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Michigan, Alabama face off in powerhouse battle in CFP semifinal at Rose Bowl

CBS News Detroit Digital Brief for Jan. 1, 2024
CBS News Detroit Digital Brief for Jan. 1, 2024 03:49

Rose Bowl: No. 1 Michigan (13-0, Big Ten) vs. No. 4 Alabama (12-1, SEC), Jan. 1, 5 p.m. Eastern (ESPN)

FanDuel Sportsbook College Line: Michigan by 1 1/2

Series record: Alabama leads 3-2.


Michigan is in the College Football Playoff for the third straight season but still seeking its first win, getting routed by Georgia in 2021 and upset by TCU last season. The Wolverines haven't won a national championship since 1997. Alabama is seeking its seventh title under coach Nick Saban and has been victorious in the semifinal in six of seven CFP appearances. Saban won his first championship with the Crimson Tide in the 2010 BCS title game in Pasadena, California.


Michigan RB Blake Corum vs. Alabama defensive linemen Tim Keenan III and Justin Eboigbe. Corum has been the offensive catalyst for the Wolverines for three seasons, but he had only 13 yards on three carries against the Bulldogs and didn't play against the Horned Frogs because of a knee injury. If he can deliver a performance on par with his 1,028 yards rushing and 24 touchdowns this season, Corum will not only open up the play-action passing game but can keep the explosive Crimson Tide aerial attack on the sideline. Keenan has been an anchor in the middle of the line, helping free up Eboigbe to make 11 1/2 tackles for loss with seven sacks. Together, they have helped Alabama limit opponents to 3.7 yards per carry.


Michigan: QB J.J. McCarthy. The junior wasn't nearly as effective in the final month of the season, failing to throw for more than 148 yards in any of his last four games, with one touchdown and one interception. The presumption is that McCarthy was dealing with an injury, though he professed to be healthy in the buildup to the CFP.

Alabama: QB Jalen Milroe. After being benched for a game against South Florida early in the season, Milroe has proved to be resilient and productive. He amassed 17 total touchdowns against one interception over the past five games, and his 31-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-31 to beat Auburn made him an Iron Bowl hero. Whether Milroe can maintain his excellent average of 10.4 yards per pass attempt against a miserly Michigan defense will be telling.


Cornelius Johnson is the only Michigan WR with a catch of 50 yards. TE Colston Loveland has the longest reception of the season, a 54-yard grab against Indiana. … Alabama S Caleb Downs has 99 tackles, 34 more than LB Jihaad Campbell, putting him on track to become the first freshman to lead the team in tackles in 17 seasons under Saban. … Michigan CB Mike Sainristil has a team-high four interceptions. He was named most valuable player of the Big Ten title game after forcing two fumbles and getting a sack. … Milroe has 12 touchdown runs. Jase McClellan and Roydell Williams, who are first and second on Alabama in rushing, have combined for 11 scores. … The Wolverines are 8-12 in the Rose Bowl. This is their first appearance since a 2007 loss to Southern California. … This is the Crimson Tide's first Rose Bowl game in Pasadena since 1946. They defeated Notre Dame in a 2021 CFP semifinal played in Arlington, Texas, because of the pandemic. … Michigan and Alabama are the two winningest programs in college football. The Wolverines have won 1,002 games, followed by the Crimson Tide with 965.

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