Alabama (13-0) vs Washington (12-1)
The first semi-final playoff game features perennial contender, and media darlings, Alabama against the most surprising member of this year’s playoffs, Washington. In only his second season Chris Petersen seems to be working the same magic he worked at Boise State. He’ll need it today against a supremely talented Alabama team.
When Alabama Has The Ball: Jalen Hurd was a great story for the Crimson Tide this year. The freshman quarterback managed to make exciting plays throughout the year, and timely ones when Alabama needed them the most. Interestingly Alabama doesn’t have a single offensive player over the 1000 yard mark. Defensively Washington doesn’t have a whole lot of stand out players, although the led the Pac-12 in all phases of team defense. The Huskies defense is a team defense and that is the type of defense that might struggle against the superior athleticism of Alabama.
When Washington Has The Ball: Jake Browning is the best quarterback Alabama will face all year. He’s also the best quarterback in the nation. John Ross is one of the better receivers and could give Alabama’s defensive backs trouble, assuming Browning has time to get him the ball. Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman offer a nice 1-2 punch at running back but no one really runs on Alabama. Jonathan Allen and company will look to take away the run and force Washington to beat them with a one dimensional offense, like they do to everyone else.
Analysis: This is the sort of game that Chris Petersen can win. He is a far superior tactical coach than Saban, by necessity and design, and will likely have found a way to help Browning be more productive. He’ll also stick in a few gimmick plays that could extend some drives and help Washington add a few points. Ultimately, the talent differential at Alabama is probably too much to ignore, unless Jalen Hurts has an off game, in which case Washington could pull the upset.
Prediction: Alabama 34 Washington 23