Washington vs. Alabama Peach Bowl: College Football Playoffs Spread

Ricky Rothstein | Updated Dec 06, 2016


The first national semifinal in the College Football Playoff features Pac-12 champion Washington, the No. 4 seed, against SEC champion and No. 1 Alabama as the Crimson Tide look to win repeat as national champions for the second time under Coach Nick Saban. Sports Interaction oddsmakers aren’t giving the Huskies much of a shot on New Year’s Eve in the Peach Bowl.


Washington Huskies vs. Alabama Crimson Tide

Point spread: Tide -16

Date: Saturday, Dec. 31, 3 p.m. ET

Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta

Washington Huskies

Coach Chris Petersen has done an amazing job in his three seasons at Washington as the Huskies (12-1) won their first Pac-12 Championship Game in school history with a 41-10 victory over No. 8 Colorado. UW needed a decisive victory to hold onto the No. 4 spot in the playoffs and did just that. Jake Browning threw for two scores and Myles Gaskin rushed for 159 yards. Joe Ross caught a TD pass. It was UW’s first conference title since 2000.

The Huskies’ offensive triplets of Browning, Gaskin and Ross are as good as any team’s in the country, helping lead Washington to the No. 4 scoring offense (44.5 ppg), and I’m frankly surprised that Browning wasn’t named a Heisman Trophy finalist. He was the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year and has thrown for 3,280 yards and 42 touchdowns (second in the nation). Gaskin has rushed for 1,339 yards and 10 scores, and Ross has caught 76 passes for 1,122 yards and 17 touchdowns (second nationally). The Tide have been burned by the pass at times this season.

Washington also has one of the country’s best defenses, allowing just 316 yards and 17.2 points per game. However, if you go by one common opponent, things don’t look good for the Huskies. Their only loss was on Nov. 12 against USC, 26-13, and it really wasn’t that close in Seattle. The Trojans had 400 yards of offense and held UW to 276, including 17 rushing on 27 attempts. Alabama opened its season against USC in Arlington, Texas, and embarrassed the Trojans 52-6. The Tide had 465 yards of offense and USC 194. To be fair, the Trojans made a quarterback change not longer after that loss and were a vastly better team when they faced Washington than in Week 1.


Alabama Crimson Tide

What more can you say about Saban’s dynastic program? Saban might well be the greatest coach in NCAA history once his career is finished. He is looking to win a sixth national championship overall and fifth at Alabama. The Tide are trying to repeat for the second time this decade, also doing so in the 2011-12 seasons.

This year’s team might be Saban’s best. The Tide (13-0) opened the season atop the polls and never left that spot. They really were only challenged once, a 48-43 victory at Ole Miss on Sept. 17. The Rebels led that game 24-3 at one point in the second quarter before Alabama woke up.

Every other Alabama win this year has been by at least 10 points (LSU did put up a good fight in 10-0 loss). Bama just crushed No. 15 Florida 54-16 in the SEC Championship Game. Freshman QB Jalen Hurts looks like a future Heisman candidate. And there are several eventual NFL players on this roster, especially on defense. Lineman Jonathan Allen could be the top pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Alabama leads the nation in scoring defense (11.8 ppg) and against the rush (63.4 ypg). That unit is giving up just 2.0 yards per rush this season, the best single-season average by any Power 5 team in a decade. Oh, and Alabama’s defense is sometimes a great offense. The Tide have a whopping 14 non-offensive touchdowns this year (10 on defense). They had defensive and special TDs in the SEC title game.

Peach Bowl Prediction

Petersen has joked that he would like his team to scrimmage the NFL’s Seahawks to get ready for Alabama. I’m not so sure the Tide wouldn’t give the Cleveland Browns a tough game. I can’t see Washington pulling the upset here, but I also believe the SEC was a bit down this year so maybe Alabama isn’t THAT good. I recommend taking UW on the 17.5-point alternate line at -141. But the Tide advance to the Jan. 9 national title game in Tampa, Fla.