Stuart McNair

Notes from Alabama’s Peach Bowl win over Washington

Alabama vs. Clemson in national championship game rematch

There was no complaining about those selected as Most Valuable Players in Alabama’s 24-7 win over Washington Saturday in the Peach Bowl, which is also a semifinal game in the College Football Playoff.

There was, though, some mystery. Who selected the MVPs? Ordinarily that’s a media vote, but no ballots were in sight in the press box.

Little matter, though.

Bo Scarbrough was clearly the Offensive MVP. The sophomore Alabama tailback ran 19 times for 180 yards, including a 68-yard run for one of his two touchdowns. The 180 yards and the 68-yard run were both Alabama bowl records. The 19 carries and 180 yards were career highs for Scarbrough.

Senior linebacker Ryan Anderson was Defensive MVP as he turned in an interception which he ran back for a touchdown 26 yards just before halftime to extend the Alabama lead to 10 points.

Ryan’s interception TD was Alabama’s 11th defensive touchdown this year, and the first time this year that Washington had allowed a touchdown by anything other than an offensive play. Bama has six interception returns and five fumble returns for TDs this season.

Bama also has three punt returns and a blocked punt for a touchdown, giving the Tide 15 non-offensive touchdowns, most in major college football. (Ohio State is second with 7.)

The six interception returns for touchdowns in a season is an Alabama school record.

Washington came into the game leading the nation in turnover margin, but was minus three against the Tide. In addition to Anderson’s interception, Minkah Fitzpatrick had one in the final moments of the game. Bama also got a fumble recovery, caused by Anthony Averett and recovered by Jonathan Allen. The Tide did not turn the ball over, only the third game this year Alabama has not had a turnover. The others were Kent State and the Southeastern Conference Championship Game against Florida.

Here are notes from the Tide’s 24-7 win over Washington in the Peach Bowl/College Football Playoff Semifinal Game Saturday:

The College Football Playoff National Championship Game is a rematch of last year’s participants as Clemson defeated Ohio State, 31-0, in the Fiesta Bowl. Alabama, which defeated Clemson, 45-40, last year, and the Tigers will meet in Tampa on Jan. 9 for the national championship.

Alabama had trailed 7-0 after Washington went on a touchdown march on its second possession of the game. After scoring at 8:01 to go in the first quarter, the Huskies did not take another snap in Alabama territory until 1:46 remained in the game.

Washington had 64 of its season-low 194 total yards on that lone touchdown drive.

The Huskies were held scoreless for the final three quarters. Until Saturday, Washington had not been held scoreless in consecutive quarters this year.

Although this was the Peach Bowl, it was Alabama’s first appearance in the game. Alabama, however, is now 11-3 all-time in the Georgia Dome. Alabama Coach Nick Saban is 10-1 in the Georgia Dome with nine consecutive wins.

Saban is 7-3 in bowl games at Alabama.

The Washington game was the 56th for members of Alabama’s senior class. The group boasts a four-year record of 51-5 (.911) and one national championship. The 51 wins breaks the NCAA record of 50 wins held by the senior classes of Alabama (2015), Ohio State (2015) and Boise State (2011).

Alabama has defeated 16 consecutive ranked opponents dating back to a loss to Ole Miss in September of 2015, tying Southern California (16 in a row from 2002-05) for the longest such streak. Alabama’s streak began at Georgia (Oct. 3) last season with a 38-10 win over the No. 8 Bulldogs in Athens. In those 16 games, the Tide is 8-0 against top-10 teams and 4-0 vs. the top five (LSU, Michigan State, Clemson and Washington). The Tide’s last loss to a top-25 team was Sept. 19, 2015, against Ole Miss (37-43).

Alabama's all-time record against ranked opponents is 154-124-7 (.553). Alabama is 125-75-3 (.623) as a ranked team playing a ranked opponent. The victory improved Alabama's record against Washington to 5-0-0 (1.000) all-time, including 3-0 in bowl games.

 Under Saban, the Crimson Tide is 106-6 (.946) when leading at the half. Alabama led Washington, 17-7, at the half and has held the lead at the break in 23 of its last 29 games dating back to the start of the 2015 season, including 12 of 14 games this season. Alabama is 84-2 (.977) under Saban when leading by 10 points or more at halftime.

Alabama owns the longest current winning streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision, having won 26 consecutive games dating back to last season. The 26-game streak is the third-longest in Alabama and Southeastern Conference history (28 games twice: 1991-93 and 1978-80) and is the longest under the direction of Saban (previous long: 19 games in 2009-10). During this stretch, the Crimson Tide has won 12 games at Bryant-Denny Stadium, eight-straight road matchups and six consecutive neutral-site contests while going 17-0 against teams from the Southeastern Conference. Alabama has outscored its opponents by 651 points (968-317; 37.2-12.2), an average of 25 points per game, during the streak.

Alabama is now 14-0, the third time Bama has reached the 14-win plateau. Bama also did it at 14-0 in the 2009 national championship season and in last year’s national title season (14-1).

Alabama has now won 13 or more games in a season five times, the most by any school in college football history. The three 14-win seasons is also the most in the history of the college game.

Washington tied a school record by finishing with 12 wins in its 12-2 season.

Alabama has played 73 games as the nation’s top-ranked team since the inception of the Associated Press poll in 1936. In those games, the Crimson Tide boasts a 63-10 (.863) record. Under Saban (2007-present), Alabama has played 49 games while being ranked No. 1, posting a 44-5 (.898) record.

At 44-5 (.898), Saban has won more games coaching a No. 1 team at one school than any other coach in college football history. Woody Hayes (Ohio State) and Bobby Bowden (Florida State) are tied for second with 40 wins each. Bowden was 40-5 as No. 1 and Hayes went 40-4-1. Saban accomplished the feat in his 10th season at Alabama while Bowden spent 34 seasons at FSU and Hayes was at OSU for 28. The Crimson Tide has been ranked No. 1 in 35.8 percent of their 137 games under Saban. Florida State was No. 1 in 10.8 percent of Bowden’s 417 games and Ohio State was No. 1 in 16.7 percent of the 276 games coached by Hayes.

Saban has 72 career wins vs. Associated Press Top 25 teams, good for third all-time. Former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno leads the list with 86, four victories ahead of Florida State’s Bobby Bowden (82). Alabama’s Paul Bryant is fourth at 66. Recently retired Duke, Florida and South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier is fifth at 64. Saban’s winning percentage against AP ranked teams (72-37, .661) tops Bryant (.592), Bowden (.557), Spurrier (.529) and Paterno (.512).

Alabama’s school-record consecutive games scoring streak was extended to 212 games.

 Sophomore Damien Harris became the 16th Alabama running back to reach the 1,000-yard mark in a season. Harris now has 1,013 yards on the season after rushing for 30 yards on nine carries against Washington. Overall, Tide backs have reached the 1,000-yard plateau 21 times in Alabama history. Harris is the seventh back to achieve the feat under Saban.

Junior JK Scott’s eight punt attempts was a season high and the second-highest total of his career. Scott’s previous season best was six vs. Chattanooga on Nov. 19. His career high is nine, set at LSU in 2014. Scott averaged 45.9 yards per punt on his eight attempts and landed three inside the 20-yard line with a long of 55 yards.

Alabama’s captains were defensive end Jonathan Allen, linebacker Reuben Foster, and offensive tackle Cam Robinson. Additionally, safety Eddie Jackson, also elected captain but out with injury, represented Bama at the coin toss.

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Attendance was 75,996, a record both for the Georgia Dome and for the Peach Bowl, and came in the final college game for the stadium. The Georgia Dome is being replaced by the Mercedes Benz Stadium, which will be the site of the Alabama-Florida State game to open next season.

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