The Alabama Crimson Tide (10-2) is in unusual territory outside of the College Football Playoff. This year they play in the Citrus Bowl against Michigan Wolverines (9-3).
By Steve Wright
Here are the three keys:
Be up for it
This is really the first bowl game that hasn’t mattered for Alabama since 2013. Going further back, it is the first bowl the Tide has played in that wasn’t an A-lister since 2007. The crazy part is that the reason that Alabama is here is a three-point loss to the best team in the country and an Iron Bowl loss in a game they could have won five different ways. A healthy Tua for the season changes at least one of those results.
Either way, Alabama needs to be up for this game and want to prove something. This can’t be a season that peters out, instead the Tide need to make a statement at the expense of Michigan.
Stop the passing attack
Shea Patterson is a familiar face to Saban and the Tide having played for Ole Miss before transferring to Michigan. At the end of the season he seemed more apt to throw the ball down the field, testing teams deep. This could be a problem given that Bama had issues with LSU, Texas A&M and even to Ryan Hilinski and South Carolina earlier this year. This will also be an Alabama secondary without Trevon Diggs.
Stopping the pass – the deep pass especially – will be a test for Alabama here.
The good side of Mac Jones
Against Auburn Mac Jones threw for 335 yards and four scores. That is a recipe that Alabama can use to win, especially given the power of the running game and the strength of the offensive line. The problem was that in the same game he tossed a pair of pick-sixes, plays that kill momentum and belief more than just about anything else in the game. Alabama need the good side of Jones to come out, just as he needs a big performance to cement his No 1spot headed into the off season.