Alabama football is back in the College Football Playoff. For the first time since 2021, the Crimson Tide will play on New Year’s Day on the national stage.
AU players believe they’ve been doubted on their path, reeling off 11 straight wins after a 1-1 start and dethroning Georgia as Southeast Conference champion. But No. 4 Alabama faces a formidable test in No. 1 Michigan that, at least statistically, ranks as the best in the country.
Both teams were asked about their success, or lack thereof, in the case of the Wolverines. Michigan made the playoffs in consecutive seasons, but never advanced past the first round. Meanwhile, Nick Saban can win his eighth national title and fourth in the current era.
“I think every team develops its own character by how they play and how they compete, and that’s something that every team has to earn,” Saban said Saturday when asked about the performance factor. intimidation that the Alabama dynasty brings to the playoffs. “…I think you want to play at a high level, and that’s always the goal. If it creates an advantage for you, so be it.”
Before the 4 p.m. start on New Year’s Day, here’s who the pundits and national media are predicting the Alabama-Michigan victory.
Adam Rittenberg called the UA a “flawed team” and gave the Tide a 31-23 advantage.
When interviewed on ESPN’s College Gameday, the Ole Miss head coach joked that he was set up by host Kirk Herbstreit, but sided with his former boss.
Under most site choices, we’re looking at an Alabama-Washington national championship. Five of the six writers chose Saban and co.
Pate chose Alabama. The On3 analyst said on The Next Round that it’s as “simple” as Tide not committing a turnover.
Seven of the site’s eight pickers went with Alabama. The only downfielder was David Cobb, giving UM the lead with a 1.5 point gap and a straight line. Writer Tom Fornelli explained his choice by pointing to Michigan’s past losses in the CFP.
The site’s prediction was 30-19 in favor of the Wolverines, the technical favorites by 1.5 points.
I can’t do much better than last time. After a year of watching the SEC struggle (especially considering the impending arrivals of Texas and Oklahoma), I’m not sure what to think of the Big 10 and Michigan, especially after Bowl season.
But what I do know is that Alabama discussed Michigan as if it were Georiga or an equally talented group; Wolverines JJ McCarthy has the combination of athleticism and arm talent (if healthy) that has caused UA’s defensive meltdowns. That being said, Alabama’s front seven is well-positioned to gobble up Michigan’s gambling and physical offense. UM also hasn’t seen anyone like Jalen Milroe, no disrespect to Alex Orji.
The Crimson Tide will force a key turnover late and Milroe and co. will book a trip to Houston.
Pick: Alabama 27, Michigan 17
Nick Alvarez is a reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @nick_a_alvarez or send him an email to NAlvarez@al.com.
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