It has been quite a season for Alabama junior tailback Derrick Henry. Henry matched the 2009 season of Mark Ingram as running backs who won the Heisman Trophy and helped their Crimson Tide teams to the national championship. Bama won the title with a 45-40 victory over Clemson in Glendale, Ariz.
Henry rushed for 158 yards and three touchdowns in Monday night’s victory, his last score providing the winning points. It was Henry’s 10th 100-yard rushing performance of the season, a school record. Ingram and 2009 and Trent Richardson in Bama’s 2011 national championship season had nine 100-yard games. It was Henry’s 16th career 100-yard rushing game, breaking the record of 15 held by Bobby Humphrey (1985-88), Shaun Alexander (1996-99), and T.J. Yeldon (2012-14).
Henry finished the year with a Southeastern Conference record 2,219 rushing yards.
Although he was a back-up in 2013 and 2014, the starter only this year, he has 3,591 career rushing yards, also a school record. The old record was 3,565 yards by Alexander.
Henry’s three rushing touchdowns gives him an SEC record 28 this year and his career mark of 42 rushing touchdowns tied Ingram’s mark. He has scored a rushing touchdown in a record 20 consecutive games.
In Alabama’s nine games against ranked opponents he averaged 166.6 rushing yards per game and 5.9 per play and scored 18 touchdowns.
O.J. Howard set an Alabama record for receiving yards by a tight end in a game with 208 yards. He had five catches and two touchdowns. His TD catches were 53 and 51 yards and he also had a 63-yard reception. Howard was selected the most outstanding offensive player in the game.
Quarterback Jacob Coker threw for a career-best 335 yards and two touchdowns and did not have an interception. He completed 15 of 25 passes.
Coker, who wears No. 14, did not start the one game Bama lost this year, but was the winning quarterback in all others, making him 14-0 as a starter.
Safety Eddie Jackson was named the most outstanding defensive player in the game. He had three tackles and a key interception. The former cornerback finished the year with a team-leading six interceptions.
Alabama lost one game this year, falling to Ole Miss when the Tide lost five turnovers and had no takeaways. Since that game, Bama is plus 12 in turnovers, including a 1-0 advantage over Clemson thanks to Jackson’s interception. The Tide forced an SEC best 27 turnovers, including an SEC best 19 interceptions. Bama’s 442 return yards on interceptions was best in the nation, while the four picks returned for touchdowns was tied for second in the nation.
Alabama had two sacks against Clemson, giving the Tide 49 for the year.
Monday’s game was the only one this year in which Clemson had a lead in the fourth quarter and did not win. The Tigers were 14-0 coming into the game.
Bama has now scored in the first half of its last 118 games, the longest streak in the nation. The Tide has scored in 198 consecutive games, the longest streak in program history.
Alabama improved its record against Clemson to 13-3. The teams play infrequently and the Tigers won the first three – the last in 1905 as Bama has 13 consecutive victories.
Alabama has played three teams with the common Tigers nickname in each of the last two seasons and beaten all of them – LSU and Auburn both seasons, the Missouri Tigers in the 2014 SEC Championship Game, and now Clemson.
Attendance for the game was 75,765.
Alabama is now 72-10 this decade, best in the nation.
Prior to Monday night’s College Football Playoff National Championship Game, one of the “fun facts” being shared in the stadium was Alabama’s best-in-the-nation bowl history. The Crimson Tide came into the game with 63 bowl appearances and 35 bowl victories, both the most of any other team.
The most recent Alabama bowl victory came a week and a half ago in the Cotton Bowl, a 38-0 win over Michkigan State that was also the semifinal game for the CFP finals against Clemson.
The national championship game, however, may not to be added to Alabama’s list of bowl appearances, but rather as a stand-alone game. There were 40 bowl games this year, all approved by the National Association of Collegiate Athletics Directors (NACDA).