The Michigan Wolverines and Alabama Crimson Tide will be facing off on New Year’s Day in the Citrus Bowl, and it sounds like both teams will be taking the tilt seriously.
“I don’t think anybody is going to sit out,” Michigan defensive end Kwity Paye said on Sunday night. “We should end the season strong. I feel like a lot of the seniors didn’t end the season strong. I feel like this is another way to do that in a way.”
This is a new era of college football, an era in which we’re seeing an increase in the amount of draft-eligible players sitting out bowl games. However, Michigan players will be bucking that trend.
“I wouldn’t expect anyone that can play to not play. We’re playing a very good Alabama team and you perform there, you create a very good situation for yourself going forward,” linebacker Jordan Glasgow said. “If anyone wants to sit out, I would say not to. I’d recommend not to because it’s a very good team and we have an opportunity to leave the team on a good note.”
This isn’t your typical bowl game match-up, a lot of eyes, including the eyes of NFL scouts, will be keyed in on Michigan vs. Alabama. For those who perform well, as Glasgow said, they’ll create a very good situation for themselves.
Even Alabama receiver Jerry Jeudy will be playing in the game, who ranks as the No. 3 overall prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft, and top wideout per CBS Sports. “I’m playing in the bowl game. There’s no reason to not play!!!!,” Jeudy said on Twitter.
Jeudy playing in the bowl could be the type of decision that influences draft-eligible teammates to play. And as head coach Nick Saban explained, Alabama has something to prove.
“Our team has been a little disappointed in the way we finished the season, so this is an opportunity for us to sort of show who we are and try to get back to playing to the ‘Bama standard,” Saban said last week. “I think that this is an opportunity for us to sort of try to re-establish the standard that we want to play to. I think when you play against a great opponent that certainly enhances that opportunity.”
Michigan’s started practicing for the bowl game, and all healthy players have been participating in the practices. “We’ve all been practicing, so there’s no one sitting out practice,” Paye said.
Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson is optimistic that no one will sit out against Bama. “Hopefully, nobody is sitting out,” Patterson said. “I talked to (safety) Josh Metellus, and we’re playing. I don’t think anyone has any room to sit out. If anything, it’s an opportunity for the seniors. If they’re thinking about sitting out, it would only hurt them. It depends on your situation, but any time you have an opportunity to go out there and compete against the best in the country, it’s another chance to improve yourself.”
For both teams, it’s a chance to end the season in a positive manner after both losing their last game. “I think everybody sees it as the same thing, it’s been used about 20 different times. It’s an opportunity. It’s exactly what it is,” Michigan guard Ben Bredeson said. “It’s the chance for us to show everybody what we can do this year. It’d be a nice way to end the year. Nice way to end the year, especially after losing this last game at home. It would mean a lot to the seniors and everybody to win this one.”
Jim Harbaugh has said the finishing what you started is his general rule, and Michigan has a shot to do that against Alabama and pick up their tenth win.
“We want that tenth win, we want it against Bama,” Harbaugh said.