5 keys to victory for Washington in Peach Bowl

Saban's willingness to hire coaches who specialize in areas outside his comfort zone is a key to him keeping Alabama on top. Fortunately, Jeremy Pruitt's defense found a way to outscore the Huskies in the first half, capitalizing on two Washington turnovers to give Alabama a 17-7 lead at the break. While a national championship is on the line here, not too many people are believing in the Huskies. "We aren't going to win every single one, but we're going to need to win more than a few of them". Just as important has been the 11th best defense in America, which has allowed just 316.2 yards per game and is equally as balanced, ranking 20th against the run and 21st against the pass.

They've called that shot all season.

The Crimson Tide have been widely considered college football's best team all season, and while they got the job done against a strong Washington team Saturday, there is plenty to clean up entering the title game.

That's because the Crimson Tide have scored 10 defensive touchdowns (five on interceptions, five on fumble returns) as the most opportunistic defense in the country.

It nearly always comes from the defense. 3 MI sealed the team as one of college football's best.

The game was close near the half with the Tide holding a slim three-point lead and then Browning made a costly mistake.

That's the flawless talking point, because that 2011 unit remains the gold standard for Alabama under Saban. After they had to hear the doubters all season, the Huskies will get their chance to prove them wrong against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Peach Bowl on Saturday. The offensive line manhandled Washington on the ground, helping Hurts & Co.to 270 rushing yards.

Alabama would punt shortly thereafter. Pruitt has this unit operating at an almost-unprecedented level.

Ohio State's defense will be Deshaun Watson's toughest test yet ... this season
The two have worked together for so long, and had so much success, that at this point they are nearly on the same wavelength. The Tigers have won the previous two, a 17-15 win in the 1978 Gator Bowl, and the 40-35 win in the 2013 season Orange Bowl.

New Year's Eve and the College Football Playoff were not a great mix last year.

Gaskin came up big in victories over Utah and against Colorado in the Pac-12 Championship Game, when Browning was held to 118 yards on 9-of-24 passing.

Washington was hanging tight with Alabama as time ticked away at the end of the first half. Still, Hurts didn't make big mistakes and has the Crimson Tide in the same position. If that wasn't impressive enough, the Alabama defense was responsible for scoring nine touchdowns and sacking quarterbacks 45 times.

Surely other teams have said the same thing - but failed. It's absurd at this point because we're simply waiting for the next score.

The difference, again, was defense.

Beginning in 1965, the bowl games became more than just a reward for a good season. Even when he had decent protection, Alabama's defensive backs covered UW's receivers so well that Browning often had to settle for throwing the ball out of bounds.

According to SB Nation, there are four games on the New Year's Eve docket today, two of which are playoff games.

None of the other three playoff contenders - Ohio State, Clemson and Washington - have relied more heavily on freshmen than Alabama. That begs just one question.

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