Paul Finebaum believes an injured Justin Fields must play perfect ball to beat Alabama.
ESPN’s Paul Finebaum knows it will take another Herculean effort out of Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields for his team to stun the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2021 National Championship game on Monday night.
“I think the obvious [thing] that he’s trying to say is, ‘Yeah, I got hurt, but I’m fine,’” said Finebaum on ESPN’s First Take Wednesday. “When you get shot up to stay in the game, it’s not unheard of, it’s fairly commonplace. But it does indicate a bigger problem.
“And I think as we get closer to Monday night, all eyes are going to be on Justin Fields. What is his health? He played, not only a great game against Clemson, he played the game of his life. You have to do that to beat Alabama.
“Not because their defense is so great, it’s not. By Alabama standards, it’s a better than average defense, but their offense is all-world. If you watched the Heisman last night, only three of the top five players in the voting are on that Alabama offense.
“They had a bad game against Notre Dame and only scored 31 points. They average 49 points a game and if they score in the 40s, it really doesn’t matter. Justin Fields and Ohio State probably would not be able to keep up. If he is less than perfect in that game, the Buckeyes are going to be challenged to stay on the same field.”
What else needs to happen for Ohio State to beat Alabama?
Besides Fields playing the game of his life again, Ohio State will need other big-time players to step up in big-time moments to shock the Crimson Tide. Running back Trey Sermon will need to keep pace with Doak Walker Award winner Najee Harris in the ground game. Chris Olave must hold his own when compared to Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith at wide receiver.
But more than anything, Fields will have to outplay Davey O’Brien Award winner Mac Jones at the quarterback position. Fields may be nimbler than Jones, but accuracy is the name to Jones’ sweet game. If the Buckeyes can get after the Alabama passer with great consistency, then Ohio State does have a chance to pull off the monumental upset in the national title bout.
Finebaum is right though, as Fields will need to play essentially perfect football to be a champion.