Ain't that a kick?
Alabama and Clemson went back and forth for much of what was a thrilling College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday night. The contest was tied early in the fourth quarter thanks to Bama kicker Adam Griffith's 33-yard field goal. Conventional wisdom suggested the Crimson Tide defense held the game's fate.
Nick Saban wasn't interested in conventional wisdom. The Tide, tipped off by game-tape study, lined up in a tight kickoff formation and Griffith followed up his field goal with a perfectly executed pooch onside kick.
Redshirt freshman Marlon Humphrey hauled it in over his left shoulder, and two plays later the Tide permanently seized control of the game.
This is the play that changed the game. Perfectly executed onside kick by Alabama's Adam Griffith: pic.twitter.com/xBExRKvslI- Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) January 12, 2016
It was risky. It was surprising. It was perhaps the most crucial highlight on a night full of them in Alabama's 45-40 victory over Clemson.
It also left Saban, a noted curmudgeon and headset abuser ... smiling?
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney was less thrilled, confronting officials to complain about ... something? There was plenty to appreciate about the play, but little to debate.
On the ensuing drive's second play, quarterback Jake Coker found a wide-open O.J. Howard for his second touchdown of the night, a 51-yard strike that put the Crimson Tide up 31-24 with 9:45 to play, a lead it never surrendered.
Alabama has its 16th national title (the fifth for Saban) and denied Clemson its first since 1981.
It's not hard to find the sequence that changed the game. Thank Saban and Alabama's guts for that.