NEW YORK — Let’s face it, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson isn’t used to losing, even in a competition he can’t control.
In his career as the starting quarterback, Watson is 17-1 as a starter, and the only loss came in a game he did not finish due to injury. So it’s easy to imagine that Saturday’s acknowledgment he finished third in the Heisman Trophy race to Alabama’s Derrick Henry and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey was a bitter bill for the sophomore to swallow.
“I guess you can say (it motivates me), but I’m going to be motivated regardless if I had won it or not,” Watson said afterwards. “It does not change my attitude. We still have a national championship ahead and right now our focus is on Oklahoma.”
The Tigers (13-0) will play No. 4 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 31 as part of the College Football Playoffs. If Clemson should win that game, Watson could be seeing Henry, again, this time in the National Championship Game.
Second-ranked Alabama will face No. 3 Michigan State in the other semifinal game, which will be played in the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas.
“We said we wanted to meet up, again, in Arizona, but congrats to (Henry). He worked hard for it and he deserves it,” Watson said.
With the award season now behind him, Watson will be headed back to Clemson on Sunday and will be back in time for the Tigers’ first bowl practice, which begins later in the day. Watson, who won the Davey O’Brien Award as the nation’s best quarterback, says traveling from Atlanta to New York for the awards ceremonies has not drained him in the least. If anything, it’s been like a vacation.
“I’m fine. I’m totally fine,” he said. “I enjoyed the rest. I enjoyed the traveling. Tomorrow we will get back to work and I will get back with my teammates and get focused on Oklahoma.”
Getting himself and his team focused on Oklahoma with a national championship on the line will ease the disappointment of not taking home the Heisman Trophy on Saturday.
“Every team wants to have the opportunity to play for a national championship,” Watson said. “If you go ask Christian, he will tell you the same thing. He wishes he was in the final four. It’s an honor. We worked for it as a team. We still have to finish it off. We don’t want to go 13-1. We want to go 15-0 so that is our goal.”