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Michigan vs Alabama Picks, Best Bets: College Football Playoff Rose Bowl Predictions

Alabama plays in college football game

Michigan Wolverines vs Alabama Crimson Tide Best Bets : Rose Bowl CFP Analysis & Predictions

Football content contributor Ron Marmalefsky offers some killer betting picks on the college football playoff at the Rose Bowl being played on January 1st, between Michigan & Alabama. What are his takeaways and things to watch when considering betting? Find top predictions here.

Alabama beat Georgia 27-24 in the SEC title game, making everyone magically forget how their playoff hopes should have ended with a loss the previous week to Auburn. 

Yes, the names on the jersey’s matter.  Off the field, Michigan and Coach Harbaugh were a mess.  On the field, games 1-9 were routs, as was their title game vs. Iowa.  We’re past the point of arguing whether or not Alabama should be here.  The new question is this: Can a Nick Saban team be defeated off 37 days rest?

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Rose Bowl CFP Predictions and Best Bets: Alabama Offense

For much of the 1st half of the season, Alabama and QB Milne were scrambling around, trying to find a rhythm.  Alabama was sacked 43 times, but that figure improved late in the season. 

Milne was 14-27 vs. Texas, 21-33 vs. A&M, a better 15-22 vs. Kentucky, and 13-23 vs. Georgia.  I can see him around 60% in this game. 

I like the variety of weapons on the roster, but there’s a lack of elite WR talent this time around.  In five of the past seven seasons the Tide ran for 5.3 per carry or more.  2023’s number was 2nd worse at 4.65.  The top two RB’s averaged around 5.0, but recent numbers vs. the better defenses show some slowdown.  I think we’ll see closer to 4.0 in this spot.

Alabama Defense

Alabama’s 3.8 allowed per carry was a bit high by their standards.  Texas ran 34-111.  A&M ran 35-70.  Auburn ran 42.244.  LSU was the other team that dominated on the ground, but using the other three as my best comparisons, were back to around 3.8 allowed per carry. 

The pass defense shows a 59% completion rate by opponents, but this team has NFL talent in the secondary.  They’ll face a high percentage QB in McCarthy and I think 60+% is highly likely, but how many splash plays will be available? 

Kicking was excellent at 20-23.  Alabama has a good pass rush (38 defensive sacks).  The 3rd down success rate was nearly 47%.

Rose Bowl CFP Video Picks

Alabama Crimson Tide vs Michigan Wolverines Prediction and Picks - Rose Bowl Predictions

Rose Bowl Picks: Can Michigan Prevail in the Semifinal?

Michigan dominated defensively, but there are some cracks in the offensive armor.  Michigan ran 5.55 per carry in 2021 and 5.9 per carry in 2022. 

They ran just 4.55 per carry this season, and for 169 yards per game, way down from their 230 yards per game in 2022.  Both RB’s were down this year.  Corum ran 5.9 per carry in 2022 before he was hurt.  This year he ran 4.7 per carry, but he did power his way to 24 rush TD’s.  In four comparable games his total came to 92-379, which is 4.1 per carry. 

I think he gets the job done near the endzone vs. this particular Alabama defense, but the overall figure might not be what Michigan had in mind.  A bigger drop in performance came from RB Edwards, who routinely broke off long gainers in 2022, leading to a 7.1 per-carry average.  This year’s per-carry average was at 3.5! 

Remember when QB McCarthy did not throw a pass in the 2nd half of the Penn State game?  This game will be different, as he’ll need to throw to move the chains more consistently.  Accuracy (74%) is not an issue.  Like Alabama, there’s a variety of targets. 

Solid Wolverine Defense

In games 1-10 the Wolverines allowed a total of 75 points.  Maryland and Ohio State each scored 24.  Based on seasonal performances, Alabama might struggle to rush for 4.0 yards-per-carry.  Like Michigan, they’ll need to pass to make a dent on the score sheet.  Until week eleven, no QB faced could be properly compared to this matchup. 

Maryland passed 21-31.  Ohio State passed 18-30.  For the season Michigan allowed 54.5%, as I expected.  I believe Alabama will hit 60% or more in this game.  The PK was 16-18.  The overall sack ratio was 33-18, which is consistent with past performances.  Other positive stats include a +5:37 time of possession edge, a 35-7 rush touchdown ratio, and a +17 turnover ratio.  Michigan lost two fumbles all season.

rose bowl

Rose Bowl Best Bets – The Keys to The Game:

Which QB will win through the air?  Can Michigan’s pass rush get through?  I like Michigan’s chances close to the goal line with Corum, but will either QB have success outside of the ten-yard line with a shortened field?

We’ve seen so many bowl games in this bowl season be decided by who is the more motivated team.  Opt-outs are changing (and ruining) the spirit of the bowl season.  I don’t think that applies to this game because Bo Nix is a different type of QB, and he is completely team-oriented.  Instead, this game is all about how much strength of schedule matters. 

CFP Semifinal Picks & Predictions – The Rose Bowl

Two things can be accurate at the same time.  1st, Alabama does NOT belong here.  I think Florida State would have been a better choice, but so would have Georgia (despite the loss) and Ohio State.  The “recency” argument holds no water (sorry Committee) as Alabama did not get better as they said, unless you ignore the Auburn game, which of course you cannot. 

However, the 2nd point is that Alabama IS the most feared matchup for the Wolverines, as not only does Nick Saban get five+ weeks to prepare, but the on-field matchups are tight.  The biggest key is Michigan QB McCarthy. 

The team got away with not passing vs. Penn State.  I think the Michigan WR’s will have to win in this game, as Corum and Edwards just didn’t look the same in 2023.

The Pick: Rose Bowl CFP Expert Betting Recommendation!

My rush data slightly favors Michigan, and based solely on Power Numbers, Michigan has value.  I don’t have an official play, but I lean Michigan and lean UNDER in the 1st half. 

My player recommendations are to take Michigan QB McCarthy OVER his pass attempts total, and to consider Alabama QB Milne OVER his longest pass completion yardage figure.

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