It is almost impossible to find an Alabama football fan who lacks confidence in a Crimson Tide Rose Bowl victory. There is considerable optimism among Michigan fans as well, but it is sometimes tempered with conditional 'if' scenarios. As in if J.J. McCarthy plays the best game of his career.
Looking beyond the perspectives of fans, there must be some solid reasoning why the Wolverines are ranked No. 1. I have been gathering such information for weeks in an attempt to determine how good the Wolverines really are.
Could it be that many AP Poll voters overvalue the Big Ten to the point that Michigan's wins over Ohio State and Penn State falsely portray the strength of Michigan's team? Michigan's other 11 wins certainly don't indicate a slam-dunk No. 1 team.
I am waiting to provide a score prediction, but my perspective has not changed through the weeks of learning about Michigan. Alabama is the better team because it has a more talented roster with more game-changing players. The Crimson Tide will not be 'out-prepared' or 'out-coached' and will win.
To test the validity of my enthusiasm, an unbiased source of Michigan information was needed. I chose Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports. Fornelli is unbiased and unlike many does not throw out claims just to raise eyebrows. He thinks Michigan has been college football's "most dominant team" this season.
I disagree with Fornelli, but I am willing to consider other points he makes about Michigan, which might be spot on.
Why Michigan will beat Alabama Football (per Fornelli)
- Michigan does not turn the ball over often; only seven times this season. In turnover margin, the Wolverines are No. 2 among FBS teams. More impressive is the Wolverines are college football's best team in turning turnovers into points.
- Without diving into the stats, Michigan is good at creating quarterback pressure without a heavy reliance on blitz packages. If the Wolverines can do that against the Crimson Tide, extra defenders is coverage and/or spying Jalen Milroe could effectively slow the Tide offense.
- Fornelli makes another key point that favors Michigan. The Wolverines have the best missed tackle rate in college football at 8.9%.
It did not take Tom Fornelli to convince me Michigan is a disciplined, well-coached team. The Wolverines are college football's least penalized team with an average of just 2.9 penalties per game. In addition, Michigan has a roster filled with experience. Nearly 40% of the Michigan roster includes senior and senior-plus players. As a team, they play smart and composed football.
The Crimson Tide, playing at its 'A-Game' best, is too much for the Wolverines. But at a level below that, Michigan will be prepared to take advantage of Alabama's mistakes.