No. 4 Washington Huskies (12-1 SU, 7-6 ATS) vs. No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (13-0 SU, 9-4 ATS)
College Football Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl Preview
Date/Time: Saturday December 31st, 2016. 3:00PM (EST)
Where: Georgia Dome Atlanta, G.A.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: WASH +16/ALA -16
Over/Under Total: 54.4
The opening semifinal College Football Playoff contest will feature the no. 4 Washington Huskies and the top ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in this year’s Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl which will take play on December 31st at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The stakes are rather simple. Lose and the season is over with some sort of acceptance for being among the 4 best teams in college football. Win and well then you get to play for the best prize in football in the National Championship Game. Alabama just has the opportunity to make that dream come true for a 2nd straight season as they have yet to be unbeaten since claiming last year’s title. As a result, Alabama will be rather large 16 point favorites when they go to war with the Huskies inside the Georgia Dome.
Washington was the successor of a controversial race to garnish the no. 4 seed in this year’s College Football Playoffs. There were some arguments that the 10-2 Penn State Nittany Lions should have somehow jumped the one loss Huskies while some were also making cases for Michigan and Oklahoma. However, I don’t think there was ever a legitimate argument to keep Washington out of the playoff picture. They had a great year going 12-1 SU with wins over 4 ranked teams. Not to mention, they completely destroyed a 10-2 SU Colorado team in the Pac-12 Championship Game 41-10. To be completely fair, this Washington team is armed with the weapons to challenge anyone in the country and that includes Alabama.
The Huskies have been an offensive juggernaut with a trio of talent that has produced the 4th best scoring attack in the FBS averaging 44 points per game. Only once has this team been held to less than 30 points and that was in their 26-13 to a USC team that ended the season ranked 9th in the final polls. Despite Alabama’s defensive prowess, Washington can still make this a very challenging game for the Crimson Tide. Quarterback Jake Browning has been sensational completing 63% passing for 3,280 yards with 42 touchdowns and 7 picks. Running back Myles Gaskin has produced 1,339 yards with 10 touchdowns and WR John Ross has corralled 76 catches for 1,122 yards and 17 touchdowns. The offense has plenty of other talented weapons as well in Lavon Coleman and Dante Pettis to challenge the Crimson Tide at every given moment.
I know people are banking on Alabama’s defense to shut this offense down. On paper, Alabama’s defensive stats are second to none. They are the number 1 defense overall, in scoring, and against the run. They have produced the most defensive touchdowns out of any team in the FBS and they consistently force big time turnovers to help out the offense. With all that being said, the one vulnerable spot that Alabama has is against the pass. We have seen Ole Miss and Chad Kelly attack this Alabama defense over the last few years with great success. I expect that to be the case in this game as Browning continuously test Alabama down the field.
Alabama’s offense will also be test against a pretty solid Washington defense. The Huskies own the 9th best scoring defense yielding just 17.2 points per game. Quarterback Jalen Hurts has played really well down the stretch and that will be critical towards Alabama’s repeat efforts. Hurts has completed 65% passing this season for 2,592 yards with 22 scores and 9 picks while adding 841 yards with 12 additional touchdowns on the ground. Alabama’s wide outs ArDarius Stewart and Calvin Ridley will have some opportunities on the outside in battles they need to win.
Ultimately this game will come down to turnovers at least in terms of the against the spread mark. I think Alabama is so dominate in the trenches that it is going to be extremely tough for Washington to win this game even if they are successful throwing the football down the field. However, I think the turnover war will be very critical. Alabama’s defense is excellent at forcing turnovers and so are the Huskies. The Huskies actually lead the FBS with 33 takeaways and Alabama has given up 19 to opposing teams. If the Huskies can win the turnover margin, I believe they will impress everyone in this opportunistic matchup.
Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Take Washington +16
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