-- Last year, Clemson QB Deshaun Watson?turned in 478 total yards against Alabama. It was the most by any player since the national championship game was introduced in 1998 and it's the third-highest total ever against a Nick Saban-coached Alabama team.?
Alas, it was not enough. Watson might need to be even better if the Tigers are to avenge their loss to the Tide, but he's not alone among the game-changing players who will be on the field in Tampa, Florida.?
Here are the top 10 impact players in the College Football Playoff Championship (Monday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN & ESPN App).
1. Clemson QB Deshaun Watson (Muench)
Watson will have to play one of the best -- if not the best -- games of his career and he has the talent and supporting cast to get the job done. While he misses on some throws, he's accurate enough to pound the strike zone when he gets into a rhythm and he has the arm strength to take the top off the coverage. Yes, Alabama's pass rush will make it tougher for him to exploit favorable matchups, but his ability to evade pressure and extend plays should help his pass protection and lead to big plays.
He's no stranger to high-pressure situations either. Clemson won six games by seven points or less this year, and while a lot has changed over the past year, he accounted for 478 yards of total offense, including 405 total passing yards and four touchdowns against Alabama last year. He has thrown multiple interceptions in five games this season and it won't be a surprise if he turns the ball over against an opportunistic Crimson Tide defense, but he has the mental toughness to overcome his mistakes.
2. Alabama RB Bo Scarbrough (Weidl)
Scarbrough had a coming-out party last week against Washington, rushing for 180 yards and two touchdowns. He looked fresh against the Huskies and no longer appears to be hampered by a knee injury suffered against LSU late in the year. Scarbrough's rare combination of size (6-foot-2, 230 pounds), strength and speed is what separates him from the other Tide running backs, and expect Alabama to feature Scarbrough against Clemson.
The Tigers might be able to keep him in check for 75 percent of his carries, but his explosiveness to hit the home run when reaching green grass provides him the ability to do most of his damage on just a handful of touches.
3. Clemson WR Mike Williams (Muench)
The 6-3, 225-pound Williams eclipsed the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the second time in his career this season and Alabama doesn't have a defensive back who can handle him one-on-one. Marlon Humphrey and Anthony Averett are physical corners who match up well against bigger receivers, but Williams is a unique talent. He has the body control, focus and catching radius to come down with 50-50 balls, notably inside the red zone, which is key considering Alabama has surrendered just three rushing touchdowns this season.
He's also got the speed to stretch the field and the power to break tackles after the catch. If Alabama rolls its coverage in an effort to help out with Williams, he is still making an impact because the attention he draws creates opportunities for Clemson's other receivers.
4. Alabama DE Jonathan Allen (Weidl)
Allen is arguably the best defensive player in college football and his ability to affect the game in multiple ways should play a significant role on Monday night. Clemson will look to spread the Tide's defense thin horizontally. Allen's ability to hold his gap and his range will be needed to keep the Tigers' run game in check, particularly between the tackles.
In addition, Allen's versatility as a pass-rusher to generate interior pressure should play a big role in creating disruption and preventing Watson from stepping up against the edge pressure Ryan Anderson and Tim Williams can produce.
5. Clemson TE Jordan Leggett (Muench)
Leggett caught just 39 passes this season and just one pass for four yards against Ohio State, making him a debatable pick here. Here's why he should be a top-five pick: Clemson is going to have a tough time moving the ball consistently, so it's important that the Tigers make big plays. Leggett is averaging 16.4 yards per catch and he's a tough matchup for Alabama's safeties and linebackers. At 6-5 and 260 pounds, he's a long strider with the top-end speed to stretch the field and pick up chunk yards after the catch.
Last, but not least, Clemson is going to have to throw inside the red zone and Leggett's frame, combined with his ability to move around the formation, makes him a valuable red zone weapon in this game.
6. Alabama ILB Reuben Foster (Weidl)
Foster put on a show in last year's title game and was all over the field with nine tackles and one tackle for loss. The senior could very well duplicate that performance as he dropped weight this offseason without sacrificing his explosive power in tight quarters.
He has improved his overall range both as a run defender and in underneath coverage, which should pay dividends against a Tigers offense that forces linebackers to play in space. In addition, he is an explosive blitzer who has the ability to generate pressure through the A or B gaps when the Tide elect to pressure Watson.
7. Alabama DS Minkah Fitzpatrick (Muench)
Fitzpatrick leads Alabama with six interceptions, including two he returned for touchdowns. His ability to play the ball could change the complexion of the game considering how many interceptions Watson has thrown this season. The rangy safety does an excellent job of reading quarterbacks and tracking the ball.
His playmaking ability isn't the only thing Watson has to worry about -- Fitzpatrick has the timing to get to Watson quickly, if and when Alabama blitzes him. He's also a tough run-stopper and an above-average tackler capable of helping limit Clemson's production on the ground and after the catch.
8. Clemson DE Clelin Ferrell (Weidl)
Similar to what Clemson fans saw with Kevin Dodd down the stretch last year, Ferrell has made vast improvements throughout the season and is playing his best football right now. He has the most explosive first step along the Clemson defensive line and is excellent at maneuvering his pads to create disruption in the backfield.
Don't be surprised to see the redshirt freshman have his fingerprints on Monday night's contest, as he has shown up in every big game this season. In fact, nine of his 11.5 tackles for loss and five of his six sacks came against Louisville, Florida State, Virginia Tech and Ohio State.
9. Alabama TE O.J. Howard (Muench)
Don't expect Howard to catch five passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns like he did against Clemson last year. Don't be surprised to see him play a big role, however. He's a versatile weapon with the ability to move around the formation and get open quickly. He's also got the vision and burst to produce after the catch.
Look for Alabama to put him in motion and release him into the flat to take advantage of those strengths and help get freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts comfortable. Plus, Clemson is going to be aggressive against the run and Howard has the speed to slip behind the coverage if the Tigers' linebackers and/or safeties start biting on play-action.
10. Alabama WR? ArDarius Stewart?(Weidl)
This is my under-the-radar pick. Stewart has been quiet the past two games but has had some big performances throughout the season and could be due for another one on Monday. He is the most explosive receiver on the Tide's perimeter with his combination of size, strength and speed and ability to stretch the field vertically and create after the catch.
With Hurts struggling last week, combined with Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables' aggressiveness, the Tide could look to get the ball in Stewart's hands on the perimeter either with screen or fly sweeps. In addition, the Tigers have had some communication breakdowns in the back end, which could create some open space for Stewart to get loose vertically.