The Huskies need to protect quarterback Jake Browning, have some big plays and win the turnover battle.
The Huskies, as two-touchdown underdogs, have to keep Jake Browning clean against Alabama’s aggressive, punishing defense, which averages 3.46 sacks per game. UW’s offensive line (1.62 sacks per game) has been generally solid at protecting their quarterback, but they haven’t see a defense like this. “I’m expecting a breakout game from Browning … because we didn’t see it in the Pac-12 championship,” said UW Hall of Fame lineman Lincoln Kennedy, now an analyst for the Pac-12 Network. “The competitor that he is, I see him really putting it together. … I lay the onus on the big boys up front.”
The return of John Ross III changed everything for the Washington offense this season, and he gives the Huskies hope Saturday. If there is one area where it appears the Huskies have a clear edge, it’s out wide — with Ross, Dante Pettis and Chico McClatcher. Ross is one of the most dynamic playmakers in college football. The Huskies can’t expect to sustain long drives against Alabama’s top-ranked defense — ’Bama’s devastating front seven makes that nearly impossible. So the Huskies have to find a way to create explosive plays, which has generally been a strength this season.
Look, turnovers are a key in every game, right? But in a game like this, with so much staked against the Huskies — playing three time zones away, more than 2,000 miles from Seattle, in front of what will feel like Alabama’s stadium — they can’t afford to lose the turnover battle and expect to hang close. The good news for the Huskies is they’re better than anyone else in the FBS at forcing turnovers (with 33) and at turnover margin (at plus-21). UW’s running backs haven’t fumbled at all this season, and the Huskies will probably need a big play from the defense to pull off the big upset.