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It’s New Years Eve and with it comes the long await college football playoffs. The first game on the slate today is the Washington Huskies taking on the Alabama Crimson Tide in the number one seed versus number four see game at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta, Georgia. This is quite the match-up, but it is considered to be the most inevitable one as well as Alabama is an overwhelming favorite to once again win the National Championship.
Alabama was 13-0 during the regular season and had a shockingly low 11.8 points per game allowed on the season. There were only two games this season that they allowed over 30 points and the rest of them saw the opposing team score 16 points or less. That is dominance. Their defense is filled to the brim with NFL prospects and they are a truly scary team. They topped off that defense with an offense that scored 40.5 points per game with a well-rounded attack led by freshman QB Jalen Hurts who has already rushed for more yards than any other quarterback on a Nick Saban coached team. This team is scary and are -14 favorites for good reason.
Washington has a very impressive season as well and definitely deserves their place in the playoffs. They were 12-1 on the season and averaged 44.5 points per game on offense. Led by sophmore Jake Browning, one of the best QBs in the country, the Washington offense went to another level this season and really put a hurting on teams. He threw 40 TDs and just 7 INTs this season and he is definitely the key to this game for the Huskies. A good game from him and they have a chance. A bad one and it’s Roll Tide all over again.
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There are a lot of analysts out there who feel like the result of this game is a foregone conclusion. The defense of Alabama is just that good and the offensive line of Washington won’t be able to protect Jake Browning enough for him to do anything to hurt them. On the surface, this seems very true but there are weaknesses in Alabama’s game and Washington feels like they are equipped to exploit them.
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The key for them will be the long ball. Jake Browning has excelled at the long ball this season and that is the one weakness in Alabama’s outstanding defense. The game against Ole Miss where they allowed 43 points was an outlier this season, but Ole Miss completed six deep balls in that game and Washington will need to do the same if they hope to compete. With John Ross, Dante Pettis, and Chico McClatcher at receiver, Washington has three players that are super fast that can stretch the field.
Washington’s defense will need to play a role as well here as pressuring Jalen Hurts is tantamount. He had an outstanding season, but really struggled when he was pressured. The key for Washington will be to keep him from running and making him throw under pressure. That will be the key to turnovers which Washington actually had more of than Alabama did this season.
Honestly, this line just feels way too high for what’s at stake and the quality of these two teams. I’m not necessarily ready to go moneyline on this one (although that would be very profitable at +460), I am ready to go with Washington +14. Alabama is great, but the SEC as a whole is overrated and the Huskies should be Bama’s toughest opponent to date.