Clemson and Alabama met in the College Football Playoff for the fourth time in five years on Monday night in Santa Clara, and while they’re familiar foes, both are starting quarterbacks neither opponent has seen.
Alabama deferred after winning the toss and forced a quick three-and-out by Clemson, as freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence had both of his pass attempts fall harmlessly to the turf. On the other side, Tua Tagovailoa completed his first two passes, as Alabama was clearly looking to establish a rhythm for their sophomore star with some quick passes.
However, a third straight attempt at getting the ball out of Tagovailoa’s hands quickly resulted in disaster, as Clemson’s A.J. Terrell jumped a quick out and took it back to the house for six, giving Clemson the lead.
The Clemson blitz made it look like man coverage, but Terrell undercut his receiver and drove on the ball (that was also a bit behind the intended target) and had nothing but green grass in front of him. It was an inauspicious start for Tagovailoa and the Tide, but the sophomore quarterback seemed calm on the sideline as he apologized to his teammates for his mistake.
He made up for it quickly on the next possession as he connected with Jerry Jeudy on a 62-yard bomb to tie the game, as both teams threw early haymakers.
If nothing else, the first three minutes of the game delivered on the promise of a heavyweight battle featuring star-studded teams.