Publish Date: 12/30/2016
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa
(4)Washington Huskies vs. (1) Alabama Crimson Tide
If you listen to the so-called experts, this game is a forgone conclusion. As Lee Corso would say “Not so fast.” The Washington Huskies are a very balanced fast team, the likes Alabama has not seen this year. Let’s look at the keys to this game.
Jalen Hurts vs. Jake Browning
These are two of the best young quarterbacks in college football. The questions for these guys are different, for Browning the question will be can he handle the pressure that Alabama will put on him? For Jalen Hurts is can he complete passes against an excellent Huskie secondary? This game could very well come down to which QB makes the fewest mistakes.
Alabama’s defensive front is unquestionably the best in the nation and has controlled the line of scrimmage en route to a 13-0 record. The Huskies have one of the better offensive lines in the Pac-12 and have limited opposing defenses to just 21 sacks through 13 games. Three players – Jake Eldrenkamp, Trey Adams, and Coleman Shelton – earned postseason All-Pac-12 honors. However, this unit played poorly in Washington’s only loss by giving up six tackles for a loss and three sacks against USC. The Huskies also had trouble against another excellent front seven Colorado who generated six tackles for a loss and two sacks in the Pac-12 Championship. If they struggled with USC and Colorado, imagine what the Tide could do to them?
Alabam ranked fourth nationally recording 45 sacks and tied for sixth by generating 105 tackles for a loss. Additionally, Alabama ranked first nationally against the run by limiting opponents to just 63.4 rushing yards per game. End Jonathan Allen and linebacker Reuben Foster are two of the best in the nation. Foster and Allen aren’t the only studs up front for the Tide, as sophomore Da’Ron Payne anchors the interior of the line, and linebacker Tim Williams spells big trouble for opposing offenses off the edge.
Alabama doesn’t have the standout running back like it has in the past, but Saban’s team has three talented runners. Damien Harris (983 yards) is the team’s lead back, while Joshua Jacobs (6.64 ypc) is a one to watch in the next future, and Bo Scarbrough (539 yards) got stronger over the course of the season. Washington’s defense isn’t as stout as Alabama’s was against the run, but this unit still ranked 19th nationally (123.5 ypg) in rush defense. Despite missing two standouts in the front seven – linebacker Azeem Victor and end/linebacker Joe Mathis – the Huskies have surrendered only 3.5 yards per carry. The Crimson Tide’s offensive line features two great tackles in Jonah Williams and Cam Robinson, and these two anchored a ground attack that generated 5.7 yards per rush. If Washington can stop the run and force Hurts to beat them, they may have a shot at an enormous upset.
I think the Huskies will limit the Crimson Tide’s ability to run the ball. So, I believe that this game falls on Hurt’s shoulders and with that being said I do not think he wins the game with his arm. He will win it with his feet, in a close one. Alabama 31 Washington 24