “We thought we had a really, really good fake, and somebody didn’t block the guy they were supposed to block, so it didn’t work, so it was a bad call. It’s always that way.”
More CFP title game coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• Clemson trounces Alabama to win national championship
• Thamel: Trevor Lawrence’s ascendance complete with title showcase
• Imagine Dragons gets roasted after halftime show
• Biggest plays in Clemson’s national championship win over Alabama