Happy Gump Day, everyone. Being around the holidays and all, we figured we’d just combine today’s JP with an open thread for the bowl action. Here is the schedule for you:
Military Bowl : Tulane vs. Virginia Tech 1:00 pm ESPN
Mayo Bowl : North Carolina vs. West Virginia 4:30 pmE SPN
Holiday Bowl : Louisville vs. USC 7:00 pm FOX (cable)
Texas Bowl : Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M 8:00 pm ESPN
A few Rose Bowl notes for you:
Before the Tide headed out of town, Nick Saban described his focus for the team, during a press conference on early signing day.
“Excellence is not free,” Saban said. “You got to pay the price up front, and there’s a price to pay for it. Working on fundamentals, finishing the play, pushing yourself through, focusing on blocking and tackling and taking care of the ball. A lot of things that we need to pay attention to detail to try to get our momentum back as a team and our confidence back so that everybody’s playing together and we got a great understanding of what we need to do to have a chance to play winning football when the game comes.”
May the team listen to the head man, as usual.
A couple of early predictions rolled in.
Alabama is a flawed but ascending team, as it displayed by controlling the SEC championship game against then-No. 1 Georgia. Quarterback Jalen Milroe is among the nation’s most improved players and will attack downfield against a Michigan secondary led by takeaway-generating star Mike Sainristil.
The disparity among the two teams in the postseason is too much to ignore. Alabama’s Nick Saban has won seven national titles and boasts a 9-4 record in CFP games. Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, like his college coach, Bo Schembechler, has been much better in the Big Ten than on the national stage, going 1-6 in bowls and 0-2 in the CFP. Milroe leads a big fourth quarter as the Tide roll on to the national title game.
Prediction: Alabama 31, Michigan 23
Mike DeCourcy: Michigan 24, Alabama 19
The only thing that makes me nervous about Michigan entering this game is how rarely they’ve played anyone even remotely capable of beating them. They’ve had to get up for two games, really. They never were threatened by Iowa in the Big Ten Championship game. But the Wolverines did get up for Penn State and Ohio State, and they did control both games. They didn’t dominate, but they were in charge. And the destructive defense appears to be equipped to do the same to the Crimson Tide.
Yes, most people at that second link chose Alabama. I cherry picked some anti-rat poison, OK? Sue me.
Chip Brown thinks that Texas fans would rather not see Alabama again.
“People don’t understand how well [Jalen Milroe] is throwing the deep ball…— The Next Round (@NextRoundLive) December 26, 2023
He’s got 16 touchdowns and 1 interception on passes 20+ yards this year.
He has a better deep ball % than Michael Penix…”@ChipBrown247 @AlabamaFTBL pic.twitter.com/NT4nI0octa
Last, Yahoo looks back at the greatest games of the 4 team playoff era. Guess who is featured in 80% of them?
With the game tied at 20-20, Georgia punted for a fourth straight time and gave the ball back to Alabama with less than three minutes to go. But a game-winning 36-yard field goal as time expired sailed way left.
Georgia opened overtime with the ball and went backward thanks to a huge sack by Terrell Lewis. That led to a 51-yard field goal and a three-point lead.
Two plays later, Tagovailoa and DeVonta Smith formed the most improbable and iconic connection in playoff history on a 41-yard TD pass that gave the Crimson Tide a walk-off win.
Will never pass up the opportunity to post this.
That’s about it for now. Enjoy some football today.