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Jumbo Package: Motivated Michigan will present a big challenge for Alabama

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

Ohio State State v Michigan Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

Happy Monday, everyone. We are a mere nine days away from the final Alabama football game of the season. While Tide fans are hoping to see a repeat of the 2011 Citrus Bowl destruction of Michigan State, this Michigan squad has an awful lot to play for.

Michigan’s biggest problem under Harbaugh is that he hasn’t gotten the Wolverines back to the level of his biggest rival, Ohio State, and, therefore, has not been able to win the Big Ten championship or get to the Rose Bowl. Michigan is a good team, but not elite.

Should Michigan defeat Alabama in Orlando, it would mean little to the perception of Crimson Tide football.

In the immediate future, the Wolverines will turn over a significant portion of their roster. Ten of the team’s 22 starters, including quarterback Shea Patterson and linebacker Josh Uche, are leaving. Some others with NFL dreams, including junior receivers Nico Collins and Donovan Peoples-Jones, could move on as well.

It begs the question of whether the Wolverines would be better off using the Citrus Bowl to evaluate the younger talent on the roster against a quality opponent like Alabama than sticking with the veterans in a game of little consequence with players who won’t be at Michigan next season.

“It was never a big topic when I was around,” Runyan said. “For me, there’s no doubts that I’m going to play this game. They got a lot of really good players on their defense, so it’s just another game for me and my teammates to put some good film out there and put on the winged helmet one more time.”

The attraction of playing Alabama (10-2, 6-2 SEC), a perennial college football power who’s appeared in every College Football Playoff since 2014, is certainly helping. Michigan does not currently have any players projected to be early draft picks, creating plenty of upside to play well against an opponent of this caliber.

Alabama players are understandably frustrated that they didn’t have a better finish this season. Everyone, even the committee that placed them there, knows that this team is not the 13th best in the country. That includes Michigan, who comes into the game desperately needing a signature win for head coach Jim Harbaugh. On paper Alabama should win, but games aren’t played on paper and the Tide will be without at least two starters in Trevon Diggs and Terrell Lewis. There were reports that Deonte Brown suffered some sort of injury in practice last week as well, though we don’t know the severity and nothing has been confirmed by Saban.

Bottom line, Alabama will need to bring its A game in this one. Their opponents most certainly will.

This is a great piece about Bryce Young and his family.

So did it ever cross Craig Young’s mind a year ago that Bryce would possibly sign with Alabama?

“No, didn’t expect it,” he stated. “I am not going to lie. I didn’t think it. It’s tough that your son is going to be leaving. I am so proud of him. It means he is all-in. His dream is he wants to win a national championship, his dream is to play at the next level. What better program to go to than Alabama?

”He wants to play at the highest level- he did it in high school and will continue that in college. To forego palm trees and sunshine for Tuscaloosa, which by the way is different, but an amazing place with amazing people, to do that I am very proud of his courage, conviction and his dream. I am fully supportive of that.”

It also mentions that a certain bowl cut wearing coach to the east tried his damnedest to get Young on campus the last weekend before signing day, even offering to keep it on the down low. Kirby is desperate for some good news after taking that drubbing in Atlanta.

Expect the ESecPN business to be on overdrive once this new TV deal is finalized.

ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12

These three conferences will all fall even further behind the SEC (and the Big Ten) as the league is expected to get a huge financial deal likely upwards of $330 million. Starting in 2023, SEC schools should get at least $65 million each and that number could easily be $70 million, more than double what Pac-12 schools received in 2019. Further, all three of these conferences will lose relevance and exposure with ESPN as it becomes even more financially invested in the SEC. Disney/ESPN will be financially compelled to push the SEC even harder which isn’t great news for the other conferences.

The conference already boasts six of the top eight recruiting classes for 2020. Those recruiting budgets are only going to increase.

It was a good day for Alabama players in the NFL.

Jones was playing in his 125th NFL regular-season game on Sunday. Before Jones, the fastest that a player had reached 12,000 receiving yards was 142 games, which Jerry Rice accomplished. Rice, who played from 1985 through 2004, went on to set the NFL career record with 22,895 receiving yards.

Jones entered Sunday’s game with 780 receptions for 11,881 yards and 57 touchdowns in his career. He had eight catches for 135 yards against the Jaguars when he passed the 12,000-yard mark.

Ingram followed Derrick Henry and Josh Jacobs as former Crimson Tide standouts who have rushed for at least 1,000 yards this season. Both Henry and Jacobs were sidelined on Sunday by injuries, with Henry missing the Tennessee Titans’ game against the New Orleans Saints because of a hamstring injury and Jacobs missing the Oakland Raiders’ game against the Los Angeles Chargers because of a shoulder injury.

Drake’s versatility is made for the modern NFL. He should be getting a nice payday this offseason.

That’s about it for today. Have a great week.

Roll Tide.