ATLANTA — Alabama is heading back to the national championship game.

And so is Clemson.

Bo Scarbrough and another stifling performance by the defense led top-ranked Alabama to a 24-7 win over Washington in Saturday’s Peach Bowl semifinal. The Crimson Tide scored 10 points off turnovers, including Ryan Anderson’s interception return for a touchdown late in the first half, and Scarbrough’s 68-yard TD run in the fourth quarter clinched the victory.

In the second game, Clemson jumped ahead early and never relented, beating Ohio State 31-0 in the Fiesta Bowl.

The teams meet Jan. 9, a year after Alabama beat Clemson 45-40 for the title.

Clemson’s Deshaun Watson threw for 259 yards and a touchdown in the win over Ohio State while also rushing for 57 yards and two TDs.

Alabama will take on Clemson seeking its second straight title and fifth in eight years under Coach Nick Saban.

Scarbrough was named offensive MVP of the Peach Bowl with 180 yards and two scores. Washington’s Jake Browning and the Huskies’ balanced offense were no match for Alabama’s top-ranked defense, even after an impressive drive gave them an early 7-0 edge.

“After we got into the flow of the game, I thought we did pretty well on defense,” said Saban, who now can join Bear Bryant as the only coaches to win six national titles in the poll era.

The Tide (14-0) began to exert their dominance late in the first quarter when John Ross caught a screen pass, only to have the ball stripped away by Anthony Averett. Jonathan Allen recovered, giving Alabama possession at the Washington 40 and setting up Adam Griffith’s 41-yard field goal for a 10-7 lead.

Anderson made an even bigger play with just over a minute to go in the half. With linebacker Reuben Foster bearing down, Browning desperately heaved a pass into the flats for Lavon Coleman. Anderson stepped in to pick it off, knocked Coleman over and was off to the end zone on a 26-yard return that made it 17-7 at the half.

For Alabama, it was the 11th defensive touchdown of the season.

Nothing could have been more fitting.

“We’ve studied every snap that they’ve had this year, and the tape doesn’t lie when you watch that much tape,” Washington Coach Chris Petersen said. “I mean, that’s as good a defense as there is out there in college football, and they played like it.”

Any hopes of a Washington comeback were snuffed out by Scarbrough, a starter at most schools but a backup for the deep, talented Tide. On a simple running play to the left, he appeared to be stopped by two players just short of the line of scrimmage.

But Scarbrough somehow managed to stay on his feet and then he was gone. Streaking down the field in front of the Alabama bench, he avoided another defender with a subtle deke, cut back toward the middle of the field at the Washington 30 and outran everyone to the end zone.

Scarbrough also scored Alabama’s first touchdown with a bruising 18-yard run.

“Bo’s been playing pretty well for us the last three or four games,” Saban said. “We wanted to play him more. He’s hard to tackle. He’s big and powerful. He’s playing with a lot of confidence.”

Washington was held to season lows for points and yards, even after a 64-yard drive on its opening possession capped by Browning’s 16-yard TD pass to Dante Pettis.

The Huskies (12-2) finished with 194 yards, below their previous low of 276 in a 26-13 loss to Southern Cal. That was also their lowest-scoring game of the season until they ran up against the Tide.

Washington scored at least 31 points in every game except its two losses.

The final two offensive plays pretty much summed up the Huskies’ frustration. Browning was sacked for a big loss, and then threw his second interception on a desperation heave into the end zone.

A scuffle broke out after Minkah Fitzpatrick’s pick in the closing seconds, leading to a pair of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties against Alabama.

Several Washington players were shaken up while chasing down Fitzpatrick, but they all managed to walk off the field while the officials sorted things out.


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