By Steve Silverman
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The College Football Playoff has already become something of a routine, and in many ways it has dragged down the enjoyment factor of the entire bowl season.
There really aren’t more than a handful of bowl games outside of the two semifinal playoff games that really matter. Michigan-Florida State in the Orange Bowl and USC-Penn State in the Rose Bowl at least get your attention even if they don’t capture your imagination completely.
Aside from those two games, it’s all about the playoffs and that makes sense. For years and years, there was no national championship in this sport, and now there is. The title game, which will be played Jan. 9 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, is almost an afterthought at this point.
The biggest reason for that is because Alabama is almost certain to come away with the glass football that goes to the national champions.
The Crimson Tide should have a sizable advantage over the winner the Ohio State-Clemson matchup. Both the Buckeyes and the Tigers are excellent teams, but the Tide is a super team that scores on offense, defense and special teams with regularity. Head coach Nick Saban seems to have one of the greatest college teams ever assembled.
Notice that we haven’t even mentioned Washington, Alabama’s opponent in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta (sponsored by a chicken sandwich, I believe). That’s because the Huskies are merely supposed to be cannon fodder on New Year’s Eve.
The oddsmakers have Alabama as 13.5-point favorites and trust me when I tell you that many a wise guy is putting his money on the Crimson Tide.
It would not be a surprise if Alabama has the game under full control by halftime.
That’s why the College Football Playoff is a ho-hum endeavor. There’s too much Alabama hype and love.
Nobody is even mentioning the possibility of a Washington upset as a legitimate possibility.
That’s a grand concept in the world of sports. If events like the Super Bowl, World Series, NCAA tournament, NBA Playoffs and Stanley Cup Playoffs are the lifeblood of a fan’s sports world, the upset, or the possibility of such, is what makes any of those events incredibly memorable.
For local fans of a certain age, the year 1969 stands out and it always will. In January of that year, Joe Namath and the Jets scored a remarkable upset and victory for the American Football League over the Baltimore Colts and established NFL.
Nobody gave the 17-point underdog Jets a chance against Don Shula’s juggernaut, but Namath guaranteed the win when he was egged on by some loud-mouthed Colts fans.
Nine months later, the New York Mets scored an upset of their own when they took down the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series. The Orioles were led by brilliant pitching and Hall of Famers Frank Robinson and Brooks Robinson. However, the Mets had one of the greatest pitching staffs of that or any other era and won the title in five games.
There have been many others since, with the most famous being the U.S. Olympic hockey team’s miracle win over the Soviet Union and subsequent gold medal victory over Finland in 1980.
A win by Washington would be the perfect elixir for college football.
There’s such a humdrum attitude towards Alabama’s dominance that it is boring in many ways.
But the Huskies are going to show up, and head coach Chris Petersen does have some weapons on his side. Quarterback Jake Browning may not have a national following, but he has thrown for 3,280 yards with a 42-to-7 TD-to-interception ratio.
Browning is a 6-foot-2, 210-pound sophomore who has the NFL in his future. He will be facing the best defense he has seen during his college career, but that does not mean he has to turn into a weeping puddle when the Crimson Tide come after him. If he can hang in there in the early going, it will speak volumes to his teammates.
John Ross and Dante Pettis are his main targets, as those two receivers have combined for 31 touchdowns. Myles Gaskin has rushed for 1,373 yards and 10 touchdowns, and while he can be somewhat explosive, it would be a surprise if he can crease the Alabama defense.
Alabama has a brilliant, young quarterback in Jalen Hurts, who has completed 65.3 percent of his passes. But what makes Alabama so fearsome is its ability to strike suddenly on defense and special teams. The Crimson Tide have 14 non-offensive touchdowns, and that’s what often takes the heart out of their opponents.
If Washington can avoid giving up an interception return or having a punt blocked for a score, the Huskies may be able to avoid that sinking feeling that all 13 of Alabama’s opponents have felt.
This is supposed to be the pinnacle of the college football season, with interest heightened and a countdown clock in the mind of fans as they anxiously await kickoff.
Instead, there’s an inevitability to the whole thing, and that can only change if fans get the upset that college football desperately needs.
Follow Steve on Twitter at @Profootballboy