Michigan Wolverines vs Alabama Crimson Tide
When: 1:00 PM ET, Wednesday, January 1, 2020
Where: Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
VRBO CITRUS BOWL STORYLINES
- No. 9 Alabama looks to get over the disappointment of missing out on the College Football Playoff for the first time when it faces 17th-ranked Michigan in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1 in Orlando, Fla. The Crimson Tide appeared in all five previous editions of the playoff, winning national championships in 2015 and 2017, and seemed poised to earn another berth, but losses to top-ranked LSU (46-41) and No. 13 Auburn (48-45) in the month of November derailed their championship ambitions. “Everybody has to refocus their mindset when playing in this game,” Alabama coach Nick Saban told reporters. “I think we have a lot of reasons to play well so we can vindicate some of the disappointments we had in our season.”
- Michigan hopes to end a disappointing campaign with a signature win after suffering another blowout loss to No. 2 Ohio State. The Wolverines failed up to live up to their lofty preseason expectations as they dropped a pair of games to No. 11 Wisconsin and 12th-ranked Penn State to bow out of the race for the Big Ten championship before getting routed by the Buckeyes 56-27, which was their eighth straight loss in the rivalry, and aim to placate a frustrated fan base by registering their first bowl win since Jan. 1, 2016. “We lost some big games this year, but this is just another opportunity to play a big-time team,” Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson told reporters. “To put that on the resume for this season would be huge.”
- The Crimson Tide have fared well against Big Ten opponents recently, compiling a 7-1 overall record since 2010, and hope to continue their dominance in their first meeting with Michigan since a 41-14 win in the Advocare Classic in 2012. Alabama will be without linebacker Terrell Lewis and cornerback Trevon Diggs, who both opted to sit out the game to prepare for the NFL Draft, but received a big boost with the news that wide receivers Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III and DeVonta Smith will all play despite being projected to be drafted in the first round. Michigan will have a full complement of players at its disposal after defensive stars Rashan Gary and Devin Bush, who were drafted in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, sat out last year’s Peach Bowl loss to Florida.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, ABC. LINE: Alabama -7
ABOUT MICHIGAN (9-3): Shea Patterson accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl after overcoming a sluggish start of the season to finish with 2,828 passing yards and 22 touchdowns, including 10 TDs in his last three games. Junior wide receivers Nico Collins and Donovan Peoples-Jones could be playing their last game for the Wolverines as they mull over a decision to go pro while senior defensive stalwarts Lavert Hill and Khaleke Hudson are suiting up for the last time. Right guard Ben Bredeson was named a third-team All American by the Associated Press while wide receiver Tarik Black, who battled foot injuries for the previous two years, will miss the game after revealing that he entered the transfer portal.
ABOUT ALABAMA (10-2): Mac Jones will make his third consecutive start after Tua Tagovailoa dislocated his right hip in the 38-7 win over Mississippi State on Nov. 16, and might have played his last game for the Crimson Tide, as he will decide whether to declare for the NFL Draft in the upcoming weeks. Jeudy was named to the All-SEC first team after hauling in 71 passes for 959 yards and nine touchdowns. Running back Najee Harris, who chose the Crimson Tide over the Wolverines in a fierce recruiting battle, racked up 1,088 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns to go along with 27 receptions for 304 and seven scores.
PREDICTION: Alabama 42, Michigan 31