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Nick Saban: Waiting on CFP fate was 'a little white-knuckle time'

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Saban: Bama 'deserved the opportunity' to be in CFP (1:11)

Alabama head coach Nick Saban says that his team earned the right to be in the College Football Playoff for the 4th straight year. (1:11)

Nick Saban wasn't afraid to roll up his sleeves to help his team get into the College Football Playoff.

Saban said that in advance of Sunday's announcement, he actively tried to "influence" the committee's decision-making to look at the whole body of work of Alabama's season, which included a record of 11-1 and the highest scoring differential in college football.

"I don't know if it had an impact on the committee, but I wanted to put my case out there," Saban said.

Despite not winning the SEC, Alabama beat two-loss and Big Ten champion Ohio State for the fourth and final playoff spot. The Crimson Tide will face No. 1 Clemson in the AllState Sugar Bowl.

"It was a little white-knuckle time for all of us," Saban said of waiting to learn Alabama's fate.

When asked if he was lobbying for his team, Saban told ESPN's Chris Low: "Why wouldn't you?"

"You want to create awareness about your team. If we would have lost to an unranked team in the SEC by 31 points, we wouldn't even be in the conversation," Saban said, a reference to Ohio State's 55-24 loss to unranked Iowa last month.

Saban said he was flipping back and forth between the Ohio State-Wisconsin and Clemson-Miami games on Saturday night. He was recruiting when he learned Sunday that Alabama was in the playoff and would play Clemson yet again.

Alabama beat Clemson in the championship game in 2015 but lost in the final minute of the rematch in 2016.

"We met these guys two years in a row in the finals," Saban said. "It's something to look forward to."

Although those were different teams, Saban said there are "always" technical things you can take away from previous matchups, citing the continuity on the Clemson coaching staff and the schemes they continue to run today.

Saban said that Clemson will be "by far the best team we've played," and he was especially complimentary of the Tigers' defensive line, which has helped the defense rack up the most sacks in the FBS (44).

When Alabama faces Clemson, it will be without safety Hootie Jones, who is recovering from a knee injury. But Saban said injured outside linebacker LaBryan Ray could be available to practice after Christmas.

"Even though we didn't finish in the last game [against Auburn] like we'd like, we feel like the committee did a great job of picking the four best teams," Saban said. "We certainly feel like we're one of the four best teams."