It’s not a College Football Playoff game but it certainly has the feel of one. That’s probably because we’re used to seeing the Alabama Crimson Tide competing for a national championship at the end of a season. For the first time in the CFP era the Tide isn’t part of the festivities. Instead Bama will take on Big Ten foe Michigan Wolverines in the Citrus Bowl in what sets up to be the most intriguing postseason game of the year. Current college football odds have Alabama as a 7-point favorite for the game that gets underway at 1 p.m. ET on Wednesday, January 1, 2020, from Camping World Stadium. The contest will be televised on ABC.
College Football Odds at BookMaker.eu
Michigan Wolverines +7
Alabama Crimson Tide -7
Michigan vs. Alabama Odds Analysis
There has been zero movement on the line since opening at Alabama -7. Just another sign that oddsmakers know what they’re doing. Playing as a dog hasn’t been the ideal situation for the Wolverines who went 0-3 SU and 1-2 ATS this season when getting points. Unlike the spread the total has bounced around quite a bit since hitting the board at 56. The number was wagered as high as 59 before settling at its current 58.
The Wolverines will look to avoid the scenario that gripped them last year. A season-ending loss to arch-rival Ohio State left them numb and they tiptoed through a 41-15 loss to Florida in the Peach Bowl. Guess what happened a few weeks ago. UM was hammered again by OSU and will look to put up a better fight on New Year’s Day. Lofty preseason expectations were again silenced with losses to big-time programs. A 35-14 setback at No. 13 Wisconsin in Week 4 put CFP hopes in danger. Those hopes were extinguished as was a chance at the Big Ten East with a cover loss at No. 7 Penn State in Week 8.
A nice response after the Penn State game saw Michigan win four in a row and extend its ATS winning streak to five ahead of the showdown with the Buckeyes. In those wins the Wolverines outscored opponents 166-45 cashing the over three times. Shea Patterson played his best football since joining the program throwing for over 300 yards in each of the last three games with a total of 10 touchdown passes. UM has been pathetic when getting points, so it’s a good thing it doesn’t happen that often. The Wolverines are 0-16 SU and 7-9 ATS in their last 16 games when playing as a dog on the closing line.
How is Alabama going to respond without a national championship dangling at the end of the stick? We’re about to find out. For the first time since the playoff was established, the Tide won’t be competing. The loss of Tua Tagovailoa certainly hurt. He clearly wasn’t 100 percent when the Tide lost at home to LSU as 5-point favorite, and you can’t blame the offense in the Iron Bowl. Bama scored 45 points and amassed 515 yards, but fell to Auburn knocking them out of the CFP picture. Mac Jones started three games, including the last two, in place of Tagovailoa. In those games the Tide went 2-1 SU and ATS, beating Arkansas and Western Carolina while averaging 53 points per game.
With an abundance of playmakers the Tide didn’t slip much when Tua went down. In his three starts Jones completed 74 percent of his passes for 845 yards with 10 touchdowns. He did throw a pair of picks, both of which were returned for a touchdown by Auburn. Overall, Jones hit on nearly 70 percent for 1,176 yards and 11 scores in 116 attempts. Bama had the second-highest scoring offense during the regular season averaging 48.3 points per game with speed and balance equal or better to that of Ohio State.
Playing teams from the Big Ten hasn’t been a problem for the Tide lately. Since 2010 Alabama is 7-1 SU and ATS, and they didn’t play the bottom of the barrel in those games. One of those victories was over Michigan, 41-14, in the 2012 season-opener, which was the last time the teams played. “Everybody has to refocus their mindset when playing in this game. I think we have a lot of reasons to play well so we can vindicate some to the disappointments we had in our season,” Nick Saban said.
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