The Michigan Wolverines are officially set to face the Alabama Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoff. The two teams will meet in the Rose Bowl with a chance to advance to the National Championship and face the winner of Washington vs. Texas. Despite being the No. 1 seed, it could be argued Michigan still got the toughest draw of opponents with Alabama entering the contest as white-hot SEC Champions.
It will be a difficult challenge for the Wolverines, but this isn’t the Alabama of old or even the Alabama team Michigan lost to, 35-16, in the Citrus Bowl in Jan. 2020. And this certainly isn’t the Michigan of old or 2020, either. This is a heavyweight clash between two blue-blood programs with everything on the line.
Here is a 30,000-foot view of how the two teams match up across several key statistical categories. Each number represents the respective national ranking in that category. Of course, these numbers don’t tell the full story, but they can give you an idea of where certain battles will be won or lost that will affect the outcome of this game.
Michigan: 68th (Passing: 75; Rushing: 60)
Alabama: 54th (Passing: 61; Rushing: 49)
Tackles for loss Allowed
Michigan: 2nd (Passing: 2; Rushing: 6)
Alabama: 18th (Passing: 23; Rushing: 33)
Opponent Third-Down Conversions
Opponent Fourth-Down Conversions
Tackles for loss
Field Goal Percentage
Opponent Kick Return
Opponent Punt Return
Time of Possession
There seem to be decent advantage for Michigan in this matchup — Michigan’s defensive line vs. Alabama’s offensive line. The Crimson Tide give up 3.31 sacks per game, while the Wolverine defense compiles about 2.5 sacks per game. The Tide have improved since a really rough start to the season in this category, but Jalen Milroe was sacked four times against Georgia in the SEC Championship.
But Bama’s got a quality defensive unit as well — ranking No. 17 in scoring defense, No. 18 in total defense, and ranking as a top-10 defensive unit on SP+. The Tide have only give up more than 30 points just once all season, in the early-season loss to Texas.
The stats say this should be a hard-fought battle in the trenches, but we will take a closer look at this matchup on Maize n Brew as we get closer to New Year’s Day.