It’s bowl season in college football but all eyes are on the College Football Playoff semifinal games, including the Peach Bowl.
No. 1 Alabama faces No. 4 Washington in Atlanta for the right to play for the national championship in the third ever playoff at the FBS level.
The Crimson Tide are aiming for their fifth title in eight years under Nick Saban. Washington’s last national championship came at the end of the 1991 season.
Dec. 31, 2016: 3 PM ET
Jalen Hurts, QB — Alabama
Jonathan Allen, DT — Alabama
O.J. Howard, TE — Alabama
Hurts is the best dual-threat QB Washington will face all season and if he doesn’t turn over the ball could be the MVP of this contest in runaway fashion.
Allen is the best of a terrific front seven for Alabama, perhaps ending up the No. 1 overall pick in April’s NFL Draft. He requires constant double-teams, allowing inside ‘backer Reuben Foster to gobble up tackles and occasionally blitz.
Howard may be an X-Factor for Alabama on the offensive side of the ball. Washington will be without linebacker Azeem Victor due to injury, leaving freshman D.J. Beavers in some situations where his three games of experience create coverage mistakes.
Jake Browning, QB — Washington
Levon Coleman, RB — Washington
Coleman Shelton, C — Washington
Browning is the most important player in this game for the Huskies and his play may dictate more than any other whether or not Washington has a shot to upset the Crimson Tide.
When he’s been off his game the Huskies have had to lean heavily on their running game. That works just fine in the Pac-12. It will not versus Alabama. Browning has to play well or this will turn into a route in a hurry.
If the sophomore can get the ball to John Ross and Dante Pettis early and often, this will be a fun game.
Coleman isn’t the designated starter at running back for the Dawgs, but on occasional Myles Gaskin is bottled up and Coleman is among the best ‘No. 2’ backs in the country. He’s also a solid receiver and the bigger of the two main ball carriers and if the Huskies plan to get anything versus Alabama’s run defense, the combo of size and speed may be their best shot.
Shelton, and one of the two starting guards, will be responsible for trying to contain Allen. Shelton also is responsible for making the line calls and helping Browning with any audibles at the line of scrimmage. He cannot make mistakes in this game or one of the ‘Bama’s half-dozen future first-round picks on defense will take advantage.