After playing two of the top-six teams in the nation in back-to-back weeks, the Fresno State coach says both are good enough to return to the playoffs.
Fresno State first-year coach Jeff Tedford is probably the most qualified person to compare and contrast two teams ranked among the top six in college football — No. 1 Alabama and No. 6 Washington.
A week after losing 41-10 to the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Tedford led the Bulldogs into Husky Stadium on Saturday for a 48-16 defeat.
So whose better Washington or Alabama, which clobbered the Huskies 24-7 in the College Football Playoffs semifinals last year?
“They’re both great teams,” Tedford said. “They were both in the Final Four last year. They’re very physical. Both teams are very well coached. They’re very fast. It’s just really hard to sustain anything on them because they’re physical up front and they can really run.
“So there’s a reason why those two teams were in the Final Four. They’re great teams. They play well all the way around. It’s not just offensively or defensively, it’s special teams — all three phases of the game. They do an excellent job.”
Fresno State trailed Alabama 28-3 at halftime and was down 34-3 midway in the fourth quarter before reaching the end zone on a 26-yard pass play against the Crimson Tide’s backup defenders.
On Saturday, the Huskies dominated the first half and took a 41-7 lead into the lockers at the break. Washington scored on its first drive in the second half — a 73-yard reception from quarterback Jake Browning to Dante Pettis — before pulling most of the starters and sending in the backups for mop-up duty.
The Huskies allowed three field goals in the second half and two came after UW fumbles.
Washington (3-0) finished a relatively easy nonconference schedule on a high note heading into next week’s Pac-12 opener at Colorado, which is a rematch of last year’s conference championship game that UW won 41-10 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
Tedford, who spent four months of the 2016 season as a consultant on the Washington coaching staff, believes the Huskies could make another run to the College Football Playoffs.
“They look the same to me,” Tedford said. “I know they lost some secondary guys. But having Azeem (Victor) back and (Keishawn) Bierria in there and the front four that they have especially the two guys (Vita Vea and Greg Gaines) inside and their secondary plays very well.
“They do a great job of mixing things up defensively. They have a really nice pressure package. (Pete) Kwiatkowski and the rest of their defensive staff does a phenomenal job of putting those guys in position to make plays and they play very fast.”
Fresno State reportedly banked $1.4 million from Alabama and $1 million from UW to serve as a tuneup as the respective teams head into conference play.
The Bulldogs (1-2) have a bye this week before their Mountain West opener against Nevada on Sept. 30.
“We’re battle-tested, for sure,” Tedford said. “We played two of the best teams in the country back to back on the road in hostile environments. It’s a good time for us to get healthy.
“After two physical games like that, you got a lot of bumps and bruises.”