Alabama Football: On million dollar bets, lock predictions and history

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /

Does a ‘Fool and his money’ apply to Alabama Football losing the Rose Bowl Game to Michigan? Perhaps the answer is subject to a wide range of perspectives.

Recently Dave Portnoy predicted the Michigan Wolverines will “pummel” the Alabama Crimson Tide and he has wagered $1M to back up his prediction. There is little doubt Portnoy has the cash to throw around. He is entitled to gamble any amount he wishes on any team he chooses.

What must also be true is that Portnoy believes there has been a titanic shift in the college football world. The Wolverines are riding a crest built of three straight Big Ten Championships. How relevant that is to winning CFB Playoff games is not known.

The history of Michigan and other Big Ten programs in the CFB Playoff is filled with disappointments. Only Ohio State has had some success and even the Buckeyes have won just one Playoff game since the 2014 season.

Since Ohio State won the 2014 National Championship, Big Ten teams have won just one Playoff game. A list is provided below.

  • 2015 Season – Playoff Semi-Final; Alabama 31 – Michigan State 0
  • 2016 Season – Playoff Semi-Final; Clemson 31- Ohio State 0
  • 2017 Season – No Big Ten teams in Playoff
  • 2018 Season – No Big Ten teams in Playoff
  • 2019 Season – Playoff Semi-Final; Clemson 29 – Ohio State 23
  • 2020 Season – Playoff Semi-Final; Ohio State 49 – Clemson 28; National Championship Game, Alabama 52 – Ohio State 24
  • 2021 Season – Playoff Semi-Final; Georgia 34 – Michigan 11
  • 2022 Season – Playoff Semi-Final; Georgia 42 – Ohio State 41 and Playoff Semi-Final, TCU 51 – Michigan 45. In the National Championship Game, Georgia demolished TCU 65-7.

Admittedly none of those performances in the 2015-2022 seasons define a team in the 2023 season. But it is quite a stretch to believe that any Big Ten team, even its current best, the Michigan Wolverines, could make such a transformation into being a Playoff favorite.

But former Michigan All-American, Taylor Lewan is as bullish on the Wolverines as is Dave Portnoy.

Just for the record, Lewan had a painful experience playing an Alabama Crimson Tide team in 2012. Alabama won 41-14 and multiple comments from fans at the game stated Lewan refused help but struggled to walk off the field at the end of the game.

Lewan was a great college player with a solid NFL career. He is a football expert. And he is right, Alabama today is not the beast it was in 2011, 2012 and 2015. The Crimson Tide is a different animal now. Alabama now does some things better than it did in those glory seasons and other things not as well. Lewan is correct that Alabama has weaknesses, though often they have come from lapses. What may have narrowed, but still exists is talent gaps between SEC and Big Ten rosters.

Lewan should feel confident about his team. But he should also know, that the rosters of the top SEC teams (Georgia and Alabama) are still stronger, faster, and more physical than the top Big Ten teams. If any team wins by double-digits on Jan. 1, it will not be Michigan.