The Michigan Wolverines and the Alabama Crimson Tide meet in the Vrbo Citrus Bowl on New Years Day in arguably the buzziest non-playoff matchup that bowl season has to offer during the holidays. Despite that, several Michigan fans seem scared off by the matchup because it pits a powerhouse school with talent comparable to Ohio State and is the type of game that the Wolverines generally struggle in.
However, Vegas does not feel the same way about it being a death march of sorts.
Alabama opens as a 7-point favorite in this game with the line down to 6.5 points in some sportsbooks. Of course, the Vegas line can be taken with a grain of salt until we know who, if anyone, on either side of the field will be sitting out to preserve draft status. The current Vegas line is less than Michigan’s game this season at Penn State (-9) and Ohio State (-9.5).
Of course, that does not change the fact that Michigan has not fared all that well as an underdog under Jim Harbaugh. Depending on which line you go by, their lone win in five years under Harbaugh not favored came this year with the 45-14 win over Notre Dame.
This will be the fifth time that the Wolverines and Crimson Tide have met on the field with the all-time series tied at 2-2. The last time they played was in 2012 in the season opener where Alabama beat Michigan 41-14 at Cowboys Stadium. Michigan’s last win over Alabama came in the Orange Bowl in 2000 in a 35-34 overtime victory. The two others meetings took place in the 1997 Outback Bowl (17-14 Alabama) and the 1988 Hall of Fame Bowl (28-24).
Michigan is coming off of a 9-3 regular season that had losses to Wisconsin, Penn State and Ohio State, while Alabama was 10-2 and lost to LSU and Auburn.
The Vrbo Citrus Bowl kicks off at 1 p.m. ET on Jan. 1 from Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida.