Washington vs. Alabama, 12/31/16 - Prediction
Written by: Stephen Sobek
#4 Washington Huskies (12-1, 7-6 ATS) vs. #1 Alabama Crimson Tide (13-0, 9-4 ATS)
NCAAF: Saturday, December 31 @ 3:00 p.m. ET
The Line: Alabama Crimson Tide -16 Total: 55
Bowl: Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
The College Football Playoff is here, as the Washington Huskies are set to do battle with the undisputed #1 team in America, the Alabama Crimson Tide. Not only will the winner of this matchup take home a Peach Bowl Title, but they will compete for a National Championship a week later. Washington dominated the Pac 12 Title game, winning 41-10 against an overmatched Colorado side. Alabama did the same to Florida in the SEC Championship, so both teams are coming off convincing victories.
The ‘W’ is for ‘Win’
The Washington Huskies won’t have it easy against the best team in the land on New Year’s Eve, but Chris Petersen’s squad has to be thankful at least for the opportunity. Many people have already penciled in Alabama for the National Championship game, but I think Petersen could have a trick or three up his sleeve to try and compensate for the talent differential. He has experience dialing up unexpected plays during his time at Boise State, so Washington could be a much more dangerous opponent for Alabama than we may give them credit for. The Huskies have one of the nation’s top passers in Jake Browning, who’s 42 touchdowns rank second in the FBS. Washington’s defense is a talented, yet underrated unit that gives up the 16th-fewest yards to opponents.
Browning had an off-game against the Colorado Buffaloes, but he didn’t end up needing to be very efficient. The favorites swallowed up Colorado by 31 points, as Washington’s quarterback was only 9 of 24 passing for 118 yards. He did have two scores through the air in the victory as well. Myles Gaskin led a dominant Huskies rushing attack, galloping for 159 yards on 29 carries. Lavon Coleman was over 100 yards on the ground and also added a touchdown to the cause.
Targets on Their Backs
As if being undefeated and number-one wasn’t enough pressure, head coach Nick Saban said of his players: “They have a chance to do something to create a legacy for this team. That’s something they should think about, how important that is, what they are willing to do to do it. Because all the teams you play from here on out are really, really good.” The pressure is certainly intensified in a win-or-go-home scenario for the Crimson Tide. They’ve been incredibly overpowering on both sides of the ball all season, particularly defensively. The funny thing is, SEC bias remains alive and well. Most wouldn’t realize that the only true test Alabama has faced at the quarterback position lit them up for 421 yards and three scores back in September. That man was Chad Kelly, and his Ole Miss Rebels were five points away from putting a tally in the Tide’s loss column. Browning isn’t as mobile, but he is a touch more accurate, so things could get interesting in this one.
There’s no use spending too much time talking about Alabama’s 54-16 dismantling of the Florida Gators in the SEC Championship. They dominated yet again, posting an impressive 234 total rushing yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Jalen Hurts, like every previous Bama quarterback, managed the game well, throwing for only 138 yards and a score.
College Football Trends: N/A
The Alabama Crimson Tide are favored in this game by multiple touchdowns just by name alone. They have the most talented and deep roster in the nation, and it will be on full display in the Peach Bowl against Washington. The Huskies have been doubted the entire season, and I have a feeling that this game will be much closer than projected. Jake Browning is the superior quarterback, and even against an Alabama defense that is third in the country in yards allowed behind only Michigan and Army, I like what I see in him and the underdogs. The Crimson Tide should still get the job done, but Washington has been given enough points to make them a confident choice for me.
The Pick: Washington Huskies +16
This game could go many ways, as it will come down to how well Bama’s defense can stop Washington. If Browning is held under 200 yards, then the under looks enticing. However, I don’t expect that to be the case as he has both a 1,000-yard receiver to throw to, John Ross, and a 1,000-yard rusher to hand off to, Myles Gaskin. Look for the Bama offense to get theirs as well behind the combination of Jalen Hurts and Bo Scarbrough in the backfield. I like the over in this one, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Bama pitches a near shutout because they have so many playmakers on defense.
The Pick: Over 55
Confidence: 4/5 (spread) 2/5 (total)
I'm an incredibly passionate sports fan that can't get enough of anything football, baseball, basketball, or hockey related. I've been picking spreads and teams for 7 years with great success, so you know I can pick you some winners!
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