Alabama vs


at Pasadena
Mon, Jan 1
2:00 PM Pacific
Rotation: 279
Odds: Michigan -2, Total: 45.5

Game Analysis

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Michigan (-2) 23   Alabama  21

This game is a toss-up as far as I’m concerned. The math predicts Michigan by a bit more than the number but Alabama has a history of success against better teams and Michigan has failed in the playoffs in two other opportunities.

Alabama’s offense has been 1.3 yards per play better than average with Jalen Milroe at quarterback, averaging 6.4 yppl against FBS teams that would combine to allow 5.1 yppl, which doesn’t include their horrible week 3 game against USF when Milroe was benched. The Tide attack hasn’t been quite as good against elite defensive teams, as they were +1.0 yppl in games against Texas, Texas A&M, and Georgia (5.6 yppl against teams that would allow 4.6 yppl) and Michigan’s defense is on par with Georgia, as the best they’ve faced this season.

Michigan has yielded only 9.5 points per game on 4.1 yppl (not including garbage time when backups were in) to teams that would combine to average 5.4 yppl against an average defensive unit. That unit only faced one other elite offensive team and they gave up 24 and 6.5 yppl in that game to Ohio State, who rates about the same as Alabama offensively. The only other good offense that Michigan faced was Maryland and the Terps also scored 24 points, although on just 4.3 yppl. The Wolverines were 1.4 yppl better than average defensively in those two games against good offensive teams but they were just 0.6 yppl better than average against the Buckeyes. I project 305 yard at 5.6 yppl for Alabama in this game (not yet adjusted for weather).

Michigan’s offense averaged 36.7 points per game and 6.4 yppl (with QB McCarthy in the game) against teams that would allow 5.4 yppl to an average attack. The average points scored was inflated by 5 defensive touchdowns and Michigan averaged just 4.9 yppl against the 3 elite defensive teams that they faced – Penn State, Ohio State, and Iowa, who would combine to allow 4.1 yppl to an average team. Like Alabama, Michigan’s offense was 0.2 yppl worse, relatively against good defensive teams (+0.8 yppl) than it was overall (+1.0 yppl).

Alabama’s defense shouldn’t have any trouble limiting the Michigan running backs, as Corum and Edwards combined for just 4.3 ypr this season, and the Tide gave up just 3.9 ypr to running backs (excluding FCS team Tenn-Chattanooga and garbage time). Alabama’s only issue in run defense was against running quarterbacks, as Brown (USF), Milton (Tenn), Daniels (LSU) and Thorne (Auburn) combined for 457 yards on 51 runs (9.0 yprp). McCarthy can run but he doesn’t run often (39 runs for 297 yards), although I expect that he’ll run more in this game. The Bama pass defense yielded just 5.6 yards per pass play to quarterbacks that would combine to average 7.3 yppp against an average defensive team. However, the Tide were not quite as good against very efficient quarterbacks, rating at 1.5 yppp better than average in games against Texas, Ole Miss, Tennessee, LSU, and Georgia. I project 328 yards at 5.2 yppl for the Wolverines in this game (not yet adjusted for weather).

I have Michigan gaining 23 more yards from scrimmage but Alabama averaging 0.4 more yards per play. Overall the line of scrimmage stats are pretty even and I give Michigan an advantage in projected turnovers (1.3 points) and a bit of an edge in special teams. The math favors the Wolverines by 2.2 points overall, with 44.2 total points (with +0.8 points based on the early forecast).

Alabama is usually at their most dangerous when they’re not expected to win and that goes back to before the Nick Saban days. My database goes back to 1980 and the Crimson Tide are 57-30-1 ATS as an underdog or pick, including 49-18-4 ATS when you exclude games in which they had a win percentage of less than .550 (the not so good Bama teams in the era before Saban turned things around). Saban’s Alabama teams are 13-5 straight up and 13-4-1 ATS in games when not favored by more than 3 points, so they tend to play their best against other elite teams. Michigan is just 6-14 SU and 8-11-1 ATS from -3 to dog under Jim Harbaugh. The Wolverines have done a good job getting over the hump against Ohio State in recent years but they still haven’t won a playoff game, losing 11-34 to Georgia in 2021 and getting upset by an inferior TCU team last season. Michigan also lost 16-35 to Alabama on New Year’s Day 2020. The math leans slightly with Michigan but I’d be reluctant to back the Wolverines. This game is a hard pass for me.

  • Team Stats
  • Game Log
  • Alabama
  • Michigan


  • Run Plays 35.8 29.0
  • Run Yards 187.2 139.4
  • YPRP 5.2 4.8


  • Pass Comp 15.0 18.7
  • Pass Att 23.2 30.6
  • Comp % 64.7% 61.1%
  • Pass Yards 237.2 209.1
  • Sacks 3.5 3.1
  • Sack Yards 25.1 21.4
  • Sack % 13.0% 9.2%
  • Pass Plays 26.6 33.7
  • Net Pass Yards 212.1 187.7
  • YPPP 8.0 5.6


  • Total Plays 62.5 62.7
  • Total Yards 399.3 327.1
  • YPPL 6.4 5.2


  • Int 0.6 0.9
  • Int % 2.4% 3.0%
  • Fumbles 0.3 0.5
  • Turnovers 0.8 1.4
  • Points 35.1 18.4
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