Preview & prediction for Michigan football vs. Alabama in the Rose Bowl

Breaking down the Rose Bowl for Michigan football and Alabama.

Pasadena Prepares For The Rose Bowl
Pasadena Prepares For The Rose Bowl / David McNew/GettyImages
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It's time. Michigan football and Alabama in what is looking like one of the greatest Rose Bowl games in history. The 13-0 number one ranked Michigan Wolverines take on the 12-1 number four ranked Alabama Crimson Tide. It's the one we've all been waiting for folks, and it's here.

Despite being the most dominant team in the country all year long, Michigan is viewed as an underdog by most members of the media. It's understandable. Jim Harbaugh has lost his last six bowl games and is up against the greatest college coach of all time with a roster full of five stars.

This game has the potential to be the biggest win for Michigan football over the past 25 years. So how do I see it going? Let's dive in, starting with what I think will happen when Michigan has the ball.

Alabama's defense is great, but I'm not sure if it is the best Michigan will have played. The Tide far and away have the best secondary and EDGE rushers that Michigan will have seen, but the weaknesses of the Tide favor the Wolverines.

Alabama is relatively weak at the linebacker position and the defensive tackle position. That means Colson Loveland, AJ Barner, and Donovan Edwards are going to have many opportunities in the receiving game. While I do not think by any means the Wolverines will torch the Tide through the air, I could very realistically see those three combining for ~200 receiving yards.

Likewise, the weak defensive tackle position produces opportunities to run up the middle. Sherrone Moore will have to call his best game of the year. You cannot run it up the middle too often, because the back seven will begin to creep up and make plays on those runs. You cannot do normal runs to the outside because the speed of the Alabama defense will destroy you.

So what do I think Michigan football will do? They're going to use lots of misdirection, including using JJ McCarthy as a runner. They're going to utilize play action more than they have at any time this season and are going to keep the Tide off balance. Then they're going to run up the middle.

It's all about staying on schedule. If Michigan football gets into too many obvious passing situations, the Tide EDGE rushers are going to eat them alive. Cornelius Johnson and Roman Wilson will have their hands full with Kool-Aid McKinstry and Terrion Arnold. Michigan will have to get creative, and I believe they will.

The X-Factor on offense is Donovan Edwards. A former five star, Edwards has the athleticism and physicality to beat the Tide. Michigan needs to utilize one of its top receiving threats. Edwards needs to catch at least five passes in my opinion.

JJ McCarthy is going to need to play loose and fearless. He's going to need to play at a Heisman level to propel this offense, and I believe he'll be up to it. I'm expecting 50+ rushing yards out of McCarthy. Opposing quarterbacks have had lots of success running the ball against the Tide, and a healthy JJ McCarthy should be able to do the same.