Happy Thursday, everyone. There are plenty of Citrus Bowl recaps around, so let’s get to them, right after enjoying watching Najee carry Michigan defenders one more time.
That was beautiful.
Najee’s last touchdown wasn’t all that beautiful to Michigan, though.
Playing with something to prove, the Tide used all 60 minutes on Wednesday afternoon in Orlando. That didn’t necessarily sit well on the Michigan side of Camping World Stadium.
“It was kind of a smack in the face,” middle linebacker Cameron McGrone told reporters after the game. “But it is what it is. It’s football, we’ve got to be ready all times, and we weren’t ready that play.”
Considering some of the thinly veiled shots Harbaugh has taken at Alabama over the years, a smack in the face was the likely intention.
It was the passing attack, however, that stole the headlines.
The biggest difference was Alabama’s passing attack. Even without quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, the Tide found plenty of downfield shots to take the top of the Wolverines’ defense. Quarterback Mac Jones finished the day 16-of-25 passing for 327 yards and three touchdowns. Jerry Jeudy had the best game of his career, statistically speaking, with six receptions on eight targets for 204 yards and a touchdown. Devonta Smith and Miller Forristall also had a receiving touchdown each. That allowed running back Najee Harris to have a big day on the ground with 136 yards and two touchdowns.
In four starts now, including two against top ten defenses, Mac has a passer rating of 211.75, which would lead the nation and blow away the NCAA record. We noted earlier that he had better ratings than Joe Burrow vs. two common opponents in Arkansas and Auburn. His 213.5 number against Michigan is better than Burrow managed against Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Utah State, Texas, Texas A&M, Georgia, and Auburn. Yes, he has a phenomenal supporting cast and doesn’t have the ridiculous pinpoint accuracy that makes Tua a generational talent, but at this stage he looks like a very good college QB who will likely get a look in the NFL. If Tua decides to leave for the NFL, it’s going to be very difficult to beat Jones out for the starting job next season.
As Cecil notes, Alabama’s goal is still to get back to its own lofty standard.
A lot of places would think 11-2 was a good season. In Tuscaloosa, it’s unfinished business.
Can that business be finished in 2020? That will be easier to answer in a couple of weeks, when the roster — who stays, who goes and what they will be capable of doing if they do so — becomes set. A few players will leave early. It’s possible that Tua Tagovailoa might not be one of them, but does that guarantee a fully healthy Tua in time for the Southern Cal game? What is the future on defense?
The Citrus Bowl, unfolding as it did, gave Saban all sorts of positives to use in the upcoming season.
Saban has raised the bar so ridiculously high that an 11 win season is unacceptable, and for that we love him. Just how impressive is 11 wins?
Alabama just finished off their 9th straight 11-win season.— Brooks Carter (@BrooksACarter) January 2, 2020
- UGA has 11 11-win seasons all-time
- Florida has 9
- LSU has 8
- Vols have 8
- Auburn has 6
- Mizzou has 4
- A&M has 4
- ARK has 3
- UK has 1
- S. Carolina has 3
- Ole Miss, MSST, & Vandy have 0
That seems pretty good.
On the other side of things, Jim Harbaugh is getting roasted.
There are no surprises left with Michigan football. It’s a team that is maddeningly consistent. The Wolverines are a good bet to win between nine and 10 games each season, but never 11. They will fall short of Indianapolis and the Big Ten title game. They will lose to their biggest rival, Ohio State. In even years, they’ll beat both Wisconsin and Penn State and in odd ones fall to the same two schools. They will dominate the teams they’re expected to beat and never prevail when they’re underdogs, as they were again on Wednesday against Alabama in the Citrus Bowl.
In the end, it was another typical performance from Jim Harbaugh against a quality team.
Jeers came from all angles during the second half of Michigan’s 35-16 loss to Alabama in Wednesday’s Citrus Bowl, the latest setback for the Wolverines in the postseason.
Goodness, @notthefakeSVP with a vicious stat.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) January 2, 2020
Rutgers has more bowl wins over the last 20 years (6) than Michigan (5).
We will see what happens, but if a NFL team wants Jim, which is possible considering the way that league loves its retreads, I think he may just head on back.
The SEC is dominating the bowl season, while the Big 12 is.... not.
Power 5 bowl records:— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) January 2, 2020
PAC 12: 4-3
Big Ten: 4-4
Big 12: 1-5
There is no justification for having any Big 12 team in the top ten at this point. Besides conference champ Oklahoma getting thoroughly embarrassed by LSU, the Baylor team that took Oklahoma to the wire twice couldn’t compete with a Georgia squad missing a third of its starters and several reserves. That whole conference is a joke. As usual, the advanced metrics had it right, too. Oklahoma had a decent showing at 6th this year, but Baylor checked in at 15 and nobody else in that league was in the top 20.
This was a cool moment.
That has to be one proud Momma. Hopefully they are soon celebrating together on draft day.
Last, trainer Jeff Allen recognized Anfernee Jennings for overcoming adversity in his career.
Blessed to have been around a lot of great players who have overcome tough injuries but @anferneejenning is one I’ll never forget! You did everything @gsell_jeremy asked you to do and you fought everyday! Proud of you! Thank you for all you did for Alabama! Roll Tide forever! pic.twitter.com/ovjbA6eusr— Jeff Allen (@makennahsdad) January 2, 2020
If you recall, the knee injury against Clemson was a medical emergency that could have been much, much worse without immediate intervention. Alabama players are lucky to have Allen and the Andrews clinic at their disposal.
That’s about it for today. Have a great day.