Photo via Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America
Who: Washington vs. Alabama
When: 3 PM EST Saturday, December 31
Where: Georgia Dome— Atlanta, GA
Fans all across the nation (except in Alabama) have been wishing that Bama would finally fall this year, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. Many have been saying that Saban’s team this year is his best yet. He’s got a team that has been an inexorable force, and if Washington doesn’t think of savvy ways to stem the tide (pun intended) they’ll be crushed.
Washington hasn’t been tested by a team like Alabama all year. I’m by no means saying that Washington is a bad team—this might be their best team ever, and they’ve proven themselves to be worthy of a top-5 ranking, but it is more of a testament to Alabama. However, being the best Washington team ever doesn’t guarantee they can compete with an Alabama defense that can dominate any front they play.
Washington’s solace, if it’s possible at all, will come from their pass game. Browning is a great quarterback with a lot of potential—averaging 9.4 yards per pass…but that will probably not be enough?
Washington’s defense will also be important if the Huskies want to stay in the game. They’re great at forcing turnovers, but against a fundamentally sound team in Bama, they might not get the chance.
Jalen Hurts might start out slow giving Washington the chance to force an early turnover (Washington leads FBS in turnover margin and total turnovers). Therefore, Hurts will have to be extra careful to keep his hands on the ball as he goes down, as well as to not throw errant passes possibly leading to interceptions.
I think this is going to be a repeat of last year’s semis, where the Tide ripped into Michigan State. Simply put, Alabama is a much better team. It would be surprising if Washington loses by less than 14—of course, anything is possible in a bowl game, and secretly I’m hoping my prediction is wrong. However, Alabama is going to come out on top like they do almost every season. In reality, this is just a tune-up game for Alabama before they play in the National Championship game.