Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Prediction, Alabama vs. Washington Game Preview, History, Scores
Three reasons why you should watch the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl between Alabama (13-0) and Washington (12-1), why each team might win, honest thoughts, line and prediction.
Date: Saturday, December 31st
Game Time: 3:00 pm
Venue: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
– Contact/Follow @PeteFiutak
Scroll down for the video preview and bowl history
The Bowl Matchup Ranking Of Awesomeness (1 best-40 worst): 2 out of 40
Three Reasons Why You Should Watch The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
– Because it’s the College Football Playoff. Duh. There aren’t any excuses this year. It’s on a Saturday, it’s early in the day so you can still get your groove on for New Year’s Eve, and it’s Alabama playing the early game. It’s the first game of the College Football Playoff, and while bowl games aren’t meaningless, this is finally a college football game that really and truly matters in the overall fabric of the world.
It’s the ascension of Washington into the elite again after being out of the national championship spotlight for over 25 years, while it might just be a coronation for a juggernaut of an Alabama team that some think could be Nick Saban’s best yet.
Again, it’s the College Football Playoff. This is when the fun kicks in.
– No players sitting this one out to get ready for the NFL. Granted, there’s an argument to be made that they should, but that’s for another time. No, this is the game for the NFL scouts to get even more tape and form more opinions on some of the biggest names in the upcoming draft.
At least five Alabama players are certain to go in the first round in April, and it could be more like seven, with a whole slew of future pro players taking up positions among the two-deep. Nick Saban has built a recruiting machine, and it’s going to show in the top 20.
But Washington has NFL guys, too. It doesn’t have the first round talent of the Crimson Tide, but at least five players should go in the top 50, WR John Ross is a next-level deep threat, and the defense has at least five future NFL starters.
Okay, so the Fiesta probably has just as many pro types rolling, but there’s a reason these two teams are in this game. It’s going to look and play a lot differently than the other bowls – obviously.
– Even if this game stinks, it’s going to be a show. Yeah, three of the first four College Football Playoff semifinals so far have been awful, with only Ohio State’s win over Alabama in the 2015 Sugar Bowl put into the classic file.
Oregon’s blowout over Florida State in the 2015 Rose was awful, and last season’s Clemson win over Oklahoma in the Orange and Alabama’s drubbing of Michigan State was instantly forgettable. But no matter what happens in this game, it might be the most interesting early-game semi-final year.
If Washington wins, it’s obviously historic. If it’s close, then it’s the best early semi-final by default, and even if Alabama destroys the Huskies, it’ll be amazing to watch the dismantling being applied by a special team.
With the Fiesta Bowl the main course, no matter how this turns out, it’ll be a tasty appetizer.
Here’s Why Alabama Will Win The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
– Alabama has more enormous human beings than Washington does. Every elite college football team has size, and some teams are bulky in key areas, but no one has more abnormally humongous young men who can also run than Alabama. While size doesn’t always matter, it might as the game goes on against a smallish – at least by comparison – Washington team.
Here in Atlanta, every single media member at the Washington practice had the exact same instant thought – how is this team possibly going to hold up? Alabama has a roster full of freakish football players, while Washington is lean, fast, and feisty. There’s plenty of talent on the Huskies, but if Alabama wants to go Wisconsin and just pound, pound, pound away on the lighter D, eventually that dam will break.
Alabama doesn’t have to get too funky offensively to win this.
– Washington’s best win this year was against … Colorado, who beat a fat load of no one. There’s a reason why Penn State’s resume was far better than Washington’s in the analysis, but didn’t turn out to matter in the final College Football Playoff discussion. The Huskies’ best win this year was that Pac-12 championship win over Colorado, which, again, didn’t beat anyone. Stanford? Okay, Idaho? Fine, it looks better now after the bowl season. Utah? It’s not like beating USC, which Washington didn’t, losing at home 26-13.
Yeah, Alabama blasted the Trojans in the opener, but that was a different USC team by November. In any event, Washington got in, but there really is a prove-it factor here. This might just be a great team that won in a mediocre year for the Pac-12. But now it has to face a phenomenal team – in a mediocre year for the SEC.
– The Washington running game isn’t going to work.
It just won’t.
Yeah, the Huskies had few problems rumbling against just about everyone – hitting the 199-yard mark nine times in the last 11 games of the year. Who stuffed the Dawgs? USC swarmed all over Myles Gaskin and crushed Jake Browning, allowing just 17 yards on 27 total carries with three sacks and six tackles for loss.
And that was USC.
Granted, the Trojans have a terrific D, but Alabama allowed more than 100 yards just twice – 101 against Ole Miss and 114 against Texas A&M – giving up just two yards per carry and giving up a mere three rushing scores on the year and none in the last six games.
And now the Alabama defense is rested and prepared.
Here’s Why Washington Will Win The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
– Alabama finally has to face a real, live quarterback again. Tennessee’s Joshua Dobbs is good, but he didn’t have any help around him in the ugly 49-10 loss to the Crimson Tide. Trevor Knight killed Alabama when he was with Oklahoma, but he ran into a buzzsaw in A&M’s loss. No, the Crimson Tide didn’t really face any high-octane quarterbacks outside of Chad Kelly of Ole Miss, who ripped it up for 421 yards and three scores.
So how did this work? How did the Rebels manage to come up with 43 points? How about Austin Allen, who threw for 400 yards and three scores in the 49-30 Bama win?
Those quarterbacks actually pushed the ball down the field.
Who was No. 1 in the SEC in yards per attempt? Allen. Who was No. 2? Kelly. Both of them averaged over eight yards per throw. Jake Browning averages 9.4 yards per pass.
Okay, fine. So Browning stunk against USC and Colorado – the only two above-average teams on the schedule – but he’s going to try stretching the field from the start. If he gets time, watch out.
– Chris Petersen is pretty good at this whole coaching thing. Remember, this is the guy who won two Fiesta Bowls with woefully undermanned Boise State teams, and this is the guy who went 84-8 and 5-2 in bowls before struggling in his final year with the Broncos.
Yeah, he’s known for throwing out the trick plays in key moments – especially in that 2007 Fiesta vs. Oklahoma – but that’s not giving him enough credit for knowing how to come up with great straight-up game plans with time to prepare.
How good is he in the really, really, really big games? Petersen is 5-0 in games where both teams are in the AP top ten. And this time around, he’s actually got a ton of NFL talent to bring to the battle.
– Against this Alabama team, turnover margin really, really matters. Alabama can turn the lights out in a hurry once the defense gets into a lather and starts forcing mistakes, but Washington doesn’t screw up. No. 1 in the nation in turnover margin, the Huskies only lost the turnover battle once – going a -1 against Utah – and finished a ridiculous +21 on the year.
There’s a reason the Huskies are here. That defense knows how to come up with the big plays, forcing 33 takeaways on the season with two or more in every game but that Utah win – it didn’t force any.
Alabama came up with 24 takeaways, but it’s good for around two giveaways a game against the better, more aggressive defenses like Washington’s.
To pull this off, the Huskies have to be at least a +2, and they’ve got to convert on every opportunity. And most importantly, they can’t give up any …
You’ve Read This Far, So You Get Three Honest Thoughts On The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
– NOTs. The Alabama defense has allowed just 15 touchdowns on the season, while the defensive and special teams have come up with 13 NOTs – non-offensive touchdowns. Alabama can win this without a NOT, but these tend to be the nail-in-coffin type of scores, and they always seem to come just when the other team thinks it might be getting back in the game.
– Lane Kiffin is being made out as a story, but he’s just not. Yeah, he’s the Florida Atlantic head coach, and yeah, he has to work on his new team while continuing to prepare for the College Football Playoff, but it won’t matter unless the offense completely goes into the tank.
The result will dictate what the narrative should’ve been.
Kirby Smart was just fine last season staying on as the defensive coordinator even as the Georgia head man, and Kiffin isn’t going to do anything to screw this up. If Alabama loses, or if the offense isn’t great, it’ll be because Washington’s defense had everything to do with it. This is still Nick Saban’s team.
– The problem of the mobile quarterback. Alabama destroys the pro-style passer types, but Johnny Manziel, Deshaun Watson, Trevor Knight – at least at Oklahoma – and Chad Kelly all ripped the Tide D to shreds. Browning isn’t a runner, but he can move enough to be dangerous.
On the flip side, how many truly mobile quarterbacks did Washington deal with this season. In terms of the dangerous runners, there was really just one – Arizona’s Brandon Dawkins.
All he did was take off for 176 yards as the Wildcats pushed the Huskies in a 35-28 overtime loss.
Can Jalen Hurts be that runner? When he’s needed to take off and take over the Alabama offense, he did it, ripping through Tennessee, and most importantly, against LSU. While he’ll need to throw well and limit the mistakes, the game could be as simple as whether or not the Washington defense can handle the power of the Bama line, and the slipperiness of Hurts.
Super. So Who’s Going To Win The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl?
Are we missing something here?
Are we going to look back late on New Year’s Eve and realize that there was something so obvious that we all didn’t see?
There’s absolutely nothing to suggest that Washington could and should make this interesting.
It’s not big enough, it’s not deep enough, it’s not deserving enough, and it’s not good enough to pull this off, but maybe Alabama blew through a bad SEC?
Maybe LSU showed what could happen when a great defense can keep it close against the Crimson Tide offense, or maybe Ole Miss showed something in the fearlessness of Chad Kelly to almost pull off the shocker.
Or maybe, you don’t think too hard about it, and everyone is right – Alabama pulls off another total destruction of a bowl performance like it did against Michigan State last season.
But 14 points are a whole bunch to give away in a College Football Playoff game to anyone.
Washington is playing with house money at this point, and it’s acting like it knows it.
This is a loose team that has the right intensity, but it certainly doesn’t appear to be nervous, worried, or intimidated in any way – and it’s about to play like it.
The word to use is plucky.
But the other word this week in Atlanta is process.
Washington will be plucky for three quarters, keeping Alabama from pulling away while limiting the big mistakes, but the offense won’t do enough make any sort of a big statement early on to take advantage of the opportunities.
The Alabama size will wear down U-Dub as the game goes on, and that’s when the running game will take over.
If you’re looking for a comp, think LSU. Alabama won’t be able to dominate, but it’ll seem like it’s in control the entire way.
Alabama 24, Washington 13
Alabama -14, o/u: 54
ATS Confidence: 2
5: Your New Year’s Eve chances to score in your favorite bar
0: Your New Year’s Eve chances to score after covering a College Football Playoff semifinal
Must See Rating: 5
5: New Year’s Eve: Defected In The House, Ministry of Sound, London
0: New Year’s Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Special Co-Host Kathy Griffin
Who’s going to win the 2017 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl? Check out the Alabama vs. Washington prediction, game preview, history and scores.
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl History, Results
Dec. 31, 2015 Houston 38 Florida State 24
Dec. 31, 2014 TCU 42 Mississippi 3
Dec. 31, 2013 Texas A&M 52 Duke 48
Dec. 31, 2012 Clemson 25 LSU 24
Dec. 31, 2011 Auburn 42 Virginia 23
Dec. 31, 2010 Florida State 26 South Carolina 17
Dec. 31, 2009 Virginia Tech 37 Tennessee 14
Dec. 31, 2008 LSU 38 Georgia Tech 3
Dec. 31, 2007 Auburn 23 Clemson 20 (OT)
Dec. 30, 2006 Georgia 31 Virginia Tech 24
Dec. 30, 2005 LSU 40 Miami 3
Dec. 31, 2004 Miami 27 Florida 10
Jan. 2, 2004 Clemson 27 Tennessee 14
Dec. 31, 2002 Maryland 30 Tennessee 3
Dec. 31, 2001 North Carolina 16 Auburn 10
Dec. 29, 2000 LSU 28 Georgia Tech 14
Dec. 30, 1999 Mississippi State 17 Clemson 7
Dec. 31, 1998 Georgia 35 Virginia 33
Jan. 2, 1998 Auburn 21 Clemson 17
Dec. 28, 1996 LSU 10 Clemson 7
Dec. 30, 1995 Virginia 34 Georgia 27
Jan. 1, 1995 N.C. State 28 Mississippi State 24
Dec. 31, 1993 Clemson 14 Kentucky 13
Jan. 2, 1993 North Carolina 21 Mississippi State 17
Jan. 1, 1992 East Carolina 37 N.C. State 34
Dec. 29, 1990 Auburn 27 Indiana 23
Dec. 30, 1989 Syracuse 19 Georgia 18
Dec. 31, 1988 N.C. State 28 Iowa 23
Jan. 2, 1988 Tennessee 27 Indiana 22
Dec. 31, 1986 Virginia Tech 25 N.C. State 24
Dec. 31, 1985 Army 31 Illinois 29
Dec. 31, 1984 Virginia 27 Purdue 24
Dec. 30, 1983 Florida State 28 North Carolina 3
Dec. 31, 1982 Iowa 28 Tennessee 22
Dec. 31, 1981 West Virginia 26 Florida 6
Jan. 2, 1981 Miami 20 Virginia Tech 10
Dec. 31, 1979 Baylor 24 Clemson 18
Dec. 25, 1978 Purdue 41 Georgia Tech 21
Dec. 31, 1977 N.C. State 24 Iowa State 14
Dec. 31, 1976 Kentucky 21 North Carolina 0
Dec. 31, 1975 West Virginia 13 N.C. State 10
Dec. 28, 1974 Texas Tech 6 Vanderbilt 6
Dec. 28, 1973 Georgia 17 Maryland 16
Dec. 29, 1972 N.C. State 49 West Virginia 13
Dec. 30, 1971 Mississippi 41 Georgia Tech 18
Dec. 30, 1970 Arizona State 48 North Carolina 26
Dec. 30, 1969 West Virginia 14 South Carolina 3
Dec. 30, 1968 LSU 31 Florida State 27