ESPN’s Joe Tessitore: Huskies aren’t considered 2 TD underdogs against Alabama by those who look closely

Dec 28, 2016, 3:57 PM
Washington's stout defensive line is "like a premier SEC defensive line," according to ESPN's Joe T...
Washington's stout defensive line is "like a premier SEC defensive line," according to ESPN's Joe Tessitore. (AP)
LISTEN: ESPN's Joe Tessitore talks UW-Alabama before calling Peach Bowl

Judging by the Las Vegas odds and the majority of the coverage entering Saturday’s Peach Bowl, the No. 4 Washington Huskies shouldn’t stand much of a chance against top-ranked, undefeated Alabama.

Those who have focused on the matchup the most may not feel that way, though.

For example, ESPN’s Joe Tessitore, who will be on the call as the play-by-play announcer for ESPN’s broadcast of the game. He told “Brock and Salk” that there’s plenty of reason to believe the Huskies have a chance of knocking off Nick Saban’s defending national champions.

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“I think the read nationally on this game is not the read that those who are prepping for this game day in and day out would have,” said Tessitore, adding that his broadcast and production crew see the College Football Playoff national semifinal as much more even than the 14-point spread suggests. “Those of us who are preparing for this game day in and day out, and I’m sure that coaching staff down in Tuscaloosa, they see this game far differently than the national perception of this game being over a two-touchdown gap in the points spread.”

So, why is that? Tessitore points specifically to the Huskies’ defense, which is stingy both up front and in the back end.

“You spend time with this Washington team and you just look at who’s on the field and how they look coming off the bus, that defensive line – (Vita) Vea and (Greg) Gaines and (Elijah) Qualls – that looks like a premier SEC defensive line,” he said. “And that defensive backfield, now with the emergence of (Taylor) Rapp, and obviously Budda Baker being a consensus All-American and the two rangy corners (Sidney Jones and Kevin King), that is as good of a defensive backfield as Alabama will face all year, and as good of a defensive backfield in pure talent on the field as they’ve seen in an any of their runs during these SEC championships and national title runs.”

And of course there’s the man in charge of it all for Washington – head coach Chris Petersen, who has a pretty strong history in bowl games that his team isn’t supposed to win, chiefly the 2007 Fiesta Bowl in which his Boise State Broncos capped off a 12-0 season with a 43-42 win over 7 1/2-point favorite Oklahoma.

“I think (the Crimson Tide) have great respect for (the Huskies), and I think they have great respect for the coaching staff obviously with Coach Pete,” Tessitore said.

You can catch the Peach Bowl on 710 ESPN Seattle on Saturday. Kickoff is set for noon.

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ESPN’s Joe Tessitore: Huskies aren’t considered 2 TD underdogs against Alabama by those who look closely