"Empire Strikes Back". "Wrath of Khan." "Godfather II." "Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey." Monday night was one of those rare moments when you could argue that the sequel was better than the original.
Thanks to Deshaun Watson and Hunter Renfrow's last-second heroics, Clemson exacted revenge on Alabama for the 45-40 loss to the Tide last year in what was then-considered one of the greatest titles game ever.
In fact, Watson has a cool connection to another winner of a memorable championship.
DeShaun Watson is the first Heisman runner-up QB to win the national title since Vince Young in 2005.- ESPN (@espn) January 10, 2017
Both wins were pretty exciting. pic.twitter.com/3xcYZGJWS8
But does Clemson 35, Alabama 31 dethrone Vince Young and Texas' win over vaunted USC more than a decade ago? College football only began playing true national championship games in the 1998 season, and Monday's was certainly one of the best during that span. Let's look at how they stack up.
1. 2006 Rose Bowl: Texas 41, USC 38
The king stays the king, even after Monday's classic Alabama-Clemson showdown. Both had a classic finish, but this game had a handful of the best players to ever step on a college field. Young stole the headlines with his game-sealing, fourth-down scramble inside the pylon and into college football immortality in the final seconds, but don't forget about fellow Heisman finalists Matt Leinart and winner Reggie Bush (or Bush's ill-conceived lateral in the first half). Four players from the game were top-10 picks in that year's NFL Draft. And the narratives. Oh, the narratives. Texas spent a month hearing about how defending champion USC had assembled the greatest team in college football history. It was a compelling argument, until Vince rendered it moot. His play remains one of the greatest in CFB history and this game got the highest ratings for a Rose Bowl in two decades.
2. 2017 CFP National Championship Game: Clemson 35, Alabama 31
Watson followed up his 405-yard performance in last season's title game with a staggering 420 this year. He threw three scores, ran for another and avoided a turnover against an Alabama defense that scored 11 times in its previous 14 games. Watson's final two yards won him the trophy that eluded him a year earlier, helping the Tigers rally from an early 14-0 deficit. Twice in the fourth quarter, Watson led his team on go-ahead touchdown drives, the final one sealing the game with one second left to play. New coordinator Steve Sarkisian -- replacing Lane Kiffin -- jolted Alabama's second-half offense with a double pass to O.J. Howard and a touchdown run from true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts. The Tigers answered with a nine-play, 68-yard touchdown drive to win the program's first national title since 1981, snapping Alabama's 26-game winning streak. All Watson could do in the wake of the realization he'd achieved the goal he'd been chasing for a calendar year was silently take a knee on the sideline and let the tears roll down his face. Just like Young did 11 years earlier, Watson took down a team many believed was among of the best in CFB history.
3. 2003 Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State 31, Miami 24 (2OT)
That flag! It's the most famous penalty in college football history and it came fashionably late. Miami believed it had won the title after a fourth-down incompletion from Craig Krenzel to Chris Gamble at the end of the first overtime. Line judge Terry Porter threw a flag on the play, initially signalling holding before changing the call to pass interference. The infraction's merit is still debated to this day. One play that gets overlooked: Ohio State converted a 4th-and-14 earlier in the drive to extend the first overtime. After the Buckeyes got a defensive stop, Maurice Clarett scored on a five-yard run to give OSU a win and an upset of the 11-point favorite Hurricanes. Of the game's 43 starters, 37 were eventually drafted.
4. 2014 BCS National Championship Game: Florida State 34, Auburn 31
Jameis Winston and the Seminoles ended the SEC's reign over college football and sent the BCS out in style. Auburn raced to a 21-3 lead but Jimbo Fisher's team rallied behind Winston, who finished with 237 yards and two scores. The QB threw the second when he found Kelvin Benjamin on a high throw in the back of the end zone with 13 seconds left to play. The seven-play, 80-yard drive lasted just 66 seconds and gave Florida State its first national title since 1999. It also ended a run of seven consecutive national titles for the SEC, shared among Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Florida.
5. 2011 BCS National Championship Game: Auburn 22, Oregon 19
Finally, we got to see one of the nation's most high-powered, fast-paced offenses against an SEC defense. Chip Kelly took Oregon to college football's biggest stage and came up one tackle short of a title. Was Michael Dyer down? It doesn't matter what you think. Officials ruled he was still alive after rolling over a defender. He kept going and set up a chip shot (sorry) field goal to send the Ducks packing at the gun. Oregon tied the game at 19 with a touchdown and a two-point conversion with 2:33 left, but Auburn's offense provided a decisive drive in the final minutes.
6. 2016 CFP National Championship Game: Alabama 45, Clemson 40
It took a kickoff return for a touchdown and a cheeky onside kick for Nick Saban to survive a 405-yard passing night from Watson and a Clemson team in the game's brightest spotlight for the first time in three decades. Clemson led 14-7 early and 24-21 late in the third quarter, but two long touchdown from underused tight end O.J. Howard and timely offensive execution to keep Clemson at bay in the fourth quarter gave Alabama its 16th national title.
Bonus round: 1984 Orange Bowl: Miami 31, Nebraska 30.
Before the BCS gave us true national championship games, Tom Osborne and Nebraska gave us one of the best games ever played and one of the most legendary coaching decisions in history, so it deserves mention. No. 1 Nebraska was 12-0 and facing No. 5 Miami. Turner Gill pitched to Jeff Smith for a 24-yard touchdown on 4th-and-8. A run of upsets earlier in the day gave Miami a chance to claim the national title, but back then, college football didn't have overtime. The Huskers' touchdown could have erased a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit, but Osborne went for the win instead of settling for a tie in the season finale. Gill's pass to Smith fell incomplete and while Nebraska and Osborne didn't get the title (Miami was voted No. 1 after the win), this earned a spot as one of the most beloved coaching decisions ever.
"We were trying to win the game," Osborne said. "I don't think you go for a tie in that case. You try to win the game. We wanted an undefeated season and a clear-cut national championship."