Latest updates: Eleven Points That Will Determine Alabama vs. Michigan Playoff

  The Michigan Wolverines come into the Rose Bowl with the more notable rushing attack, but the Alabama Crimson Tide actually averaged more ground yards this season.

Three players from Alabama set records for more than 100 carries and at least 450 yards of rushes. Its offensive component may make the difference between winning and losing on New Year’s Day in the College Football Playoff quarterfinal.

Running back Blake Corum of Michigan loves to control games, but the Crimson Tide have a greater chance of winning if it is pulled out of its environment.

In order to reduce the amount of possessions, Michigan would like to run the ball 40 times. However, in order to win its first national semifinal in the playoff era, Michigan could need to execute some crucial passing plays.

Alabama’s Success on the Ground

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ATLANTA, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 2: Jalen Milroe #4 hands the ball off to Roydell Williams #5 of the Alabama Crimson Tide during a game between University of Georgia and University of Alabama at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 2, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images)


The Crimson Tide gained 10.9 more yards on the ground than Michigan in the regular season, and while that may not seem like a massive difference, that statistic proves they can match Michigan at the Big Ten side’s biggest strength.

Alabama ran the ball 41 times for 114 yards in the SEC Championship Game win over the Georgia Bulldogs.

The commitment to the run allowed the Crimson Tide to possess the ball for three more minutes than the previous top-ranked team in the CFB Playoff rankings.

In order to exert control over the game and prevent Michigan from controlling play using the same tactic, Alabama must perform even better on the ground in the Rose Bowl.

Jase McClellan’s possible return on New Year’s Day might make stopping Alabama’s running assault more difficult.

McClellan’s injury sustained during the Iron Bowl victory over the Auburn Tigers is affecting his foot.

“He is improving. Most likely, it’s still too early to know. According to Chase Goodbread of the Tuscaloosa News, Alabama head coach Nick Saban stated, “He’s getting ready to do some dry-land running and some things, so he’ll progress through the rest of the week and we’ll see where he lands by the end of the week.”

The senior running back produced two 100-yard games against Top 25 foes and averages 4.8 yards per carry.

His potential return combined with the confidence Roydell Williams gained from the Georgia game and with Jalen Milroe’s mobility in the pocket could hurt the sixth-best rushing defense in the FBS.

If Alabama executes its ground game well, it could keep Michigan off the field and lead to a dominant offensive performance.

J.J. McCarthy’s Experience

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J.J. McCarthy is arguably the most important player in the Rose Bowl.

The Michigan quarterback will make his third CFB Playoff semifinal appearance on New Years’ Day.

Two years ago against Georgia, McCarthy relieved Cade McNamara and went 7 for 17 with 131 yards passing. In the loss to the TCU Horned Frogs the previous year, he threw for 343 yards and two touchdowns.

In the 51-45 loss, McCarthy was also picked off twice by the Horned Frogs. In his career, he has only had two multi-pick games. The other was a strange September game versus the Bowling Green Falcons that included three interceptions.

Even though he might not be expected to pass the ball a much, the second-year quarter must produce some huge plays when called upon. He seldom makes errors.

McCarthy did that in both of Michigan’s Top 25 Big Ten wins over the Ohio State Buckeyes and Penn State Nittany Lions.

It is thought that he can once again provide support for the prolific rushing attack and, in this case, leverage his experience against a formidable Alabama defense. Terrion Arnold and Kool-Aid McKinstry are two NFL prospects for Alabama at cornerback, and McCarthy needs to win that game to get Michigan to its first CFB Playoff final. If the errors continue, Alabama may score points with a short field and control the game in a manner akin to the SEC Championship Game.


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