My preliminary analysis of Bama vs Michigan...

uafan4life

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Let's start this from the perspective of Michigan's defense. We'll do all of these from Michigan's perspective, in fact - and we'll start with their rushing defense.

Michigan is averaging giving up only 2.91 yards per play on the ground, overall. Against Power-5 opponents, that number only jumps to an even 3.0 yards per rush. Both are excellent, nationally. Alabama's offense, meanwhile, is only averaging 4.33 and 3.78, respectively, which is merely average nationally.

However, the best rushing offenses Michigan has faced this season (YPR, vs Power-5 only) are:
#40 Purdue - 4.44 YRP
#46 Penn State - 4.13 YPR
#48 Wisconsin - 4.22 YPR
#51 Nebraska - 4.11 YPR

Still, on the surface, this appears to significantly favor Michigan if Alabama is forced to have to run the ball. However, let's take a look at the best rushing Defenses the Tide has faced this season (YPR, vs Power-5 only):
#13 Texas - 2.87 YPR
#16 Texas A&M - 3.19 YPR
#24 Tennessee - 3.58 YPR
#26 Kentucky - 3.63 YPR
#27 MTSU - 3.69 YPR
#41 Georgia - 3.95 YPR

So, while this is probably still a slight Michigan edge, it's clear that Bama's rushing offense has faced stiffer competition than has Michigan's rush defense, which could even the scales a bit.

Moving on to Michigan's passing defense, we'll look at three stats versus Power-5 competition: Yards Per Pass, 20+ Yard Passing Plays, and Passing Efficiency. In these stats, Michigan's defense has given up 5.9 YPP, 18 20+ yard passes, and a 101.19 efficiency rating. Alabama's offense, meanwhile, has managed 10.3 YPP, 44 20+ yard passes, and a 168.76 efficiency rating. Of course, let's also look at the respective opponents. The best offenses that Michigan's defense has faced in these stats (vs Power-5 only, ordered here by passing efficiency) are:
#12 Ohio State - 8.8 YPP, 37 20+, 156.93 rating
#31 Maryland - 7.7 YPP, 43 20+, 143.69
#43 Penn State - 6.5 YPP, 22 20+, 134.47
#57 Indiana - 6.6 YPP, 26 20+, 126.53 rating
#58 Northwestern - 6.6 YPP, 26 20+, 126.44 rating
#75 Purdue - 6.3 YPP, 27 20+, 119.18 rating

This makes it clear that Bama's passing offense is, statistically, the best the Michigan defense will have faced all season. However, let's also take a look at the best defenses against which the Tide compiled its stats:
#13 Georgia - 6.4 YPP, 20+, 116.46 rating
#27 Texas - 6.9 YPP, 20+, 126.69 rating
#49 Auburn - 7.7 YPP, 20+, 134.83 rating
#63 Ole Miss - 7.8 YPP, 20+, 141.47 rating
#68 Tennessee - 8.0 YPP, 20+, 144.75 rating
#69 Kentucky - 7.7 YPP, 20+, 145.22 rating
#71 Texas A&M - 8.0 YPP, 20+, 145.53 rating

The level of competition for these two units seems to be fairly comparable, with a slight edge to the defenses the Bama offense has faced. Regardless, this is very much a strength versus strength matchup. Both units will be the best the other has faced all season.

Switching sides of the field, let's look at Michigan's rushing offense - which has averaged 4.1 yards per rush against Power-5 opponents this season. Bama's defense, meanwhile, has averaged giving up 3.74 yards per rush against Power-5 opponents this season. At first glance, this looks to be a slight edge in Bama's favor - with Bama's ranking here being 30th nationally and Michigan's 52nd. However, let's look at the rushing defenses the Michigan offense has faced this season:
#3 Penn State - 2.13 YPR
#12 Iowa - 2.86 YPR
#15 Nebraska - 3.13 YPR
#20 Ohio State - 3.38 YPR
#22 Maryland - 3.4 YPR
#44 Purdue - 3.99 YPR
#51 Indiana - 4.1 YPR

This looks to be at least somewhat favorable for Michigan, as this places Bama's defense squarely in the middle of their competition to date. Of course, we should also look at the best rushing offenses the Bama defense has faced:
#2 LSU - 6.28 YPR
#10 Georgia - 5.16 YPR
#17 Auburn - 4.95 YPR
#18 Texas - 4.93 YPR
#21 Tennessee - 4.84 YPR
#24 Kentucky - 4.81 YPR
#29 Ole Miss - 4.67 YPR

If the competition comparison moves the needle here at all, it moves it slightly towards Bama. The safe bet is calling this category a wash.

Now, let's move on to Michigan's passing offense - which has averaged 8.7 Yards Per Pass, compiled 33 20+ yard pass plays, and earned a rating of 163.49 against Power-5 competition. Alabama's defense, meanwhile, has given up 7.0 YPP, 37 20+ pass plays, and a 127.01 efficiency rating. First, let's look at the best passing defenses (vs Power-5 only, ordered here by passing efficiency) Michigan's offense has faced this season:
#3 Ohio State - 4.7 YPP, 13 20+, 92.62 rating
#5 Iowa - 4.7 YPP, 13 20+, 99.06 rating
#17 Penn State - 6.7 YPP, 23 20+, 118.63 rating
#19 Nebraska - 6.3 YPP, 24 20+, 120.96 rating
#20 Maryland - 6.8 YPP, 29 20+, 121.45 rating
#36 Rutgers - 6.5 YPP, 23 20+, 128.32 rating
#37 Purdue - 7.8 YPP, 49 20+, 129.03 rating
#73 Minnesota - 7.8 YPP, 32 20+, 145.63 rating

This looks to somewhat significantly favor Michigan, since Bama's stats in this category place it at the lower end of Michigan's competition to date. Of course, we should also look at the best passing offenses the Bama defense faced, as well:
#2 LSU - 10.6 YPP, 20+, 185.54 rating
#6 Georgia - 9.2 YPP, 20+, 165.83 rating
#13 Texas - 8.8 YPP, 20+, 155.13 rating
#23 Ole Miss - 8.7 YPP, 20+, 145.93 rating
#35 Tennessee - 7.5 YPP, 20+, 140.25 rating
#44 Texas A&M - 7.5 YPP, 20+, 133.65 rating
#52 Arkansas - 6.6 YPP, 20+, 129.50 rating

This side of the category pretty much just holds serve, making this one a Michigan lean, as well.

Of course, the goal of rushing and passing plays is not just to move the ball down the field but, primarily, to put points on the board - so let's look at scoring averages. Against Power-5 competition, Michigan is averaging scoring 38.1 points per game while Alabama is averaging giving up 21.9 points per game. To date, here are the best scoring defenses (against P-5 competition) that Michigan has faced:
#5 Ohio State - 11.2 PPG
#6 Penn State - 13.0 PPG
#7 Iowa - 13.5 PPG
#15 Nebraska - 19.4 PPG
#30 Rutgers - 24.2 PPG
#34 Maryland - 25.3 PPG
#55 Minnesota - 29.3 PPG
#59 Purdue - 29.6 PPG

Meanwhile, here are the best scoring offenses the Tide's defense has faced:
#2 LSU - 40.8 PPG
#9 Texas - 36.5 PPG
#11 Georgia - 35.7 PPG
#28 Ole Miss - 30.3 PPG
#28 Texas A&M - 30.3 PPG
#43 Tennessee - 27.1 PPG
#49 Kentucky - 26.2 PPG
#56 Auburn - 23.7 PPG

So, yeah - another close competition comparison. This puts this category as a slight Michigan lean, as their overall performance has been a bit better than Bama's here.

Now, let's look at the flip side of this category, where Michigan is averaging giving up - against Power-5 competition - 10.7 points per game while Bama has been averaging scoring 31.7 points per game. Here are the best scoring offenses the Michigan defense has faced:
#22 Penn State - 23.0 PPG
#26 Ohio State - 31.0 PPG
#41 Maryland - 27.9 PPG
#58 Purdue - 22.9 PPG
#80 Indiana - 19.6 PPG
#86 Rutgers - 18.3 PPG
#87 Minnesota - 18.2 PPG

And here are the best scoring defenses the Tide's offense has faced:
#12 Georgia - 18.5 PPG
#13 Texas - 18.9 PPG
#24 Auburn - 22.8 PPG
#36 Texas A&M - 25.9 PPG
#38 Tennessee - 26.0 PPG
#41 Ole Miss - 26.4 PPG
#55 Kentucky - 29.3 PPG
#55 Mississippi State - 29.3 PPG

This competition comparison leans heavily in Bama's favor, possibly evening up if not tilting the entire scoring category to Bama's favor.

Of course, statistical comparisons such as this are only as good as the levels of competition are similar, which is why I restricted it to Power-5 competition only. This particular game is a bit of an anomaly, as the cross-unit competition comparisons aren't usually this close. But, in this game, Michigan has faced better overall defenses than has Bama while Bama has faced better overall offenses than has Michigan. Meanwhile, this is the best offense Michigan will have faced and, conversely, the best defense Alabama will have faced. In statistical comparisons as close as this, the differences in a ballgame usually come down to five things, in this order:
1. Turnovers
2. Overall Team Speed
3. Offensive-Defensive Schemes
4. Special Teams
5. In-Game Coaching Adjustments

While Michigan is among the country's best in turnover margin, Alabama isn't far behind. Turnovers are also random and often have little to do with the level of competition (see Michigan turning it over four times versus Bowling Green) and, as such, are impossible to predict. I would tend to believe that Alabama would have the edge in overall team speed but this is another thing that is a bit hard to gauge until you get both teams on the field. Special Teams seems to be a bit of a wash or just a slight Bama lean. Which means that I believe this game will primarily come down to the Offensive & Defensive schemes these two teams run, their respective gameplans, and the in-game coaching adjustments.

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TL;DR - Final Thoughts

- Bama's 3-4 Over/Under (or is it 3-1-3-1-3 or 4-2-5?) is tailor-made to play Michigan's offense.
- Michigan's defense hasn't faced an offense as good as Bama's, as dynamic as Bama's, or a quarterback at all resembling what Jalen Milroe brings to the table.
- Michigan's offense will not be the best offense that Alabama's defense has faced this season, nor will it present anything the defense hasn't already seen.
- This Alabama has shown a penchant for making effective, in-game adjustments this season. I don't have a feel for Michigan here but I'd wager this is a push, at worst, if not a strong Bama advantage.
- No head coach has a better history of preparing teams for the post-season than Nick Saban.

It should be a good game but I'll take Bama in this one...
 

Amaizing Blue

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Hey all, Michigan fan here, as you probably figured out. I always like to join the forum of the team we are going to play in a bowl, just for fun. I can tell you a couple things about this game from our perspective. First, we are expecting a very close game, probably lower scoring. This might be our best team in my lifetime (59), and while you guys are a very good team, you aren't the hellbeast you were a few years ago. So, tight game. Second, the things we are most worried about are your mobile QB with a big arm and Saban having 4 weeks to prepare for us. Usually we have the coaching advantage, but not this time.
 

uafan4life

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I think it will be tough but we win. Their major injury to their line could haunt them offensively and Bama is a great defense getting healthier. I think 34-17 sounds good with a late pull away.
This could easily be a game where it feels much closer than the final score due to a garbage TD late...
 
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Cruloc

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I'll never go into any game expecting anything.

Ole Miss, I expected to lose, we won.

TAM, I didn't know what to expect with Milroe on the road, we won.

LSU, never expected our D to stonewall them in the second half....we won.

Auburn, I thought the team may have turned a corner, we very nearly blew it, but we won.

Georgia, I hoped we could win, we won.

I've been all over the place this year with this team. I never know what to expect....other than this team to be persistent and resilient. This bunch of kids is special, they play for each other. That's the difference in these games.
 

dathbama

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As you consider season stats here is another factor to consider: We are improving in leaps and bounds as the season progresses. As in most tournaments, what we are at the end of the season is the big factor. Also the momentum or being a "hot" team also is a factor.

What is the mindset of Michigan? Did they leap for joy upon hearing that they will be playing Alabama? There may be some doubt and anxiety about playing us.

Remember last year when one of our defensive players under Gol*ing expressed anxiety about playing Tennessee? Our attitude and on-field leadership makes a huge difference.
 

Power Eye

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With the exception of the Auburn game, and to me that can just be thrown out and be glad we won, I fell like we have gotten better and better every week since USF. You give Milroe a month to work on things and I just think he's going to be a better QB than he is today. Not dramatically better, but maybe a better decision maker on when to get rid of the ball or when to bail out of the pocket. Those are the things that hurt us typically.

I look at Michigan and see a very fundamentally sound team with good line play. However, the difference between us and them, to me, is the level of athlete in the secondary and skill positions. As long as we play sound football, and don't make mistakes, then I just think we will be too difficult to stop, and I don't think they can keep up offensively. The way the defense played Saturday, and their level of physicality, I just am not worried about Michigan's offense. I may get there as we get closer to the game, but not today.
 

cbi1972

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Gary said during the game that Freeze told them he had some plays that would cause us problems and he was right. I don't really know what they did different but the run D was back peddling all game.
The defensive adjustment that helped Alabama stymie Georgia in SEC Championship

“After the first drive, we played almost all split safeties,” Saban said postgame. " ... Middle-of-the-field coverage didn’t do us much good today.

“We went into the game thinking we couldn’t play it. But after the first drive, I said, ‘Can’t get any worse, let’s just start playing it.’ Because that was the plan. That was the plan that we wanted to take ‘em away. The guys did a good job of executing it.”
I also don't know what AU was doing and why Bama failed to adjust, but hope we are as quick to fix problems in the playoffs as we were in the SECC instead of being out of position and missing tackles.
 
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B1GTide

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With the exception of the Auburn game, and to me that can just be thrown out and be glad we won, I fell like we have gotten better and better every week since USF. You give Milroe a month to work on things and I just think he's going to be a better QB than he is today. Not dramatically better, but maybe a better decision maker on when to get rid of the ball or when to bail out of the pocket. Those are the things that hurt us typically.

I look at Michigan and see a very fundamentally sound team with good line play. However, the difference between us and them, to me, is the level of athlete in the secondary and skill positions. As long as we play sound football, and don't make mistakes, then I just think we will be too difficult to stop, and I don't think they can keep up offensively. The way the defense played Saturday, and their level of physicality, I just am not worried about Michigan's offense. I may get there as we get closer to the game, but not today.
The Michigan secondary is elite - every bit as good as Georgia.
 

B1GTide

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Understand that the entire Michigan offense centers around their ability to run the ball. Almost all of their pass plays rely on the run game to pull up the LBs and safeties in run support. Stop the run and you force their QB to make plays down the field in the passing game, and he is not that type of QB.

Michigan wins by dinking and dunking their way down the field. A negative yardage play most often is a drive killer for them.

So, stop the run and you win. But they are built to run the ball, so it will be harder than you realize. They have a very experienced offensive line and they don't make many mistakes. You are going to have to our physical them at the LOS, and this group takes pride in winning those ugly battles.
 

AlexanderFan

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Understand that the entire Michigan offense centers around their ability to run the ball. Almost all of their pass plays rely on the run game to pull up the LBs and safeties in run support. Stop the run and you force their QB to make plays down the field in the passing game, and he is not that type of QB.

Michigan wins by dinking and dunking their way down the field. A negative yardage play most often is a drive killer for them.

So, stop the run and you win. But they are built to run the ball, so it will be harder than you realize. They have a very experienced offensive line and they don't make many mistakes. You are going to have to our physical them at the LOS, and this group takes pride in winning those ugly battles.
Linebackers and Downs will have to weave through to make plays in the backfield.

I don’t think anyone is seriously taking them lightly, but it is fun to poke at Teflon khaki sleepover sign stealer, who FSU fans should really be mad at.
 

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