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2016 College Football Playoff Semifinal: Peach Bowl Preview

2016 College Football Playoff

(David Goldman/AP Photo)

The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl will feature 4th ranked Washington vs. #1 Alabama to determine who will play for a National Championship. (David Goldman, AP)

Is Alabama unbeatable? That is the question that everyone wants to know as the college football playoff is set to kick off. Top-ranked Alabama will face a tough test as they square off against Washington in the Peach Bowl. The winner will earn the right to play for a National Championship. What are the keys to the game for each team in order to secure a victory? Get your popcorn ready! What better way to kick off the new year than with some exciting college football action.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl:

Saturday, January 31st, 2016 – 3:00 E.T.

Why Alabama Will Win:

Alabama comes into the Peach Bowl at 13-0 as Nick Saban posts his most talented team yet. (Marvin Gentry/Reuters Wall Street Journal)
  1. Nick Saban Has Been Here Before

It’s tough to bet against Nick Saban when he has a month to prepare for a game. Saban is one of the best college football coaches in the history of the sport. He has also built a pretty nice staff full of assistants as well. Lane Kiffin, the team’s offensive coordinator, is a former NFL head coach and a terrific play caller. Following the season Kiffin will be the new head coach at Florida Atlantic. They also have former USC head coach Steve Sarkisian on the staff who will serve as the offensive coordinator next season who is a terrific offensive mind himself. Head coach Nick Saban, of course, is a defensive mastermind in his own right. He deserves credit for building the best defense college football has seen in a long time. It would be silly to bet against a coach who has 5 National Championships right? Is Washington even one of the four best teams in the country? Probably not. Think about this for a second Alabama defeated USC 52-6. USC defeated Washington 26-13. How in the world does Washington even belong in this game?

2. The Crimson Tide Represent College Football’s Best Defense

As many as 5 first round picks could come from the Alabama defense alone. There are so many great players on this defense. The bulk of that talent comes from the front 7. Jonathan Allen has been the most productive defensive tackle in the country. Allen, a sure fire top 5 pick, has recorded 10 sacks, 12 hits, and 38 hurries so far this year. Pass rusher Tim Williams will likely get picked within the top 15 selections in the 2017 Draft as well. Williams has been a destructive force to opposing offenses this year recording a pass-rushing productivity of 19.0 ranking 2nd of any 3-4 outside linebacker. (The only player who ranks better in the country is Washington’s Joe Mathis who will miss the game due to injury). Teammate Ryan Anderson takes a ton of pressure off of Williams that makes it impossible to double team. Anderson has 51 total quarterback pressures this season and has a chance to sneak into the late first round discussion. Inside linebacker Reuben Foster is the heart of the Alabama defense. This should come to no surprise as he fits that mold of Dont’a Hightower and C.J. Mosely that preceded him at Alabama. Foster has a chance to be the best of any Saban coached linebacker who could find himself selected in the top 10. I haven’t even gotten to Marlon Humphrey who is a first round corner or the rest of the studs such as Minkah Fitzpatrick, Eddie Jackson, Dalvin Tomlinson, etc. The Crimson Tide have recorded 11 defensive touchdowns on the season which is 2 more than the entire South Carolina offense. Seriously I could write a book on each of these players, they are all that good. There is a reason star tailback Leonard Fournette only rushed for 35 yards on 17 carries against this defense.

3. Alabama Finally Has A Productive Quarterback

Quarterback Jalen Hurts has been the real secret to the Crimson Tide’s dominance in 2016. The true Freshman sensation is far from the typical Bama signal caller. All season long Hurts has been able to beat teams with his legs as well as creating big plays over the top to Calvin Ridley and ArDarius Stewart. He has completed 74 percent of his throws which is phenomenal for a true freshman playing in the heart of the SEC. That isn’t to say the rest of the Alabama isn’t good either. Tight End O.J. Howard has the chance to be the next Antonio Gates. Bama hasn’t had their workhorse running back but they do have a nice trio of Damien Harris, Joshua Jacobs, and Bo Scarbrough who average an absurd 4.2 yards after contact.


Why Washington Will Win:

Jake Browning needs to play the game of his life in order to pull off the impossible (Ted S. Warren AP)
  1. Chris Petersen Has Pull Off Big Upsets In The Past

Let’s be serious for a second. Washington has no chance at winning this game period. However, that doesn’t mean Chris Petersen and Washington can’t put up a fight and at least cover the 14 point spread. Petersen coached Boise State from 2006-2013 pulling off miraculously upsets along the way. Remember the statue of liberty play in a shocking win over Oklahoma? Yep, that was this guy’s play calling. There could be some trick plays thrown into this game as a way of trying to rattle Bama. This is a really young team. They will be playing this game like they have nothing to lose. Sometimes those are the teams that give unbeatable teams the most trouble.

2. Washington Has Success With Big Plays

If you’re going to beat a team like Alabama, you better be able to throw the ball down the field. These spread option quarterbacks often times give Bama the most trouble. Look no further than Jake Browning as the sophomore signal caller has thrown for 42 touchdowns and 7 picks on the season. Browning throws a nice deep ball and is one of the most effective throwers down the field. He also has a pair of dependable targets on the outside. Dante Pettis averages 15.9 yards per catch while John Ross averages 14.7. Ross, in particular, is a spitting image of DeSean Jackson when you watch him play. He will probably get picked during the latter half of the first round. When speaking of the Alabama defense giving up huge passing yards seems to be their one Achilles heal. Bama’s top corner has been sensational all season but he has given up 16.8 yards per pass completed against him. The real key, however, will probably be the success of their runningbacks Myles Gaskins and Lavon Coleman rushing against a formidable defensive front.

3. Washington Has A Very Shiny Secondary

Jalen Hurts could have trouble throwing the ball in this one. The Huskies feature Sidney Jones and Budda Baker in their secondary. Both players will get taken in the top 2 rounds of the draft this upcoming year. Calvin Ridley might be taken out of the game. Baker could really be the difference in the routes in the middle of the field. If the Huskies can get pressure on Jalen Hurts it could really limit Alabama’s ability to score. Hurts has been one of the worst quarterbacks facing pressure. Facing pressure the Alabama quarterback has only completed 33.3 percent of his throws with a passer rating of 40.7. Turning Bama into a one-dimensional offense should be Washington’s first goal.

The Bottom Line:

This may be an unpopular pick but I’m taking Alabama to win this game by a wide margin. I’m not a believer in Washington who plays in an inferior Pac 12 conference. The Pac 12 runner Colorado just got smoked 38-8 by Oklahoma State in their Bowl game. It is the most over rated conference annually. Washington is a solid team who is probably a year away from truly being a championship contender. They just aren’t a real match for an Alabama team that features NFL talent across the board.

Alabama defeats Washington 44-10

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