New Year’s Day kicks off with two bowl games starting at 1pm. One of those pits B1G power house Michigan against SEC powerhouse Alabama. In what is sure to be a great game the Wolverines and Tide face each other for just the fifth time with Alabama winning the most recent game 41-14 in 2012. We’ll take a look at the teams here.
Michigan: 9-3 (6-3)
Jim Harbaugh is looking for his 4th 10-win season since coming to Michigan in 2015. He is 1-3 in bowl games but 1-0 in Citrus Bowls. He is looking for his highest final season ranking in his time at Michigan.
The Wolverines had a great year but ultimately a disappointing year by the fans’ account. They won two ranked games this year against Iowa and Notre Dame but dropped three to Wisconsin, Penn State and Ohio State. The Wolverines have yet to defeat the Buckeyes under Jim Harbaugh.
Michigan had hoped for a playoff this year in senior transfer quarterback Shea Patterson’s final season. Patterson 5,428 yards and 44 touchdowns vs 13 interceptions in his Michigan career. He is 2-6 against SEC teams in his career.
A good day from Shea will be needed for Michigan to pull off the upset. The Tide defense is not as strong this year as in year’s past, as Auburn was able to expose in the final game of the season. They have been very good against the pass but not as strong against the run. Look for Zach Charbonnet and Hassan Haskins to attack the Alabama linebackers and make them stop the run.
Alabama Crimson Tide: 10-2 (6-2)
Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide have lost two games in the regular season for the first time since 2012. It is just the third time they have lost two regular season games during the Saban era.
A major gripe against Alabama this season comes from a lack of being tested this season. Only three teams Alabama has beaten this season have winning records – all 7-5 records. They have one win over a ranked team (Texas A&M) but they are not currently ranked.
Regardless of the schedule, Alabama has shown they can compete with the nation’s top teams. They took LSU and Auburn down to the final minute of those games. Even with redshirt sophomore Mac Jones taking over at quarterback, the Tide still field one of the most lethal offenses in the country.
Michigan has a very good passing defense. They rank 5th against the pass and 22nd against the run which means Alabama’s Najee Harris will need to be a factor. Alabama comes in as the 3rd best passing offense but most of those numbers were from Tua Tagovailoa.
If you look at the past, the history doesn’t favor Michigan. Jim Harbaugh is 1-3 in bowl games as the Michigan head coach. Nick Saban has lost three games just two times in his Alabama career. Aside from that, in years he’s lost two games in the regular season Alabama has won their bowl game.
Michigan has a very strong defense working in their favor. They defend the pass very well which puts backup Mac Jones’s abilities in question. Alabama will need to rely on it’s defense some and also trust the running game will get going to earn the win.
Michigan: 27, Alabama: 35
Make sure to check out our college football page for more updates and rankings.