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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Kenneth Grant
2023 Big Ten Championship - Iowa v Michigan / Michael Hickey/GettyImages

Now to the defensive side of things.

Jalen Milroe is a special talent, and the Wolverines are going to have to do everything possible to shut him down. It comes down to two things, in my opinion. Containing the QB runs, and preventing the long ball. This Alabama offense is not meant to go on long drives. They want to strike fast.

Against Georgia, the Tide had one drive of at least ten plays. And it was exactly ten plays. They drove 92 yards in that span. Seven out of their ten drives (excluding the final drive in which they ran out the clock) went for 30 yards or less, meaning that 77% of their offense came on three drives. To compare, Michigan's three longest drives against Ohio State combined for 60% of their total offense.

All of that is to say that Alabama wants to strike fast and destroy you with big plays. Whether that's a long scramble by Milroe or a deep pass. That's how the Tide score. Their rushing attack isn't too great, and they don't have a running back anywhere near as talented as Treyveon Henderson, who was held to ~ 3 yards per carry.

I expect Michigan's star studded defensive line to neutralize Alabama's running backs. That leaves Milroe and the passing game. Michigan's secondary will have their hands full. Jermaine Burton and Isaiah Bond are great receivers who will battle for 50-50 balls. They're not near the weapons Ohio State has, but they're very talented and have a fearless quarterback throwing them the ball.

The key in the secondary is to not give up the deep ball. Michigan football likely won't be able to have two deep safeties on the majority of plays due to Milroe's running ability, so it'll be on Will Johnson, Josh Wallace, and Mike Sainristil to make sure nobody gets behind them. Luckily, two of those three are All-Americans (according to different publications though).

The most important thing on the defensive side of things is discipline. Defensive lineman need to pressure Jalen Milroe while also keeping the rushing lanes closed. Milroe is not a good thrower under pressure and will make mistakes. However, he will also look to run first. Michigan needs to prevent him from scrambling and force him into bad decisions.

That, I believe, is Michigan's greatest advantage in the game. Alabama's interior linemen are their biggest weakness on offense, while Michigans interior linemen are its biggest strength on defense. Creating organic pass rush from the middle will make it hard for Milroe to run, forcing him to look to throw.

When he does throw, he'll be throwing into complex coverages schemed up by Jesse Minter. Minter is phenomenal at creating unique coverages to confuse quarterbacks, and that's what he's going to do against Milroe. The combination of pressure and confusion will, in my opinion, lead to a few interceptions by Milroe. So how will the game actually play out, and who will win?