Paul Finebaum explains why Nick Saban may welcome an Ohio State matchup over Clemson
The recent history of Alabama facing Clemson in College Football Playoff and national championship games in Paul Finebaum’s mind makes it more understandable that coach Nick Saban would rather face Ohio State next week than a program that feels confident in beating the Crimson Tide.
Finebaum, the SEC Network host and ESPN college football analyst, shared those thoughts on his regular appearance on “The Roundtable” on WJOX 94.5 in Birmingham, Alabama. While there is a history between the Crimson Tide and Buckeyes, it’s much shorter in terms of recent games, and they were longer ago.
“I will say in a weird quirky sort of way, I think Nick Saban deep down is happy seeing Ohio State across the field than Clemson and it’s only because of the history,” Finebaum said. “We all know Alabama and Clemson’s history and I think that’s a program down in South Carolina that knows it can beat Alabama and I don’t think what happened in 2014 has any impact on this game, this is a completely different world we’re living in. But I think Saban would prefer to take his chances against Ryan Day’s team against another matchup against Dabo Swinney although really these days with Dabo Swinney you kind of invite that challenge because you don’t know how Dabo Swinney’s going to affect the outcome of the game through his mouth.”
There are several variables at play for whether there is belief that Ohio State can deliver another game like it did in the semifinal against Clemson. Ohio State and Alabama players and coaches will have their first media availability to preview the national championship this afternoon.
“That was as good as we’ve seen all year in college football outside of Tuscaloosa,” Finebaum said. “I think it’s early to — what’s Justin Field’s health, I think we’ll find that out today. He took some vicious shots. Can you replicate something like that? I don’t know. Sports psychologists will have to answer that.”