Alabama vs Michigan Prediction: Rose Bowl Odds and Picks

While the Crimson Tide may be short underdogs heading into their College Football Semifinal matchup against the Wolverines, Andrew Caley believes Jalen Milroe & Co. match up well against the Big Ten champs.

Jan 1, 2024 • 15:02 ET • 4 min read
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It's fitting that arguably college football’s most prestigious bowl gets the biggest game of the season when the Michigan Wolverines take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA.

The Wolverines were awarded the top seed by the committee after rumbling to an undefeated season, which included a third straight win over rival Ohio State. But after two straight CFP disappointments, it’s put up or shut up time for Jim Harbaugh & Co.

Unfortunately for the Wolverines, the thing standing in between them and a trip to the CFP National Championship Game is Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide.

The Tide appeared to improve as the season went on, culminating in yet another SEC title following an upset of back-to-back National Champions in Georgia. Bama will take part in the CFP for the eighth time in 10 seasons, but this time, the college football odds have them as underdogs.

I break down the latest bowl game odds and bring you my best bet in my college football picks and predictions for Alabama vs. Michigan.

For more Rose Bowl bets, check out our Alabama vs. Michigan prop picks.

Alabama vs Michigan best odds

Alabama vs Michigan picks and predictions

The Rose Bowl gives us an incredible matchup as the 13-0 Michigan Wolverines take on the 12-1 Alabama Crimson Tide. Suffice to say, this is an intriguing matchup on many levels.

On offense, the Wolverines are led by running back Blake Corum. The team ranks fifth in college football in EPA/play, with Corum rumbling for 1,028 yards and 24 touchdowns. 

Quarterback J.J. McCarthy attempted 25 or more passes just three times this season and famously didn’t attempt a pass in the second half against Penn State. Ultimately, I’m betting Alabama will do all it can to force McCarthy to beat them with his arm.

When it comes to the Crimson Tide's offense, Jalen Milroe & Co. looked like they were improving with each passing game following an early-season loss to Texas. The team has since rattled off 11 straight wins, including an upset win over Georgia in the SEC Championship Game.

Milroe finished the season with 2,718 yards passing and 23 TDs to only 6 INTs, while adding another 468 yards and 12 scores on the ground.

Meanwhile, the Alabama defense is arguably the most talented Michigan has seen all season. The Tide defense ranks 21st in EPA and 18th in yards per play. But more importantly, they are well-equipped to deal with this Michigan offense.

In the win over Georgia in the SEC Championship, Bama was able to hold the Bulldogs to just 78 yards on 31 carries. Expect the Tide to use that fierce front seven to sell out and stop the run, and one of the reasons Alabama can do that is because of their elite corner play.

Kool-Aid McKinstry and Terrion Arnold are arguably the best lockdown duo at corner in the country and both are projected to be first-round picks in April’s NFL Draft. Michigan has OK guys out wide, but I’m not sure they’re good enough to get consistent separation against Bama’s shutout duo. 

Another thing to keep an eye on will be the play of Michigan’s offensive line, which will be without starting right guard Zak Zinter. 

When it comes to the other side of the ball, shutting down Milroe will be key for the Michigan defense. While the Wolverines rank fourth in the country in opponent yards per play and sixth in opponent EPA, you can make the argument that Alabama has the most balanced offense Michigan has faced this season.

The Tide’s biggest issue on offense early on was the offensive line allowing sacks, but the unit has improved throughout the season, and the one thing the Wolverines aren’t great at is pressuring the quarterback.

The final thing to look at is the coaching edge. Betting against Nick Saban in conference title and playoff games is a dubious proposition, particularly when he has more than a month to prepare for an opponent. Saban has won six straight CFP semifinals by an average margin of 20.3 points. 

Meanwhile, Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines have two humbling CFP semifinal losses on their resume. Until Harbaugh proves it at this level, you’ve got to give Saban an edge. 

The improvement of Milroe and Alabama throughout the season has been impressive to watch. If Milroe can limit the mistakes, I think Bama’s offense is set up better to succeed than Michigan in this matchup and pull out the win.

Roll Tide.

My best bet: Alabama moneyline (+108 at FanDuel)
Picks made at time of writing may not reflect live odds.

Alabama vs Michigan same-game parlay

Alabama moneyline

Jalen Milroe Over 32.5 rushing yards

J.J. McCarthy Over 15.5 rushing yards

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As always, our same-game parlay kicks off with our best bet, which is taking Alabama to win outright. 

Milroe has a big arm but Alabama offensive coordinator Tommy Rees has made a concerted effort to let him run the ball more at the end of the season. He rushed for 327 yards over his last four FBS games, gaining at least 29 yards on the ground in each. Going against a Michigan defense that doesn’t get to the quarterback a ton, I like Milroe to eclipse his rushing total of 32.5 yards.

When it comes to Michigan's offensive production, McCarthy will have to use his legs more than usual on Monday. 

The Wolverines QB is more athletic than he’s given credit for, and in Michigan’s two other tight games against tough pass rushes like Ohio State and Penn State, he scrambled for 17 and 34 yards respectively. I’m taking Over 13.5 rushing yards for McCarthy in the Rose Bowl.

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Alabama vs Michigan spread and Over/Under analysis

Michigan opened the Rose Bowl as slight 1.5-point favorites and there hasn’t been too much action as of Dec. 28. It will be interesting to see how the money starts flowing as kickoff approaches, considering this is a matchup between two of the most publicly bet teams in college football.

Covers Consensus currently has 56% of bettors taking the points with Alabama. And to be fair, it’s a rare opportunity to bet Bama as an underdog, as it’s happened just three times in the last three seasons. 

Meanwhile, the total hit the board at 46 and has been bet down to 44.5 as of Thursday. However, I’m a little weary of the Under here.

Alabama was an Over machine this season, going 9-3-1 O/U, while Michigan easily went Over a similar total against Ohio State. I’d have a slight lean to the Over at this current number.

Alabama vs Michigan betting trend to know

Alabama has covered the spread in eight of its last 10 games. Find more college football betting trends for Alabama vs. Michigan.

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Alabama vs Michigan game info

Location: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA
Date: Monday, January 1, 2024
Kickoff: 5:00 p.m. ET

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