The championship game is set, as Deshawn Watson and the 2016 Tigers easily took care of the 1981 Tigers, while Christian Wilkins and the 2018 Tigers ran away from the 2019 team in Clemson Football’s March Madness Tournament on TCI.
After picking 64 of Clemson’s best teams and two weeks and two days of rolling through the brackets, it finally comes down to this, who is the best team in Clemson Football History?
Is it the 2016 Tigers, who won Clemson its first national championship in 35 years with a dramatic come-from-behind victory over Alabama in the title game, or is it the 2018 Tigers, who steamrolled through its schedule and then demolished Notre Dame and Alabama in the College Football Playoff? Those Tigers capped the year by beating the Crimson Tide, 44-16, in the championship game. It is the worst loss in Nick Saban’s career at Alabama.
The championship will be decided on TCI’s Twitter account @clemsoninsider on Monday.
Though it is not surprising the 2016 Tigers made it to the title game, it was surprising how lopsided the vote was to get them there. They beat the 1981 Tigers, one of the most beloved teams in Clemson history, by earning 71.4 percent of the vote.
The 1981 Tigers were Clemson’s first national championship team. They earned the title by going a perfect 12-0, including a 22-15 win over No. 4 Nebraska in the 1982 Orange Bowl. Clemson also beat No. 4 and defending national champion Georgia and No. 8 North Carolina on its way to an undefeated season.
The 2018 Tigers steamrolled the 2019 Tigers with 97.9 percent of the vote. Of course, both teams were apart of Clemson’s 29 straight wins, which started with the first game of the 2018 season and concluded with a loss to LSU in the 2020 CFP National Championship.
Clemson’s 2018 Tigers are considered one of the greatest teams in the history of college football. They were the first team since 1897 to go 15-0 and they did it by dominating most every team they faced.
In 2018, Clemson won 13 of its 15 games by 20 or more points, including each of its last 10 games.
The 2018 Tigers were led by a defense that led the nation in scoring defense and had five defensive players named All-American. They were led by their front four which consisted of Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence at defensive tackle and Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant at defensive end.
Clemson led the nation with 54 sacks in 2018.
The 2016 Tigers were led by its offense, in particular quarterback Deshaun Watson. Four times in 2016, Watson led Clemson on a last-minute drive or in overtime to win a game.
At seasons end, Watson won the Davey O’Brien and Manning Awards as the nation’s best quarterback for a second straight year, he was also a Heisman Trophy Finalist for a second straight year. He helped win Clemson its first national championship since 1981 when found Hunter Renfrow on a 2-yard touchdown pass with one second to play against Alabama.
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