This is the first season in a while when the Tide didn’t have a proven running back ready to step up, but Harris has emerged as a budding star. He’s only 17 rushing yards shy of 1,000 for the season. More impressively, he’s averaging 8.9 yards a carry in games away from Tuscaloosa.
The Tide’s M.O. is to wear opponents down, so expect them to attack the Huskies linebackers. The 5-11, 215-pound 19-year-old gets better as the game goes on, averaging 6.6 yards a carry in the first half and 8.7 in the second. — Feldman
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Washington DT Vita Vea
The Crimson Tide are the team known for a fierce defensive front, but the 6-foot-5, 332-pound sophomore may be as physically gifted as any interior tackle in college football. His stats aren’t eye-catching (35 tackles, 5.5 TFLs) but his quickness is, for being so massive. Vea could give some issues to a 'Bama front that's closest thing to a weakness, according to Lane Kiffin, is power.
Washington will miss the edge-rushing explosiveness of Joe Mathis, but if Vea and Co. can be disruptive, things could get interesting. True freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts completes just 33 percent of his passes when he’s under pressure. — Feldman
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Alabama LB Rashaan Evans
The Tide got some bad news when one of their headiest defenders — Shaun Dion Hamilton — was lost for the season with a knee injury in the SEC title game.
Evans, regarded by Tide coaches as one of the five biggest athletic freaks on the team, has moved up and is more than capable of filling the void. He’s played quite a bit this season and has 35 tackles and six QB hurries. Last season in the title game win over Clemson, Evans had two sacks. — Feldman
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Washington CB Sidney Jones
Budda Baker gets most of the headlines in the Huskies secondary, but their corners are highly regarded NFL prospects too. They have the kind of size and range to give any receiving corps, including 'Bama’s, some issues.
The 6-foot, 180-pound junior hasn’t allowed a touchdown pass all season. According to Pro Football Focus, the quarterback rating of opposing QBs throwing into Jones’ coverage is just 42.2. — Feldman
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Alabama DE Dalvin Tomlinson
Jonathan Allen is the most productive and most celebrated of the Tide D-linemen. Da'Ron Payne is the biggest and most explosive. But don’t sleep on the 309-pound Tomlinson, who is the toughest.
A former dominant prep wrestler who turned down many scholarships in that sport, Tomlinson only lost two matches in his entire career. That power comes in handy when he’s neutralizing linemen and causing havoc to enable the Tide linebackers and edge rushers to shine for the nation’s No. 1 defense. — Feldman
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Ohio State DE Nick Bosa
Joey’s younger brother, a true freshman, is listed as a third-string defensive end, but his five sacks rank second for the Buckeyes. The 6-foot-4, 295-pound Florida native sees the field mainly on third down, lining up inside on Ohio State’s so-called “Rushmen” package.
He’ll look to get after Clemson star quarterback Deshaun Watson, much like his brother when he sacked the Tigers’ Tajh Boyd in the 2014 Orange Bowl. — Mandel
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Clemson WR Artavis Scott
Mike Williams is the Tigers’ No. 1 receiver and a projected first-round NFL Draft pick, but Scott has 71 catches for 592 yards and is a vital cog in their offense.
Clemson often lines Scott up in the slot, a position where Ohio State’s aggressive press defense might leave it vulnerable, or throws him quick screens on the outside to pick up chunks of yardage. — Mandel
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Ohio State RB Mike Weber
With so much attention afforded Buckeyes QB J.T. Barrett and versatile H-back Curtis Samuel, it’s easy to forget they also have a 1,000-yard rusher in their backfield.
Weber, a redshirt freshman, carried the ball at least 11 times in every game and averaged 6.1 yards per attempt, better than the likes of Florida State’s Dalvin Cook and Washington’s Myles Gaskin. — Mandel
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Clemson CB Marcus Edmond
While not one of the Tigers’ starting corners, Edmond was responsible for two of the biggest plays of Clemson’s season. The junior stopped a Louisville receiver one yard short to seal the Tigers’ dramatic Oct. 1 win and had the game-clinching interception in overtime to finish off NC State (pictured). — Mandel
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Ohio State P Cameron Johnston
Lost among all those four- and five-star recruits and future NFL defenders, Ohio State also boasts a Ray Guy Award finalist. Ranked fourth nationally with a 46.2-yard average, Johnston pinned Oklahoma five times inside the 20 in an early-season victory. His 49 punts included 16 of 50-plus yards, with no blocks. — Mandel