Despite DeShaun Watson and Clemson amassing 550 yards against Alabama on Monday night, the national champion Crimson Tide finished the season with its best defensive numbers since 2012.
The Tide allowed 276.3 yards a game to rank third in the nation in total defense. They were first in rushing defense for the third time since 2011, giving up 75.7 yards a game, and tied with Ohio State for second in scoring defense with a 15.1-point average.
Watson’s 405 yards passing were the most surrendered by Alabama since Auburn’s Nick Marshall threw for 456 last season and dropped the Tide from 18th to 31st in pass defense at 200.6 yards a game.
The 2012 Tide, who also won the national title, led the country in total defense (250 ypg), rushing defense (76.4) and scoring defense (13.4 ppg) and was seventh in pass defense (173.6 ypg).
Clemson ranked in the top 25 in the major defensive categories and got dominant performances from defensive end Kevin Dodd in the last two games. After recording a sack and 3.5 tackles for loss against Oklahoma in the national semifinals, he had three sacks, five TFLs and seven total tackles against Alabama. Those three sacks were the most in a title game since Florida’s Derrick Harvey had three against Ohio State nine years ago.
Some other statistical feats of note to close out the 2015 season:
HOT HAND: Jake Coker’s big night against Clemson was a continuation of his hot streak to end the season. Over the last five games the Alabama senior completed 87 of 120 passes (72.5 percent) for 1,159 yards and nine touchdowns with no interceptions. He was a 67-percent passer for the season for 3,110 yards and 21 TDs with eight interceptions. Clemson’s Watson pushed his season passing total to 4,104 yards with his 405 against Alabama.
RUSHING CHAMP: Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry of Alabama pushed his Southeastern Conference-record rushing total to 2,219 yards with his 158 on 36 carries against Clemson. His 15-game average of 147.9 a game was second nationally behind Leonard Fournette’s 12-game average of 162.8 for LSU.
INTERCEPTION-FREE STREAKS: San Diego State’s Maxwell Smith and Georgia’s Greyson Lambert finished on impressive no-interception streaks. Smith, who missed the last two games because of a torn ACL, did not throw an interception in 164 pass attempts since the Aztecs’ second game. Lambert was interception-free in 131 attempts since the Bulldogs’ seventh game. Smith and Lambert each threw two picks for the season, the fewest by quarterbacks who had at least 200 attempts.
PILING UP POINTS AND YARDS: Baylor led the nation in both scoring and total offense for the third straight year. The Bears averaged 48.1 points a game, a field goal more than Texas Tech’s. Baylor scored 48.2 points a game in 2014 and 52.4 in 2013. They averaged 616.2 yards a game after amassing 581.5 a game last season and 618.2 in 2013.
MILITARY DISCIPLINE: Navy was assessed the fewest penalty yards per game for the third straight year and seventh time in eight seasons. The Midshipmen were flagged 3.1 times a game for 26.1 yards. Navy, Air Force and Army ranked 1, 4 and 5 in fewest penalties per game.
AP college football website: collegefootball.ap.org