They’re in: Washington Huskies to meet top-ranked Alabama in College Football Playoff semifinal

Dec 4, 2016, 9:35 AM | Updated: 9:37 am
in 2016, Washington's Jake Browning had one of the best seasons ever for a UW quarterback (AP)

In just the third year under head coach Chris Petersen, the Washington Huskies will get a chance to bring home a national championship to Montlake.

The 12-1 Huskies have been announced as the fourth and final team in the College Football Playoff, a two-round tournament that will determine the FBS title.

Washington will square off with undefeated, top-ranked Alabama in one of the two semifinals: the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, set to take place on Dec. 31 in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The other semifinal will pit No. 2 Clemson and No. 3 Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix on the same day.

The championship game will take place Jan. 9 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.

Stecker: Huskies prove value of offensive balance in Pac-12 title, Apple Cup wins

Washington solidified its case to be in the CFP on Friday night by blowing past Colorado 41-10 in the Pac-12 championship game, giving the Huskies their first conference title since 2000. Now, with two more wins, they could add their first national championship since 1991.

Petersen, who came over to Washington prior to the 2014 season following a wildly successful run at Boise State, has revived the UW program in his three seasons. Inheriting a team from Steve Sarkisian that went 9-4 in 2013 but hadn’t posted double-digit wins since 2000, Petersen weathered an 8-6 season in 2014 and 7-6 record in 2015 before leading the program to its breakout this year. The Huskies have been strong in all facets in the game thanks to stars Jake Browning, John Ross and Myles Gaskin on offense, strong lines on both sides of the ball, and play-making linebacker and secondary crews full of future NFL potential.

If any program boasts more balance and talent than Washington, though, it’s Alabama. No other team has held the top spot in the rankings in 2016, and the Crimson Tide have won an incredible four national championships since 2009 under head coach Nick Saban, including last year. They’ll be coming off an SEC title victory over Florida on Saturday, which put them at 13-0 this year and pushed their year-plus win streak to 25 games.

Alabama leads the country in scoring defense, allowing just 11.8 points per game, and is 13th in scoring offense at 40.5 points per game.

The Huskies’ lone loss of the season came against USC on Nov. 12, a 26-13 defeat in a game in which UW lost leading tackler Azeem Victor to injury in the first half and was still trying to figure out its pass rush following the earlier loss of sack leader Joe Mathis to a foot issue. Since the USC game, however, Washington has beaten Arizona State, then-No. 23 WSU and then-No. 9 Colorado a combined 130-45.

UW is fourth in scoring offense with 44.5 points per game and tied for eighth in scoring defense at 17.2 points allowed.

Brent Stecker

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They’re in: Washington Huskies to meet top-ranked Alabama in College Football Playoff semifinal