Clemson wins CFB Playoff slot; Deshaun Watson deserves Heisman

Sometimes, it feels like we’ve forgotten how good Deshaun Watson is, because he’s been so good for so long.

The Clemson quarterback will graduate in less than two weeks, and he’ll do so as a two-time ACC football champion, after the Tigers staked their claim to the CFB Playoff with a 42-35 win over Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship on Saturday night (in a sparsely populated Orlando stadium).

The Tigers went up quickly 14-0, but this is 2016 Clemson, and nothing is done easily, but it normally gets done. VT played the role of the horror movie damsel in distress that goes through unthinkable torture and still somehow comes out alive in the final scene. Think Jessica Biel in Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the new one).

The only drama to this point is where Clemson will place in the almighty final CFB Playoff rankings. If there’s a team that has the look and feel of one that can upset SEC behemoth Alabama, Clemson looks like it. They played the Tide strong in the title game last year, and even though they have a penchant for needing close games to get themselves riled up (seven games have been one-possession affairs), there’s value in being able to pull out clutch wins.

At three different points on Saturday night, the Tigers found themselves up 14 points, only to see Jerod Evans and VT come clawing back, like a spider you keep turning the faucet on to get ride of, but it won’t go down the drain. Evans ran for two touchdowns, but struggled badly throwing the ball.

VT made the game a game in the first half with a fake punt that seemed to signal that the kitchen sink playbook was en vogue, and that if the Hokies were going to lose, it was going to be with all the tools laid bare on the garage floor.

And as Clemson has been so many times this season, they were a willing participant in the close game. The big narrative, though, is that it doesn’t matter. They won. They’re in. And they’re probably in the number two slot.

Meanwhile, onto Watson, who feels like he’s been overlooked since his freshman season when everyone saw him explode onto the scene and said, “DESHAUN WATSON!? WHO IS THIS!?”

But with familiarity breeds complacency, and he’s been almost forgotten this year as the Tigers have marched to yet another ACC title. His most redeeming quality as a passer continues to be his ability to simply trust his receivers and his faith in himself. He had 85 yards and two touchdowns on the ground Saturday night, marking 5 overall.

If there’s a better, more clutch player in college football, go ahead and line him up so we all can see him before the Heisman vote goes through, because underappreciated or not, Watson deserves the honor.

And if there’s a team genuinely capable of reasonably defeating Alabama, Clemson has to be top shelf on your list. Last year is last year, but this is a football team that continues to figure out how to make games interesting, but win those games late. And no matter who they play, they’ll have the best individual player on the field.

So Clemson wins the ACC title game, goes to the playoffs, and their quarterback is a Heisman finalist. That’s the end of this story, right?

Nah. The best may be yet to come. Probably late, in a nail-chewing, one-possession game. Because … Clemson.

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