WHO: No. 4 Washington (12-1) vs. No. 1 Alabama (13-0)
WHAT: The College Football Playoff at the 49th Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
WHEN: 3 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Georgia Dome, Atlanta
THE SKINNY: This game, no matter the result, will be viewed as a referendum on Washington, but it’s not. This game is about Alabama. It’s always about Alabama.
The Tide have yet to lose in the Jalen Hurts era so any supposed blueprint on how to beat Alabama with the talented freshman at the helm is purely a theory at this point, but the theory begins with making Hurts uncomfortable and forcing him into mistakes. And on that front, there is no more dangerous opponent possible.
Washington forced 33 turnovers through their first 13 games, a full four takeaways ahead of their next closest competitors. The Huskies claimed 19 interceptions, fourth most in FBS, and hopped on 14 of their 27 forced fumbles. They’re also proficient at getting after the quarterback, registering 37 sacks on the season.
But on that front, Washington faces its worst nightmare in Alabama. The Tide rank third nationally with 45 sacks, place fifth with 105 tackles for loss and lead the nation by a country mile in rushing defense (63.4 yards per game allowed) and yards per carry (2.03).
In Washington’s one loss — the one time Chris Petersen‘s team faced Alabama-like talent — the Huskies mustered only 53 yards on 19 true rushes and Jake Browning managed to complete just 17-of-36 passes for 259 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions while enduring three sacks in a 26-13 loss to USC.
THE PICK: Alabama 31, Washington 21