By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
On December 31, 2016 at 12:51 pm EST
On Saturday afternoon, #4 Washington Huskies faces #1 Alabama Crimson Tide in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga. The game will be on ESPN at 3 pm EST.
This game is a part of the New Year’s Six. In addition, it is one of the two College Football Playoff semifinal games.
The Huskies are 12-1, while the Crimson Tide are 13-0. Both teams are 5-0 on the road this season.
“What I’ve learned about this game is your mindset of: Is this a bowl game or is this a playoff game?” Alabama head coach Nick Saban told reporters. “I think every player has to decide for himself (and) every coach has to decide for himself because we are trying to create a balance for everyone in our organization because it is a playoff game.”
Alabama is 2-0 in neutral site games. They defeated the Florida Gators in the Southeastern Conference Championship game on Dec. 3., which also took place at the Georgia Dome.
They also defeated the USC Trojans to begin the season at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Washington is 1-0 in neutral site games. They defeated the Colorado Buffaloes in the Pac-12 Conference Championship game on Dec. 2 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
The Huskies are 1-10-1 all-time vs. Associated Press No. 1 ranked teams. They won the 1961 Rose Bowl over the Minnesota Golden Gophers for their lone win.
This is the second meeting all-time between these two teams. Alabama won 28-6 on Dec. 25, 1986.
The Crimson Tide are 37-24-3 in their previous 64 bowl games. They won their last two bowl games, including last year’s College Football Playoff Semifinal over the Michigan State Spartans and the College Football Playoff National Championship game over the Clemson Tigers.
They have not lost a bowl game since Jan. 1, 2015 when they lost 42-35 to the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Sugar Bowl. This was one of the two inaugural College Football Playoff semifinals in 2014.
Alabama has played in all three College Football Playoffs. Washington and the Pac-12 Conference are making their first appearance.
This is the first-time Alabama will be playing a bowl game in the Georgia Dome. When Alabama played in the SEC Conference Championship game, they are 7-4 overall.
Their last loss in the Georgia Dome came in the 2008 SEC Conference Championship game when the #1 Crimson Tide lost 31-20 to the #2 Florida Gators, who were led by Tim Tebow.
Washington is 18-17-1 in their previous 36 bowl games. They won their last bowl game against the Southern Miss. Golden Eagles 44-31 in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl on Dec. 26, 2015.
They have not lost a bowl game since being drafted 30-22 to the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the TicketCity Catcus Bowl on Jan. 2, 2015.
Washington has won their last three games. They have not lost a game since losing 26-13 to the Trojans on Nov. 12.
Alabama has won their last 25 games. They have not lost a game since Sept. 19, 2015 when they lost 43-37 to the Ole Miss Rebels.
“I wouldn’t say joyless existence. That’s just the mindset you’ve got to have if you want to be great and have a legendary legacy,” Crimson Tide senior defensive end Jonathan Allen said. “If you want to do that, you have to have that relentlessness to your work ethic and your grind.
“Thinking about last year’s national championship isn’t going to help us get this one.”
The Crimson Tide defense has 10 defensive touchdowns. They returned 10 interceptions for scores. In addition, they returned five fumble returns for touchdowns.
The Huskies have committed 12 turnovers all season. They had seven interceptions and lost five fumbles.
“We’ve done a good job of taking care of the ball so far this year, but none of that really matters if you turn around and have three turnovers in this game,” Washington quarterback Jake Browning said. “We’ve got to take care of the ball like we have been, have some explosive plays and execute at a high level.”
Browning leads the Huskies attack with 3,280 passing yards. He has 42 touchdown passes and seven interceptions.
“He’s still a work in progress,” Washington coach Chris Petersen said. “We all are. And I think that’s probably the best thing about him is that he’s really hungry to try to master this position if that’s possible.”
Myles Gaskin has 1,339 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. John Ross has 1,122 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns.
“Going in, I thought they were just a pass-happy team,” Allen said. “But when you look at it, I’d say they kind of favor the run more. That’s definitely a challenge. But as a defensive lineman, I’m excited about it. I love to go against teams that like to run the ball.”
Jalen Hurts leads the Crimson Tide attack with 2,592 passing yards. He has 22 touchdown passes and nine interceptions.
“I’m a firm believer in age being nothing but a number,” the 18-year-old Hurts said. “And I feel like if you step up to any situation and you’re able to play your game, be confident, have the poise you need to have, you’ll be all right.”
Damien Harris has 986 rushing yards and two touchdowns. ArDarius Stewart has 852 passing yards and eight touchdowns.
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