CFB: 2024 Rose Bowl preview – The Defenses for Michigan and Alabama

NCAA Football Sports News


  • No. 1 Michigan will battle No. 4 Alabama in the 2024 Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Jan. 1, 2024. This is also a College Football Playoff semifinal.
  • In the second part of our previews for the Rose Bowl, we look at the strengths and weaknesses of each team’s defenses.
  • The Wolverines remains a small favorite according to the top Michigan sportsbooks.

For the 2024 Rose Bowl, defense is where it’s at.

Both Michigan and Alabama have tremendous defensive units which will be on display in the college football playoff semifinal. Could it be first team to 20 points wins? That’s how good both of these defenses are. They don’t give up much.

The odds and betting line have stayed steady at Michigan sportsbooks for the Rose Bowl. BetRivers, BetMGM and PointsBet all have the Wolverines as 1.5-point favorites, but as the game draws closer, don’t be surprised to see the line get adjusted which is why you may want to get a bet in now.

Here’s a look at how the Michigan and Alabama defenses compare.

By The Numbers 

I found something slightly discouraging if you’re a Michigan fan in that all of these stats should be taken with a grain of salt in that Alabama faced three of the top 10 offenses in the country: LSU, Georgia and Texas.

Big Ten football is great, but the best offense Michigan faced all year was Ohio State and they ranked No. 37 in total offense. So is Michigan’s defense that good? Or are all the other offenses in the Big Ten that bad? Here’s what the numbers show.

Scoring defense: Michigan 9.5 points per game/Alabama 18.4

Rushing defense: Michigan 86.6 yards per game/Alabama 124.5

Passing defense: Michigan 100.8 yards per game/Alabama 188.8

Interceptions: Michigan 16/Alabama 12

Talking The Tide D 

Alabama’s defense is built from the back, meaning the secondary is where the bulk of the talent is. Kool-Aid McKinstry (real name: Ga’Quincy, but his grandmother said his smile reminded her of the Kool-Aid Main hence the nickname) is a lock-down corner on one side, rated No. 11 among NFL draft prospects by Mel Kiper.

And on the other side of the secondary is Terrion Arnold, who led the Tide with five picks. Both McKinstry and Arnold had premier size and speed.

Linebacker Dallas Turner led the Tide with nine sacks, and is their big pressure guy, but the Tide did struggle at times on defense. Texas torched them passing for 349 yards and three TDs, while Auburn ran for 244 yards in the Iron Bowl. But this is Alabama, the defense is big and fast.

The Mighty Michigan D 

Michigan led the nation in scoring defense, but again, I am compelled to point out that Iowa, Minnesota and Michigan State weren’t exactly offensive machines.

If you’ve watched Michigan all season you know the defense isn’t about one or two players. Collectively, they’re smart and always in the right position. The guy I love is Mike Sainristil who finished with five interceptions this year and always seems to make a play. Will Johnson made second-team All-American at cornerback.

Junior Colson leads Michigan with 79 tackles and Jaylen Harrell had 6.5 sacks.

What’s amazing about the Michigan D is they’ve literally not had a bad performance. Penn State ran the ball effectively some, Ohio State threw the ball…some. But no one has broken the Wolverines defense.

Born and raised in Louisiana, Darren Cooper has a fond appreciation for bayous, Mardi Gras beads and the sports betting industry. Darren has worked for multiple print and online publications since 1998, primarily as a sports columnist in the Northeast. He’s covered a Super Bowl (it was a blowout), the World Series (same) and the NBA Draft (man, those guys are tall). For the last few years he’s dug deep into the sports gambling industry as it exploded across America, learning how the legal sausage is made and how while all the sportsbooks look the same, they all have different identities and styles. He’s learned to always bet within his means -- and take the under. When not in front of his computer creating, Darren spends time with his three boys. He runs, reads and is always looking for the next big thing to write about.