The last time these two teams met, stakes were not quite as high. Going back to the Citrus Bowl in January of 2020, Alabama pulled away and finished off Michigan 35-16. The Crimson Tide finished that season 11-2, while Michigan ended 9-4. Fast forward nearly four years and these teams meet again with much bigger implications--the winner will go ahead and face off against either Texas or Washington in the College Football Playoff Championship. Here are some bold predictions for the Rose Bowl this year:
1.) Alabama Will Run For 200 yards
It is no surprise that Alabama hasn't had the best year in rushing the football this year, ranking 48th in the FBS. However, with running back Jase McClellan looking to come back for the Rose Bowl, as well as trying to keep the ball out of the air against a Michigan pass defense that ranks #2 overall, it would be understandable to see the Crimson Tide pound the run game to start it off and continue to do so if it finds success. Throw in Jalen Milroe and his ability to scramble, as well as backup running backs Roydell Williams, Jam Miller, and even freshman Justice Haynes, there just seems to be more reasons to see Tommy Rees drawing up well-designed runs this game.
2.) Michigan Takes a Lead Going Into the Half
Alabama fans likely won't enjoy seeing this bold prediction, but there is a reason why they are bold. The Wolverines are a solid team defensively, and Milroe has been a little predictable throughout the year with his decision-making. Michigan thrives on generating turnovers and then capitalizing on those mistakes. The Wolverines rank #2 overall in terms of turnover margin at +1.5 per game. Depending on which Alabama team shows up Monday, Alabama could find themselves going into the half down.
3.) Blake Corum Will Be Held to Under 70 Yards Rushing
Blake Corum has come a long way from where he was even just a year ago. Before injuries, Corum was in the running for the 2022 Heisman Trophy. Since then, he just has not seemed to be the same running back he used to be. Nonetheless, Corum is still an impressive running back that has rushed for over 1,000 yards this year and looks to continue to add on yardage.
To Alabama's benefit, they rank pretty high nationally in run defense and have a stout defensive line that likes to keep things in the trenches rather than allowing backs to bounce to the outside. Yes, we understand Auburn was able to gash Alabama in the running game, but typically when you give Nick Saban and Alabama nearly a month to prepare for a game, the odds are in the good guys' favor.
4.) Alabama Lets Up On the Gas, Rather Than Finish the Job Early On
We have seen it happen, time in and time out this season, where Alabama has the opportunity to put the pedal down on an opponent and truly close out a game. It happened against Texas in Week 2, Texas A&M in Week 6, Arkansas in Week 7, LSU in week 10, Auburn in the Iron Bowl, and even against Georgia in the SEC Championship.
As mentioned before, it really depends on which Alabama team shows up against Michigan, either the team who wants to follow the protocol and dominate, or toy around with their food and slip up at points. As much as I hate to say it, this team struggles with penalties at awful times and could see it biting them when the stage is bright in the Rose Bowl.
5.) Jalen Milroe Does Not Win MVP Of the Game
In the first part of this article, I stated the running game would be extremely vital to the team's success in pulling off a win against Michigan. Yes, Milroe looks to have an MVP worthy game. However, the offensive line makes life hell for the Michigan defensive front, on the way to Alabama rushing for more than 200 yards and leading Alabama to victory by a score of 33-20. The Crimson Tide are thankful for redemption this late in the season and find out they will be facing Texas for the College Football Playoff National Championship, which will be held in Houston, Texas, on January 8, 2024.
Note: Stats are courtesy of NCAA.com/stats.