With No. 1 Alabama (13-0) favored by two touchdowns over No. 4 Washington in the Peach Bowl, many people are trying to figure out how the Huskies can just keep things close Saturday.
“If you can force them to be a passing team, if you can take away the running ability of Jalen Hurts and some of the guys in the interior, that would seem to be the way to do it,” AL.com Alabama football beat writer Michael Casagrande said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “They still have had trouble sometimes throwing the ball down the field – the timing hasn’t been perfect yet – so if you can make them a little bit more one-dimensional, make them throw the ball, at least offensively, that’s the way to attack their offense.”
As a team, Alabama rushed for 3,185 yards and 28 touchdowns this season, with Damien Harris, Hurts, Joshua Jacobs and Bo Scarbrough all rushing for at least 500 yards. Harris led the team with 986, while Hurts had a team-high 12 rushing touchdowns.
“You get the impression he’s a very confident guy,” Casagrande said of Hurts. “He’s not cocky. He’s pretty humble, as (much) as you can be in this situation, being an 18-year-old kid as the starting quarterback for the No. 1 team that hasn’t lost a game. He is as mature as you would think. He’s an impressive kid. Big future ahead of him.”
Washington, meanwhile, will rely on sophomore quarterback Jake Browning finding John Ross, Dante Pettis, and Myles Gaskin early and often Saturday.
“They seem pretty consistent,” Casagrande said of Washington’s offense. “They don’t make the mistakes that Alabama likes to feed on. They’re so good on the turnover margin on both sides of the ball. So try to avoid the big mistakes, chip away at them, kind of maybe find some sort of weakness here or there, but I don’t know if they do anything that’s so different from what they’ve seen before. But you never know. Ole Miss and Arkansas found some opportunities in the passing game. If they can hit something there, they could make things interesting.”
Whatever happens, don’t be surprised to see at least one sideline meltdown from Nick Saban.
“He’s pretty intense all the time,” Casagrande said. “I don’t think he puts it on for the televisions cameras. Maybe sometimes he amps it up a little bit more, but he pretty much tries to maintain that same level of intensity all the time. It’s not easy to, but he seems to pull it off pretty well. What you see if what you get.”
Kickoff is at 3 p.m. ET, with No. Clemson (12-1) versus No. 3 Ohio State (11-1) to follow at 7 p.m. ET.