By Ryan Mayer
The college football bowl season is upon us. With 40 games spread out over the next two weeks there is plenty of opportunity to add a little bonus to your holiday gift pile. Our bowl picks series will let you know who we think will come out on top against the spread. All lines and totals courtesy of Sportsline/Bookmaker.eu. Find all our picks here.
All lines listed are as of publishing date. As always lines may change in the lead up to games so be sure to check.
Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl
#4 Washington vs. #1 Alabama
Spread: Alabama -14.5
Spread: To quote Matthew McConaughey: Alright, alright, alright. We’ve gotten to the big games now. If you’ve watched any of this college football season you know what these two teams excel at. For Alabama, they crush opponents with a defense that not only shuts down their opponents (11.8 PPG, 63.4 rush YPG, 184.5 pass YPG) but also scores touchdowns by itself with 10 defensive touchdowns this season (5 INT returns, 5 fumble returns). Combine that with an offense that features a dynamic QB in freshman Jalen Hurts who, when combined with running backs Damien Harris, Bo Scarbrough, and Joshua Jacobs, racks up 245 yards per game on the ground.
Washington features a balanced offensive attack (267 pass YPG, 210 rush YPG) and a defense that excels at getting after the QB (37 sacks) and forcing turnovers (33 total, 19 INT 14 FR). The Huskies also don’t turn the ball over often – just 12 times total this season (5 fumbles 7 INT). That’s a good recipe for success against Alabama, because, as you can tell, the Tide excel at turning turnovers into points.
The biggest problem I see for Washington here is the Tide’s defensive front. The one time that the Huskies faced even a slightly similarly talented and physical front, USC, they were dominated in the game to the tune of a 26-13 loss. The Tide’s front is miles better than USC’s. That’s no slight against the Trojans, it’s an acknowledgement of the fact that Alabama’s front seven is littered with future first round picks. However, the bright side I see for the Huskies is their ability to stop the run. They’ve allowed opponents just 123.5 yards per game, 3.4 per carry, on the ground this season. As previous games have shown, this isn’t a dominant Tide offensive line, and you can get into the backfield to get stops which brings the offense to a standstill. In addition, Browning and company must protect the football. If they don’t we could be in for a repeat of last year’s Tide demolition of their opponent in the semis. I’m not saying Washington will win, but two-plus touchdowns feels like a lot. Washington +14.5
Total: These defenses have been two of the best in the country at keeping their opponents out of the end zone. Alabama didn’t allow an offensive touchdown in the entire month of November. They’re giving up just 11.8 points per game. Washington has been no slouch itself giving up just 17.2 points per outing. The strength of the defenses with the fact that they can get after some of the weaknesses of the offensive units, leads me to believe we’re staring at a 27-17, 30-20 type game. Under 54.5
Ryan Mayer is an Associate Producer for CBS Local Sports. Ryan lives in NY but comes from Philly and life as a Philly sports fan has made him cynical. Anywhere sports are being discussed, that’s where you’ll find him.