TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama may have won its fourth national championship in seven seasons, but for the students in Tuscaloosa the party never gets old.
Crowds of people poured out from bars onto University Boulevard after Alabama beat Clemson 45-40 on Monday to win the national title. They yelled the school's chant, "Roll Tide!" and its league, "SEC!"
"This is the best way to start a semester," student Joshua Hudak said as the crowd danced in the streets in front of him.
Tuscaloosa police were keeping a close eye on the revelers, but there didn't appear to be any trouble. Alabama fans have celebrated their other titles with minimal arrests.
"Everybody in this state, they all depend on this," student Trey Daniel said. "This is the biggest thing of the year."
Both teams are set to head home from the game in Glendale, Arizona, on Tuesday.
The game was close throughout, keeping bars both in Alabama, and in South Carolina, where Clemson is located, hopping well into the night.
At Gallettes bar in Tuscaloosa, the crowd yelled and screamed. At halftime, "Dixie" and "Sweet Home Alabama" played.
In Clemson, where the college town's population of 15,000 grows six times as big on football game day, streets in the small downtown were loud but deserted during the game — everyone was inside the handful of bars, where the TVs were cranked so high you could hear the play-by-play throughout the town.
Clemson hadn't competed for a national title since the end of the 1981 season, when many of the parents of the students out Monday night were in college themselves.
Late in the third quarter, Clemson Police Chief Jimmy Dixon was standing outside in the cold keeping an eye on a TV through a bar window. He said his police force was ready win or lose, but he knew the result he wanted to see.
"We're going to have a bunch of students who want to party, and if we win this national championship, I want them to party. Just don't break anything," Dixon said.
But instead, some students cried as the game ended. Alabama coach Nick Saban's postgame interview on TV was drowned out by the playing of Clemson's alma mater, "Tiger Rag," at the Tiger Town Tavern.
"We still believe in our boys no matter what" student Kate Federico said, wearing a purple Clemson jersey with quarterback Deshaun Watson's No. 4 on it. "Next year is going to be another great season."
Associated Press writer Jeffrey Collins in Clemson, South Carolina, contributed to this story.