Dy­nasty takes on a cu­rios­ity

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Paul New­berry

at­lanta» Alabama is fa­mil­iar with this role.

Wash­ing­ton? It’s been awhile.

The Peach Bowl fea­tures one of col­lege foot­ball’s great­est dynasties against the def­i­nite out­sider in this sea­son’s Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off.

The top-ranked Crim­son Tide (13-0) is go­ing for its sec­ond straight na­tional ti­tle and fifth in the last nine sea­sons un­der coach Nick Sa­ban.

At this point, it’s na­tional cham­pi­onship or bust for Alabama.

A loss in Satur­day’s semi­fi­nal game would make this sea­son a fail­ure.

“It’s the Bama way,” line­backer Reuben Foster said.

Wash­ing­ton (12-1) comes into the Peach Bowl with an en­tirely dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive.

The Huskies wan­dered in the wilder­ness for much of the past two decades, play­ing in only one ma­jor bowl since Don James re­tired after the 1992 sea­son and slog­ging through a stretch of six straight los­ing sea­sons that in­cluded an 0-12 de­ba­cle in 2008.

Chris Petersen took over as coach in 2014 and strug­gled through his first two years, go­ing 15-12. But it all came to­gether this sea­son as the Huskies over­came their lone loss, at home against South­ern Cal, to claim the fi­nal play­off berth be­hind a trio of peren­nial na­tional con­tenders that in­cluded Ohio State and Clem­son.

For Petersen, the re­turn to promi­nence comes down to a sim­ple for­mula he looks for in ev­ery re­cruit: tal­ent plus character equals OKG (Our Kind of Guy).

“We feel strongly about the guy that we’re look­ing for that we think fits our cul­ture, our style of foot­ball,” he said Fri­day. “There’s good play­ers out there, and some of those guys don’t fit what we’re all about.”

What to watch for when the Crim­son Tide takes on the Huskies:

• Sa­ban said Wash­ing­ton’s sec­ondary re­minds him of the Seat­tle Sea­hawks. That’s a bit of an over­state­ment, but the Huskies do rely heav­ily on a tal­ented, ex­pe­ri­enced group that in­cludes safety Budda Baker and cor­ner­backs Sid­ney Jones and Kevin King. Wash­ing­ton has cre­ated 33 turnovers this sea­son, more than any team in the coun­try, in­clud­ing 19 in­ter­cep­tions.

• Lane Kif­fin brought the Tide more in line with the wide-open times. It’s clear he was given the lat­i­tude to trans­form Alabama into more of a spread-like team. From Sa­ban’s per­spec­tive, the will­ing­ness to change and adapt is the key to keep­ing a team on top.

• Jake Brown­ing and a high-fly­ing pass­ing game gets much of the at­ten­tion at Wash­ing­ton, but the ground game fea­tures 1,339yard rusher Myles Gaskin. He came through big in vic­to­ries over Utah and es­pe­cially Colorado in the Pac12 cham­pi­onship game, when Brown­ing was held to 118 yards on 9-of-24 pass­ing.

• Alabama will be play­ing at the Ge­or­gia Dome for the sec­ond time this month — hav­ing al­ready won the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence ti­tle on the same field — and in a city that is a man­age­able drive for most of its fan base. That should give the Crim­son Tide a de­cided edge in the stands, es­pe­cially when Wash­ing­ton is on of­fense.

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