CFB: After all the chaos, Michigan stands as No. 1

darren cooper
By:
Darren Cooper
04/12/2023/
NCAAF

Highlights

  • No. 1 Michigan will face No. 4 Alabama in the Rose Bowl Game Jan. 1 at 5 p.m. It’s also a College Football Playoff semifinal.
  • Michigan has never won a CFP game, while Alabama is 6-1 in semifinals and 3-3 in national championship games.
  • Alabama was a controversial pick as the No. 4 team over undefeated Florida State.

College football sure loves a good drama.  

And Michigan is now the leading player.

After a wild weekend of college football, the 13-0 Wolverines are the No. 1 team in the College Football Playoff rankings and will travel to Pasadena, California for the Rose Bowl Game/CFP semifinal to take on perennial power Alabama Jan. 1.

Expect the line to shift for the next few weeks on Michigan sportsbooks as the money pours in. For now, DraftKings and BetRivers each have the Wolverines as 1.5-point favorites and the total around 46 points.

One Lock, One Controversy 

No one is questioning the Wolverines placement in the CFP. The Wolverines earned their third straight appearance in the CFP with a 26-0 win over Iowa in the Big Ten title game – we told you to take the under.

Michigan benefitted from a clueless Iowa offense, a big punt return and a weird fumble call to pound the Hawkeyes.

Alabama upset two-time defending champs Georgia to win the SEC title, but that threw the CFP committee into chaos. There were five teams with great resumes for four spots. Alabama knocked out 13-0 Florida State for the last spot for a lot of reasons, but the biggest is, well, they’re Alabama. The injury to Seminoles starting QB Jordan Travis also matters and gives the CFP committee some cover.

How Bout Them Tide? 

Alabama flew under the radar – for them – this season, losing a Week 3 game to Texas, who also made the CFP after winning the Big 12, and briefly benching starting quarterback Jalen Milroe.

The Tide needed a miracle to beat rival Auburn, and don’t have the one or two (or five) NFL first round picks who immediately jump off the screen.

Milroe has been very good since he was benched, throwing for 2,718 yards and 23 touchdowns. Leading running back Jase McClellan didn’t play against Georgia with a foot injury (expect that to be a storyline leading into the Rose Bowl). But what Alabama has done all year is find a way to win.

Alabama won the CFP title in 2021, and lost to Georgia in the title game in 2022. A CFP without Alabama is like Christmas without Santa. The other semifinal pits Big 12 champ Texas against Pac 12 champ Washington.

The Michigan Men 

Michigan has weathered the sign stealing/scouting controversy and the two suspensions of coach Jim Harbaugh this season. Running back Blake Corum is now tied for the record for most rushing touchdowns all-time by a Wolverine (55).

But the Wolverines calling card this year is a defense that allowed a nation-low 9.5 points per game.

Michigan will play in its 21st Rose Bowl, and 51st bowl game in history. It’s No. 1 in the rankings for the first time since 1997, but it has never won a CFP game, losing to Georgia in the Orange Bowl 34-11, and losing the wild one to TCU last year 51-45.

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.