The Rose Bowl will play host to two of college football’s most iconic brands when No. 1 Michigan and No. 4 Alabama clash on New Year’s Day with a spot in the College Football Playoff National Championship on the line. It’s hard to believe, but it will mark just the sixth-ever meeting between the two winningest teams in college football history. The last was a blowout win for Alabama in the Citrus Bowl.
Michigan’s path to this semifinal matchup was rather linear. The Wolverines marched through the first three quarters of their schedule without breaking a sweat and then downed top-10 Penn State by nine points before a pair of close battles over the next two weeks against upset-minded Maryland and a very talented Ohio State squad. Michigan needed a last-second interception to down the Buckeyes and secure a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game, where it held Iowa scoreless in a 26-0 triumph.
Alabama’s journey, by comparison, has been wrought with twists and turns. The Crimson Tide suffered a major setback early in the year with a 34-24 loss at home against fellow playoff team Texas. They then beat USF by just two touchdowns a week later and struggled against the likes of Texas A&M and Arkansas before righting the ship against Tennessee and winning four of their last five regular season games by double digits. Alabama announced its return to the CFP by beating Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, handing the Bulldogs their first loss since the 2021 season.
Follow along withas Michigan battles Alabama in the Rose Bowl CFP semifinal game.
How to watch Rose Bowl live
Date: Monday, Jan. 1 | Time: 5 p.m. ET
Location: Rose Bowl Stadium — Pasadena, California
TV: ESPN | Live stream: Fubo (Try for free)
For a limited time, new subscribers can save $20 on Fubo’s Pro, Elite and Premier plans.
Three players to watch in Rose Bowl
Alabama QB Jalen Milroe: Milroe won Alabama’s starting quarterback job on unsteady footing and actually got benched ahead of a Week 3 win against USF. Since then, he’s emerged as one of college football’s most electric players. He has just two turnovers in the last seven games and tallied 17 total touchdowns over Bama’s last five regular-season games. The 220-pound Milroe has elite arm talent and rushing ability that allowed him to go for over 100 yards on the ground against Auburn and LSU. He’ll be a handful for Michigan’s defense.
Michigan DB Mike Sainristil: A converted wide receiver, Sainristil is the heartbeat of a Michigan secondary that ranks second nationally in pass defense while allowing just 152.6 yards per game. As the Wolverines’ starting nickelback, he does a great job of erasing an opponent’s slot receiver. He also clearly never lost his ball skills from his time as an offensive player; he has five interceptions thus far this season, two of which he returned for a touchdown. It’s rare that a slot corner has such game-breaking ability.
Alabama EDGE Dallas Turner: Turner versus Michigan’s offensive line is appointment viewing. The Wolverines, who won consecutive Joe Moore Awards from 2021-22, had another strong outing in 2023 while allowing just 18 sacks all season. Turner stepped in for all-world defender Will Anderson Jr. and posted career highs with 14.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. He has the makings of a top-10 NFL Draft pick, and a strong showing against Michigan could go a long way towards solidifying that status.
Rose Bowl prediction, picks
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook
This has all the makings of a total brawl. Both teams are loaded in the trenches and lean on heavy rushing attacks anchored by a deep stable of running backs. Alabama’s Milroe and Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy can both make plays with their legs and get a lot of passing work done on play-action looks. Where Alabama has a discernible advantage is outside the hash marks on both sides of the ball.
Crimson Tide wide receiver Isaiah Bond is emerging as one of the sport’s best playmakers, while Jermaine Burton is a favorite target of Milroe’s and is as consistent as they come. Michigan has a talented secondary, but Alabama boasts a pair of likely first-round picks at corner in Kool-Aid McKinstry and Terrion Arnold, while freshman safety Caleb Downs has all the makings of a future award winner. If Alabama can hold up at the line of scrimmage — its offensive line, in particular, struggled early in the year — it’s more than capable of winning this one outright. Prediction: Alabama +1.5
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