#4 Washington Huskies (12-1) versus #1 Alabama Crimson Tide (13-0)
Sunday, January 1, 2017, at the Georgia Dome, Atlanta, FL
Betting Odds: Alabama -16.5, o/u 54.5
According to the latest bowl odds, Washington is a 16.5-point underdog against Alabama with a total set of 54.5 points. Check out our bowl predictions where we pick the straight up winner of all 40 games.
As one of the oldest and most historic NCAA Football bowls games, the Peach Bowl earned its place in the rotation for the NCAA Football Championship Playoffs. This will be the first year the Peach Bowl has hosted a playoff game. It seems fitting that the matchup includes the #1 ranked team in the nation, Alabama Crimson Tide, coming east to play the Washington Huskies in neighboring Georgia.
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Washington Huskies – What an incredible season for the Huskies. To say they were one of the biggest surprises in the Pac 12 as well as the country would be an understatement. After a disappointing 7-6 season in 2015, they came out of the gate in 2016 with guns a blazing. The only slip up on the season was a 26-13 home loss to an inspired USC Trojans team that found itself late in the season.
The efficiency of the offense was highlighted by the fact they ranked #4 in the nation for scoring (44.5) without putting up huge offensive numbers passing or running the ball. The Huskies offense was led by the upstart Sophomore QB Jake Browning, who passed for 3,280 yards and 42 TDs (2nd in the nation) against only 7 interceptions. His emergence as a quality passer was directly responsible for the team’s turnaround.
If defenses dared to key on Browning, the rushing duo of Sophomore Myles Gaskin and Senior Lavon Coleman showed themselves to be more than capable of running through defenses. Together, they combined for 2,175 yards rushing and 17 TDs while wideouts Senior John Ross and Junior Dante Pettis combined for 1,921 yards receiving and 31 TDs.
It was also good to see material improvement on defense as well. The Huskies ended up ranked in the top 10 in the nation for both points allowed per game (17.2) and total yards allowed per game (316.2)
Alabama Crimson Tide – There are no surprises finding the #1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in the playoffs as the #1 seed. As the defending National Champions, they entered the season ranked on top and took it gate to wire. The fact they ended the season as the only undefeated team doesn’t even begin to tell the story of how dominate the Tide was all season long.
Here are some stats to help clarify exactly what transpired on the football field when Bama played. They finished the season ranked as the 13th-best scoring offense in the nation at 40.5 PPG. On defense, they ranked #1 for both points allowed per game (11.8) and total yards allowed per game (247.8). That’s an amazing scoring differential of 29.7 PPG.
Unlike Alabama teams of the past, the offense played without a bonafide star. That means each and every game was a total team effort with a large number of players making material contributions on the field. With true-Freshman QB Jalen Hurts (2,592 YP, 22 TDs, 9 interceptions) at the controls, they controlled the ball and took advantage of great field position, which was provided by that stingy defense.
Game Analysis: It might seem like an easy task to pick a winner in this game, but there is the matter of the betting odds, which sit at an overlaid 16.5 in favor of the Crimson Tide. It’s worth noting that the SEC was particularly weak this year. By all rights, Washington is by far the best team Alabama has played all year with all those weapons on offense.
The sport’s purist as sure to be excited by seeing the best defense in the nation lining up against a worthy offense that knows how to put points on the board. When making predictions against the spread, it always helps to look at the team laying a big number and try to peg how many points they should score in the game.
Therein lies the problem for Bama backers. Washington’s defense is good enough to limit Alabama to four touchdowns or 28 points. If they do that, Alabama has to limit one of the best scoring offenses in the country to less than 2 touchdowns. That’s highly unlikely to happen. The Huskies know how to take care of the ball and aren’t apt to take unnecessary risks unless they fall way behind, which is also an unlikely scenario. The feeling here is the number is simply too big to cover for an Alabama offense that hasn’t yet shown the ability to dominate a solid defense.
Predictions: Alabama is likely to win the game, but Washington is good enough to keep the game close with an outright win possible. Alabama 31 – Washington 28