It will be Alabama vs. Washington for the 2016 Peach Bowl as the two teams collide in the College Football Playoffs semifinals. Both teams were able to emerge victorious in their matchups this past Saturday, leading to this epic clash in NCAA football. There has been some controversy over the Huskies’ inclusion in a playoff spot as well. Nonetheless, they will be representing the Pac-12 against the toughest team in the nation. The latest game odds have also been released ahead of the two teams’ impending battle, so how close are the sports odds makers thinking this matchup will be?
In this past weekend’s action, the Alabama Crimson Tide faced their conference rivals the Florida Gators for the 2016 SEC Championship. According to ESPN, this game was an absolute romp, as Alabama prevailed 54-16. In the first half alone, they scored off an interception and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown en route to 33 points. There were also points put up on the offensive side which is exactly what makes this team the top squad in the nation.
The opposing Gators had nowhere near enough offensive firepower to keep up in a lopsided matchup. Nick Sabana’s Alabama team was led by the all-around contributions of quarterback Jalen Hurts, as well as running backs Bo Scarborough and Damien Harris. Hurts finished with 138 yards and one touchdown pass on 11-for-20 completed passes. Scarborough and Harris combined for 177 yards on the ground, with the former scoring twice.
As with other recent college playoff or rankings decisions, there is once again controversy. The Washington Huskies seem to be the team that is controversial in terms of this year’s four selections. There had been some analysts that believe that the Penn State Nittany Lions deserved the fourth spot. However, according to USA Today, committee chairman Kirby Hocutt said that their overall resume had what was necessary to qualify them for the playoffs.
Hocutt spoke about Washington’s selection for a playoff spot in recent comments he made.
“The strength of schedule of Washington has been a concern for this selection committee. But what we talked about this morning was the quality wins Washington has this year. They’ve played good teams and they’ve beaten good teams.”
In Friday’s action, the Huskies gained entry into the playoffs by also routing their conference opponents. Washington defeated a tough Colorado Buffaloes team 41-10 to earn this season’s Pac-12 title, according to Sports Illustrated. While their leader on the field has been typically the quarterback, in their latest win, he didn’t need as big a performance to lead the way to the conference championship.
Quarterback Jake Browning, a Heisman candidate this season, threw 9-of-24 completions for 118 yards and two touchdowns. While Browning’s performance wasn’t necessarily Heisman-like in Friday’s win, two of his teammates helped in a major way on the ground. Myles Gaskin had 29 attempts for 159 yards and Lavon Coleman had 18 carries for 101 yards. They also averaged 5.5 yards per carry each for the game which helped propel the winning performance by the Buffaloes.
With each team winning to capture their conference champions over the past several days, it has led to their impending matchup in the 2017 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. The game is scheduled for New Year’s Day 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia at the Georgia Dome. Alabama enters the game as the top overall team in the rankings with a perfect record of 13-0, while the Washington Huskies are the No. 4 team in the playoffs at 12-1 overall and 8-1 in conference.
The 2016 Peach Bowl point spread for Alabama vs. Washington has already been set with just under a month before the game arrives. The Vegas Insider website has Alabama listed as the favorites by 14 points for this playoff semifinals game. However, various sports books now have the Crimson Tide as 14-and a half or 15-point favorites. The number is likely to fluctuate as the game draws closer. As for the over/under points total for the game, that has yet to be listed but is likely to become available in the coming days and weeks.
The game will be available for fans to witness with ESPN set to televise the big College Football Playoffs matchup at 3 p.m. Eastern Time on December 31, 2016. Will Washington be able to shock Alabama in the 2016 Peach Bowl, or will the Crimson Tide continue to roll towards another football championship?
[Featured Image by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images]