Peach Bowl Pick

203
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Peach Bowl

College Football Playoff Pick

Washington

vs.

Alabama

12/31/16

The College Football Playoff is finally here as Alabama aims to win its 26th-straight Game with a semifinal victory over Washington. The spread has moved around plenty in the first couple weeks and the Crimson Tide were at -14.5 point favorites about 10 days before the Game as seen at 5Dimes Sportsbook for the Peach Bowl in Atlanta.

It was another run-of-the-mill season for Alabama, going undefeated and beating up teams due to superior offensive and defensive lines. Their biggest challenges came against teams that could either Scorea bunch (Ole Miss) or teams that had top defenses (LSU). If a team had neither, it likely resulted in a route ranging from the 52-6 win over USC, 51-3 over Miss. State or 54-16 over Florida in the SEC title Game.

It wasn’t as pretty of a season for Washington, but there’s no denying the Huskies deserve to be here. While their non-Conference slate was rather weak, they handled most Pac-12 teams including a 44-6 win over Stanford, 45-17 over in-state rival Wazzu and 41-10 over Colorado in the Conference title Game. The Huskies fell to USC 26-13, which showed some flaws and is one of the main reasons anyone is backing Alabama in this matchup.

As said above, Alabama has been too much in the trenches for any opponent. Starting on the offensive side, the only team to really challenge the Tide was LSU as the Tigers stopped ‘Bama to just 10 points. Still, the Tide ran for 216 yards in that Game and LSU never threatened due to a suspect offense. Washington’s defense has good numbers, but hasn’t seen a dominant force like this all season and it wouldn’t be surprising if Alabama had another 200-plus rushing yards. Whether it’s elusive quarterback Jalen Hurts (841 rushing yards, 12 TDs) or running back Damien Harris (986 yards), the Crimson Tide have the talent to once again dominate on the ground.

Then there’s still the passing Game with receivers ArDarius Stewart (852 yards, 8 TDs), Calvin Ridley (727 yards) and O.J. Howard catching passes from Hurts. Hurts hasn’t been amazing as a passer, but he’s still completing 65.3% of his passes for 22 TDs and just nine picks. That’s good enough for this team. The Huskies have shown up against good offenses down the stretch holding Wazzu and Colorado to 27 combined points, but Alabama is on another level.

The same can be said on the other side of the field as Alabama has one of the most dominant defenses led by end Jonathan Allen, who’s expected to be a nuisance all Game. The last time UW played a team as talented as Alabama, they lost to USC. Covering this Game will largely depend on quarterback Jake Browning as Bama’s weakness is in pass defense (if you had to pick a weakness). Browning has incredible numbers this season with 42 TD and 7 INTs to go with 9.29 yards per attempt. However, there were some slip-ups against good defenses throughout the year. against Utah and USC, he managed just three TDs and three picks. And while they beat Colorado by 31 points, Browning went just 9-of-24 for 118 yards. If Browning can’t produce at a higher rate against a good defense, it will be tough not only for the Huskies to win, but also cover.

Of course, Washington has a great running Game between Myles Gaskin (1,339 yards, 10 TDs) and LAvon Coleman (836 yards, 7.8 yards per carry), but this defensive front is an immovable force. Just look at the times ‘Bama faced a good rushing attack such as LSU’s. In the Games that Gaskin couldn’t find running room, the Huskies scored 13 points against USC. That’s why Browning is so important in this matchup, as is stud receiver John Ross (1,122 yards 17 TDs). If those two can connect, this one may be closer than some think. But while this spread is high, it’s extremely difficult to bet against Alabama right now.

The Huskies are 6-1 ATS in their last seven non-Conference Games and have covered in their last Four December Games. The Crimson Tide are 13-4 ATS vs. a team with a winning record, 5-2 ATS in their last seven non-Conference Games and 13-6 ATS in their last 19 neutral-site Games.

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