CFB: Michigan Wolverines vs. Alabama Crimson Tide Picks

darren cooper
By:
Darren Cooper
30/12/2023/
NCAAF
NCAA Football - Picks and Prediction

It’s a battle of college football titans when No. 1 Michigan takes on No. 4 Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinal Monday, Jan. 1 at the Rose Bowl. The 13-0 Wolverines are led by the nation’s top defense that allowed just 9.5 points a game and star running back Blake Corum who has scored 24 touchdowns this season. Michigan is making its third appearance in the CFP, while the 12-1 Crimson Tide is in it for a record eighth time.

Michigan Wolverines vs. Alabama Crimson Tide Best Odds

Michigan Wolverines vs. Alabama Crimson Analysis

Michigan

Offense, defense, special teams, Michigan doesn’t have one individual player who wows you, they just play hard and play smart. Starting QB J.J. McCarthy is 25-1 in his Wolverines career, with that one loss coming in last year’s CFP semifinal defeat to TCU. Michigan was second in the nation in turnover margin at +17.

Injury Report: Colleges don’t have to give away injury info like the NFL does, but we know the Wolverines suffered a huge loss in the Ohio State game with the injury to star offensive lineman Zak Zinter. The Michigan OL held up fine in the Big 10 championship win over Iowa, but this could be the first time the Wolverines really miss his presence.

Alabama

People wrote off Alabama after an early season loss to Texas, but legendary coach Nick Saban has the Tide back here again, even if there was controversy surrounding their selection. Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe grew into the job and became a legitimate running/passing threat as the season wore on. The strength of the defense is the secondary, led by Kool-Aid McKinstry.

Injury Report: While Alabama doesn’t have to disclose injury information either, there is speculation surrounding Alabama running back Jase McClellan, who missed the SEC Championship game with a foot injury. Saban said Wednesday that McClellan, who had 803 yards and six TDs this season, was on track to play and had practiced, but you never know the gamesmanship between these two coaches.

Michigan Wolverines vs. Alabama Crimson Key Points and Trends 

  • Alabama went 12-1 against the spread this season, and five of its last six games have gone over the total.
  • Michigan went 7-5-1 against the spread in 2023. They have failed to cover the spread in each of their last six Bowl games. The Wolverines have been favored in every game they have played this season.
  • Looking for an anytime scorer? Corum has 57 career touchdowns for the Wolverines and ranks second all-time in the modern Michigan football era. 

Michigan Wolverines vs. Alabama Crimson Match Prediction

Thinking about this game for weeks, I kept coming back to one unfortunate thought for Michigan fans. Has the defense faced an offense like Alabama’s this year? While Michigan ran over the Big 10, what Big 10 team aside from Ohio State, or maybe Penn State, could attack the Wolverines defense from so many angles?

This isn’t a vintage Alabama team. There’s no number 1 draft pick at wide receiver or defensive tackle who can single-handily take over the game, but there’s depth and confidence all over. The Tide’s defense has faced three Top 10 offenses in the country: Texas, LSU and Georgia, and held its own. The best offense Michigan faced was Ohio State’s and it ranked 32.

Michigan will have to find a way to contain Milroe, while getting Corum some room on the ground. So much of what the Wolverines do is based on the ground game. The good news is that Alabama’s rushing defense is only so-so -- for them -- they allowed 125 yards per game on the ground. 

It looks like Alabama can score. It looks like Michigan can score too.

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.