Michigan 27, Alabama 20

Tag: Alabama

2Jan 2024
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Michigan 27, Alabama 20

J.J. McCarthy, Jim Harbaugh, and Blake Corum (image via Mark Terrill/AP)

Michigan was the better team. I predicted a 27-24 loss to the Crimson Tide, so I wasn’t too far off on how the game would feel – I thought it would be a close game that came down to the end. But from the get-go, it seemed like Michigan had the superior team on a down-to-down basis. They sacked Jalen Milroe on four out of his first six dropbacks, and the offensive line was holding up fairly well. Alabama’s offense averaged 4.36 yards per play, while Michigan’s averaged 5.95.

Hit the jump for more.

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1Jan 2024
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Michigan’s 10 Longest Plays vs. Alabama

Jamie Morris (image via MLive)

Michigan is 2-3 against the Alabama Crimson Tide. They first met in the Hall of Fame Bowl following the 1987 season, followed by the Outback Bowl in 1996, the Orange Bowl following the 1999 season, a regular season meeting in 2012, and then the Outback Bowl again following the 2019 season.

  1. Jamie Morris 77-yard TD run (1987)
  2. Denard Robinson 71-yard pass to Jeremy Gallon (2012)
  3. Tom Brady 57-yard TD pass to David Terrell (1999)
  4. Giles Jackson 50-yard kickoff return (2019)
  5. Denard Robinson 44-yard TD pass to Devin Gardner (2012)
  6. Shea Patterson 40-yard pass to Giles Jackson (2019)
  7. Shea Patterson 34-yard pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones (2019)
  8. Dennis Norfleet 33-yard kickoff return (2012)
  9. Jamie Morris 31-yard run (1987)
  10. Tom Brady 28-yard pass to Marquise Walker (1999)

Hit the jump for a video of Morris going 77 yards for the TD in the Hall of Fame Bowl and for the long TD pass from Brady to Terrell.

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1Jan 2024
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Rose Bowl Preview: Michigan Defense vs. Alabama Offense, Prediction

Jalen Milroe (image via Alabama Athletics)

Michigan is #6 in rush defense (87.1 yards allowed/game) and yards allowed per carry (2.93). They have only allowed 7 rushing touchdowns all year (tied for #4), and 3 of those were “tush push” plays against Maryland. The team that had the most success against Michigan was Penn State, and that was with a quarterback who ran 10 times for 49 yards and 1 touchdown in Drew Allar. Allar isn’t that mobile of a quarterback, so he caught Michigan by surprise a little bit with some of his runs. Linebacker Junior Colson leads the team with 79 tackles, despite playing a chunk of the season with casts on his hands. In fact, three of his top four tackle totals have come in the past four weeks while injured. Michigan is #72 in tackles for loss (5.54 per game), led by OLB Jaylen Harrell with 8.0 and DE Braiden McGregor with 7.0. Alabama has a massive offensive line, with three starters listed at 352 pounds . . . or more. That includes standout junior right tackle J.C. Latham (6’5″, 360), who is expected by some to be the first tackle taken in the 2024 NFL Draft. But it also includes freshman left tackle Kadyn Proctor (6’7″, 360), who has struggled at times, though he has improved in the latter half of the season. That line has powered a team that ranks #46 nationally in rushing (172.69 yards/game) and #64 in yards per carry (4.33). Senior RB Jase McClellan (5’11”, 212) has 166 carries for 803 yards and 6 touchdowns to lead the way for the Crimson Tide, but he may not be available due to injury. His backup is senior Roydell Williams (5’10”, 214), who has 110 carries for 561 yards and 5 touchdowns. But the X factor is QB Jalen Milroe (6’2″, 220), who leads the team with 12 touchdowns and has run for 468 yards this year.
Advantage: Michigan, with the caveat that Milroe could be a huge X factor. He has two 100-yard rushing games, including 20 carries for 155 yards and 4 touchdowns against LSU. Michigan has yet to see a true dual-threat QB.

Michigan is #2 in pass defense (152.6 yards allowed/game), #4 in passing efficiency defense, and #5 with 5.8 yards allowed per attempt. They have allowed 7 touchdowns and nabbed 16 interceptions, led by nickel corner Mike Sainristil with 5 picks. Michigan is #38 in sacks per game (2.46), led by Harrell with 6.5 and fellow OLB Josaiah Stewart with 4.5. Star CB Will Johnson missed the Iowa game and half of the Ohio State game, but he’s supposedly healthy and ready to go for the Rose Bowl. He has 3 interceptions and 4 pass breakups this year. Alabama is #61 in passing (228.5 yards/game) but #5 in yards per attempt (9.8) and #8 in passing efficiency. Milroe is completing 65.5% of his throws for 2,718 yards, 10.4 yards per attempt, 23 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions. He has 10 touchdowns and 1 interception in his past four games, which contrasts with Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy’s 1 touchdown and 1 interception during the final stretch. The Crimson Tide have allowed 3.31 sacks per game, which is #118 in the nation. Senior WR Jermaine Burton (6’0″, 194) is a home run threat averaging 22.2 yards/catch (35 catches, 777 yards) and leading the team with 8 receiving touchdowns. Sophomore WR Isaiah Bond (5’11”, 182) is the #2 guy with 44 catches, 621 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Sophomore Amari Niblack (6’4″, 233) is a tight end by name, but his 19 catches for 321 yards (16.9 yards/catch) and 4 touchdowns show he’s a big play threat, and he moves more like a receiver.
Advantage: Michigan. Burton is the most dangerous threat, but if Will Johnson is healthy, he can hopefully help limit Burton’s number of touches. Again, the big factor here is what happens if Michigan’s pass rush can’t get to Milroe.


  • Alabama 27, Michigan 24. Maybe it’s just PTSD from the last couple times Michigan has played Alabama and then the Georgia game in 2021, but overall, I don’t see Michigan matching up with the speed Alabama has all around. That’s especially true at edge rusher, where I think Alabama is going to cause a lot of problems for McCarthy and the passing game. A lot of people are saying McCarthy is going to have to play his best game, and I don’t see how that happens with the pass protection problems Michigan has had.
31Dec 2023
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Rose Bowl Preview: Michigan Pass Offense vs. Alabama Defense

Terrion Arnold (image via Alabama Athletics)

Michigan ranks #73 in passing offense (218.8 yards/game), but they’re #5 in passing efficiency and #14 in yards per attempt (9.0). Quarterback J.J. McCarthy was reportedly banged up for the last few weeks of the season, and some in Michigan circles have pointed to that being a major factor while he had a statistically mediocre run to end the regular season and then into the Big Ten Championship Game. McCarthy has thrown just 1 touchdown and 1 interception in the last five games, though he completed 68.6% of his throws during that time and twice topped the 80% mark. Michigan’s vaunted offensive line was leaky in pass protection, especially on whichever side tackle Karsen Barnhart was manning. Now that Barnhart has slid inside to replace injured right guard Zak Zinter, things may improve in pass pro a little. It will be interesting to see whether Myles Hinton or Trente Jones takes on the full-time right tackle position, since Jones has played a ton of the “extra tight end” role. Michigan’s best matchups at pass catcher are at tight end, where Colston Loveland (40 catches, 572 yards, 4 TD) and A.J. Barner (22 catches, 249 yards, 1 TD) reside. The leading overall receiver is speedy Roman Wilson, who has 41 catches for 662 yards and 11 touchdowns on the year. The wild card is RB Donovan Edwards (30 catches, 249 yards), who can create matchup issues with linebackers if used judiciously.

Alabama is #24 in pass defense (188.8 yards allowed/game) and #17 in pass efficiency defense, allowing 14 touchdowns while making 12 interceptions (#42). Their 6.4 yards allowed/attempt is tied for #15 nationally. The NFL builds around cornerbacks and pass rushers, and Alabama has some of the best in the country. They have two potential 1st round cornerbacks in redshirt sophomore Terrion Arnold (6’0″, 196), who has 5 interceptions and 11 pass breakups, and junior Kool-Aid McKinstry (6’1″, 195), who has 7 pass breakups. The Crimson Tide rank #13 in sacks (2.92 per game). They have three players with 7+ sacks, including OLB Dallas Turner (6’4″, 252) with 9.0, senior OLB Chris Braswell (6’3″, 255) with 8.0, and fifth year senior DE Justin Egboigbe (6’5″, 292) with 7.0. For comparison, the last time Michigan had three players with 7+ sacks in one season was . . . never.

Advantage: Alabama. Michigan’s receivers are going to have a tough time uncovering against Arnold and McKinstry, so the Wolverines are going to have to rely heavily on what they can get over the middle with the tight ends and running backs. I would expect Colston Loveland to lead Michigan in receiving in this one, but the pass rush could be a major issue if Barnhart and company can’t hold up. Michigan has really struggled to throw the ball explosively against teams with decent pass rushers (Penn State, Ohio State, Iowa, etc.), and I don’t know why that would change here in the CFP.

27Dec 2023
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Rose Bowl Preview: Michigan Rush Offense vs. Alabama Defense

Alabama safety Caleb Downs (image via Alabama Athletics)

Michigan ranks #61 in rushing offense (161.8 yards/game), #71 in yards per carry (4.27), and #4 in rushing touchdowns. The Wolverines went from a heavy rush offense the past two years to more of a balanced attack this season. So despite having a talented and very experienced offensive line, the rushing numbers have dropped off some. Blake Corum topped 1,000 yards this season, but he needed the Big Ten Championship Game against Iowa to get there (218 carries, 1028 yards, 24 TD). Star running back Donovan Edwards is somehow the second least efficient running back in the Big Ten (3.5 yards/carry). The offensive line had to reshuffle during the Ohio State game after losing All-American right guard Zak Zinter to a broken leg. The good news is that he was replaced at guard by Karsen Barnhart, who seems to perform better at guard than tackle. The bad news is that new right tackle Trente Jones used to be Michigan’s sixth lineman in the jumbo package, so now perhaps that package is gone. Possibly, though, the coaching staff could spend the bowl practices incorporating someone else – such as backup Myles Hinton – as the jumbo tight end.

Alabama is #31 in rush defense (124.5 yards allowed/game) and #33 in yards allowed per carry (3.7). They have allowed 14 rushing touchdowns this season, which is tied for #39 in the country. Although the team has improved overall throughout the season, the rushing defense has arguably got worse. Ten out of those 14 rushing touchdowns allowed have come in the last five games, while LSU and Auburn have run for 8.6 and 5.8 yards per carry, respectively. LSU has Heisman-winning dual-threat QB Jayden Daniels, but Auburn has . . . nobody noteworthy. The leading tackler for the Crimson Tide is true freshman strong safety Caleb Downs (6’0″, 203 lbs.), who has an amazing 99 stops. He’s followed by sophomore LB Jihaad Campbell (6’3″, 230), who has 65 tackles but is listed as a backup; redshirt sophomore CB Terrion Arnold (6’0″, 196) with 61; redshirt sophomore LB Deontae Lawson (6’2″, 230) with 61; and fifth year senior DE Justin Egboigbe (6’5″, 292) with 60. Egboigbe and OLB Dallas Turner (6’4″, 252) are the guys to watch to be making plays in the backfield. While the interior defensive line play has not been outstanding, the Tide have a couple huge starting tackles in redshirt sophomore Tim Kennan III (6’2″, 315) at nose tackle and sophomore DT Jaheim Oatis (6’5″, 320).

Advantage: Alabama. The overall numbers and recent history favor the opponent. Michigan has been overwhelmed at the line of scrimmage in recent years against SEC opponents like Alabama and Georgia. I don’t see that getting much better now that Michigan will be without its best offensive lineman. Michigan has not had explosive plays in the run game this season, so unless J.J. McCarthy can become a bigger factor and channel his inner Jayden Daniels, I expect Michigan to struggle a little. I do think they’ll find some success – it won’t be a total bloodbath in the trenches – but Michigan will have to be creative and balanced.