Fifth title puts Saban in a league of his own

Faced with the toughest challenge he ever has faced in a national championship game from Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, Saban did the same thing. Alabama recovered and, two plays later, scored the go-ahead touchdown in an epic 45-40 victory over No. 1 Clemson.

Alabama teammates celebrate their win against Michigan State after the Cotton Bowl NCAA college football semifinal playoff game against Michigan State, Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015, in Arlington, Texas.

Saban's five ties Howard Jones, who saw most of his success in the 1920s and '30s with USC, and Bernie Bierman, who won five with Minnesota in the '30s and '40s.

But what if Saban had bought a ticket earlier in the week while he was in Arizona for the national title game and won the $1.5 billion? "Obviously, they've been a great champion, and again, it was a slugfest out there, and I thought that they - obviously the couple of special teams plays were huge momentum plays, but again, I'm just proud of our team because they kept playing, kept fighting all the way to the end".

That's a win for the Clemson quarterback.

"Coach Saban is as aggressive as they come", said Kirby Smart, Alabama's outgoing defensive coordinator and the new head coach at Georgia.

And just like that, the college football season is over.

"Really, really frustrated with how the clock was handled", Swinney said at halftime. "Sometimes he was open and we didn't get him the ball, but I think the last two games have been breakout games for him in terms of what he's capable of and what he can do".

But Alabama came up with the big plays when they needed them.

Saban said he will meet with the program's underclassmen eligible for the National Football League draft on Wednesday. While Dabo Swinney and his Clemson Tigers fought valiantly, the team from Tuscaloosa proved to be too much for the ACC champs. However, in typical fashion, it sounds like the Crimson Tide nearly left Kiffin at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

Another result of the playoff, at least this year, may be a change in perception of the ACC. While the SEC may be superior from top to bottom, it's clear the ACC's team at the top, in this case Clemson, can compete with the likes of Alabama.

Watson had two scoring passes to Socastee High School graduate Hunter Renfrow in the opening half, the first coming as he sweetly dropped the ball into his receiver's arms between two Alabama defenders.

"I really appreciate the maturity that our guys showed this year in terms of staying focused on what was important for the team and putting that first, and I think it worked out really well for us", Saban said. Since going 7-6 in Saban's first season, the Tide is 97-12 and has never finished out of the final AP top 10. With this leading to four touchdowns, Watson's offense was one touchdown short from winning the game.

Trying to become the first FBS team to go 15-0, Clemson did not crumble under the force of Alabama's might. "I trusted them, that they would go out and execute it and do it".

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