ATLANTA (AP) — No. 1 Alabama and coach Nick Saban are the closest the College Football Playoff has to seasoned veterans. The fourth-ranked Washington Huskies are new on the scene.
Both teams have arrived in Atlanta to resume preparation for Saturday's Peach Bowl semifinal game at the Georgia Dome.
The Crimson Tide (13-0) is 3 for 3 in making the playoffs so far, winning it all last season and falling to eventual champion Ohio State two years ago.
"What I've learned about this game is the mind-set of: Is this a bowl game or is this a playoff game, which I think every player has to decide for himself, every coach has to decide for himself," Saban said Monday. "Because we are trying to create a balance for everyone in our organization because it is a playoff game."
Despite Saban's past lamentations that the playoff format has diminished the importance of bowl games for some, there's no denying the different level of stakes for this one.
The pecking order for the game is clear, too.
Alabama had a quick flight from the next state over. The Huskies (12-1) flew some 2,500 miles to arrive Sunday night as two-touchdown underdogs, the biggest spread of any of this week's bowl games. Washington coach Chris Petersen is no stranger to being the underdog, or to pulling off upsets going back to his days at Boise State.
Unlike Alabama, Petersen's Huskies are in an unfamiliar spot. But he doesn't think this team has been affected by big-game hype so far this season.
The Husky's play Number 1 Alabama in the Collegiate Football Tournament on KJNO at 10:00 a.m. for the pre-game and 11:00 a.m. for the kick-off on Saturday.