Clemson's Ben Boulware kisses the championship trophy after the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Alabama Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. Clemson won 35-31. (Source: AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Clemson's Deshaun Watson holds up the championship trophy after the college football playoff championship game against Alabama on Jan. 10, in Tampa. Clemson won 35-31. (Source: AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Alabama's Bo Scarbrough runs for a touchdown during the first half of the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Clemson Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (Source: AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Clemson's Deshaun Watson is stopped on a third down run during the first half of the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Alabama Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (Source: AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Bo Scarbrough put Bama on the board first, busting out a 25-yard run for a touchdown in the first quarter. He again powered through Clemson’s defense with a 37-yard run for a touchdown in the second quarter. Scarborough would leave the game with an injury later in the game.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson, Clemson's two-time Heisman candidate, capped an 87-yard drive with an 8-yard run for the Tigers' first touchdown. Within the drive, Watson completed a 44-yard pass to Deon Cain and a 26-yard pass to Jordan Leggett.
The Tide went into the locker room at halftime with a 14-7 lead.
Alabama put the first points of the second half on the board with an Adam Griffin field goal. The kick was set up by the Alabama defense’s forced fumble and takeaway on Clemson's first drive of the second half.
Clemson's Watson battled back, completing a 24-yard pass to Hunter Renfrow for a touchdown with 7:10 remaining in the third quarter.
Freshman Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts threw a 68-yard bomb to O.J. Howard, putting the Tide up 24-14 in the third quarter.
Watson returned the favor with a short touchdown pass to Mike Williams to kick off the fourth quarter.
Later in the fourth, Clemson capped an 88-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by Wayne Gallman. Watson led the drive with a slew of completions and a 15-yard run.
Alabama's Jalen Hurts scored on a 30-yard touchdown run with 2:07 left in the game, seemingly putting the Tide within striking distance of their fifth championship in eight seasons.
But Clemson engineered a game-saving drive, scoring with a 2-yard pass from Watson to Hunter Renfroe with one second left on the clock to secure the win.
Watson was named the game's offensive MVP. Ben Boulware was named the defensive MVP.
"Maybe now everyone will understand when I say Deshaun Watson is the best player in the country," Swinney said.
Swinney was a part of Alabama’s 1992 national championship team as a wide receiver.
Clemson's win is the first for the ACC since Florida State defeated Auburn in 2014.