Well, after a college football season that began way back in August, we have finally reached the College Football Playoffs. In the first semi-final on New Year’s Eve, the top-ranked and undefeated Alabama Crimson Tide will take on the 4th ranked Washington Huskies in the Peach Bowl.
Washington got to this point by going 12-1 and dominating Colorado 41-10 in the Pac-12 Championship game. They received enough votes from the committee to edge out a couple of Big Ten teams (Michigan & Penn State) for the fourth and final spot in the playoffs.
Huskies Head Coach Chris Petersen is not concerned about where they are seeded going into the game nor are his players. All they know is by winning, they can play for a national championship on January 9th, 2017 in Tampa, Florida.
For Alabama, they are looking to repeat as College Football National Champions after beating Clemson in a close game to win the title last season. Many thought that Alabama may go through a few growing pains after losing key players from last year’s team to the NFL. But Bama Head Coach Nick Saban always has a bumper crop of recruits ready to go and that was the case this season.
True freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts had an outstanding year and is a solid two-way threat every time he takes a snap from center. But statistics have shown that if you can get some pressure on Hurts he is not as productive. The Washington Huskies have a strong defensive line and if they can create some pressure on him and contain him from getting loose, the Huskies will have a much better chance in the game.
Washington will rely on quarterback Jake Browning and his top receiver John Ross to move the ball in chunks against what is always a strong and hard-hitting Alabama defense. Ross has great speed and whether he catches a deep ball or outruns the defense on a short one, he is someone Bama will need to contain.
The Huskies also feature a strong running game. Myles Gaskin has had a tremendous season rushing for 1,339 yards and 10 touchdowns. Although Alabama is not a team that allows much in the run game, if Browning can complete a few balls, it could open up the running game for Gaskin to have a good day.
But the Crimson Tide is clearly a team that knows how to win, more importantly, knows how to win on the biggest stage. That is most likely a tribute to Saban but also to the high-quality recruits he brings in year after year. He also has a great group of assistant coaches that help as well.
Oddsmakers have Alabama at around a 14 point favorite for this Peach Bowl contest, which seems a bit high for a national semi-final. But then again, they’ve been the best team in college football all year and I don’t see that changing now.
Prediction: Alabama to win and advance.