Citrus Bowl: Michigan vs. Alabama Pick

by | Dec 16, 2019 | cfb

No. 14 Michigan Wolverines (9-3 SU, 7-5 ATS) vs. No. 13 Alabama Crimson Tide (10-2 SU, 6-6 ATS)

VRBO Citrus Bowl Prediction

Date/Time: Wednesday January 1st, 2020. 1:00PM (EST)

Where: Camping World Stadium Orlando, F.L.

TV: ABC

Point Spread: MICH +7/ALA -7 (Bovada - Bet your Citrus Bowl pick FREE - Deposit $100 and get $50 added to your account FREE!)

Over/Under Total: 59

For the first time in College Football Playoff history, the Alabama Crimson Tide will not be apart of the playoffs in hopes of another national championship. The Crimson Tide’s 2nd loss of the season in the Iron Bowl to Auburn was the dagger that ended Alabama’s playoff streak and perhaps some causality could be pointed to the critical loss of QB Tua Tagovailoa two weeks prior to that game. Now the no. 13 Crimson Tide will travel to Orlando to meet the no. 14 Michigan Wolverines at Camping World Stadium in the VRBO Citrus Bowl.

While Alabama’s season did not go according to plan, the Wolverines fan base has spewed the most criticism following a blowout loss against rival Ohio State in the finale which marked the 8th straight loss to the Buckeyes. With criticism mounting around the Jim Harbaugh regime, this Citrus Bowl match-up against one of the best programs in college football could be Michigan’s opportunity to deliver a resounding victory to restore faith for the Wolverines faithful. Currently, Michigan is listed as 7 point underdogs but the betting public is backing the Crimson Tide with extreme confidence. Over 80% of the current betting action has favored the Crimson Tide and I can’t say I disagree with the public’s perception after breaking down this Citrus Bowl pairing.

Jim Harbaugh looking for rare postseason success

 

One of the main reasons that Michigan fans are growing restless is because Harbaugh has consistently come up short in the biggest games. The Wolverines had a few signature wins this season against Iowa and a really impressive performance in a blowout over Notre Dame. However, they lost 3 conference games in each instance they were listed as underdogs. It is something that has happened far too often in Harbaugh’s tenure in Ann Arbor. I went back and checked Michigan’s history over the last 5 seasons to uncover that the Wolverines are just 3-7 ATS when listed as an underdog under Harbaugh’s rule which is not exactly the type of trend you want to see for a program desperate to be among the nation’s elite.

In this Citrus Bowl match-up, Harbaugh will have the opportunity to regain some confidence against what many consider the best coach in the country and arguably all-time in Alabama’s Nick Saban. I would also point out that both coaches shared some hostile comments back and forth before the season began. Therefore, I am sure there will be extra incentive to have their players ready for this match-up. If we look at trends, Harbaugh is just 1-3 in prior bowl games at Michigan while Alabama is 11-5 under Saban in all postseason games for comparison reasons. For Harbaugh to turn things around, he will have to get creative because this match-up against Alabama appears to be an uphill challenge.

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Michigan vs. Alabama match-up breakdown

 

If you are wondering why I spent so much time talking about the coaches, it’s because coaching is an important aspect in postseason bowl games when championships are not on the line. Preparation for the match-up and getting players motivated are huge components to getting the job done in the postseason which is why coaching trends are worthy of discussion. In terms of the on-field match-up, my biggest obstacle with Michigan is that I just don’t see any match-ups where the Wolverines will have the advantage. To summarize, the Wolverines offense is a run-heavy group that rarely produces any big plays in the passing game. QB Shea Patterson has completed just 57% passing on the season and honestly is more of a game manager until the team gets into desperate situations. I just don’t see Michigan’s rushing attack being overly effective against this Alabama defense.

On the other side of the field, Michigan’s defense has plenty of talent that could potentially keep them in this game. With QB Mac Jones, Alabama is not as dangerous on offense but they are still dangerous. Jones has produced in everyone of his starts this year completing passes at a high rate with 11 touchdowns and just 3 picks. The Crimson Tide offense still has one of the most elite receiving groups in the nation with Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III, and Devonta Smith. Not to mention, Najee Harris has provided some great performances through the 2nd half of the year on the ground. The biggest concern with these playmakers is that everyone, with the exception of QB Mac Jones, is eligible for the NFL Draft. Therefore there is the possibility that these players choose to forego the bowl game in preparation for the draft. At this time, those individuals have not made any indication that they would not be playing and if that remains the same; Alabama will be the team to bet on primarily because of the weapons on offense.

Michigan vs. Alabama betting trends

 

Before the loss to Ohio State, Michigan had covered 5 straight games ATS. However, Michigan failed to cover every game this year as an underdog going 0-3 on the season. The Wolverines have trended towards the “over” in regards to the total hitting the mark in 10 of their last 14 games. Meanwhile, Alabama has trended at the .500 mark throughout the year finishing with a 6-6 record ATS. The Crimson Tide has covered 6 of their last 7 games against Big 10 teams and has hit the “over” in 7 of their last 8 postseason games.

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