Alabama vs. Michigan
When: Noon, Wednesday
Where: Orlando, Florida
Records: Alabama 10-2, Michigan 9-3
Radio: 95.3 FM, 102.9 FM
ORLANDO – Two of the most historic football programs in college football face each other in the Citrus Bowl.
At least that’s how the head coaches Nick Saban and Jim Harbaugh feel about today’s clash between Alabama and Michigan. There is also a mutual respect for each other’s program.
“It’s a great opportunity for our team to play an iconic, traditional program like the University of Michigan,” Saban said. “You know, Coach Harbaugh and his staff have done an outstanding job with their team and had a great season and (it’s) certainly going to be a challenge for our team to be able to compete against them. We have a lot of respect for what they have been able to accomplish. They certainly played some of their best football toward the end of the season.”
Said Harbaugh, “There’s just a lot of excitement to play an iconic program like Alabama. Coach Saban and his staff have really set the bar, lead the program. Great football team. And it’s a big challenge for us but a great opportunity for our season, for this 2019 season.”
They are two of the most storied programs in college football, yet have only faced off four times, the last time in 2012 with Alabama cruising to a 41-14 win in the season opener. The series is tied 2-2.
The two college heavyweights aren’t where they want to be for New Year’s, Alabama (10-2) missing the College Football for the first time and Michigan coming in with a 9-3 mark. Still, both teams have put in the work over the last several weeks to try and end the season with a win to set a foundation for the 2020 campaign.
“I think a lot of it has to do with mindset,” Saban said. “I think our team is a little disappointed in the way we finished the season and maybe didn’t reach some of the goals that we had initially in terms of what we wanted to accomplish and what we wanted to do as a team. So this game against a very, very good team that has great tradition is certainly an opportunity for our players to sort of go out and play well against a good team. And maybe you can diminish some of the disappointments of the season. That’s kind of been the approach with the players, and we’ve had good work.”
The Crimson Tide got some good news Monday night when linebacker Dylan Moses announced he will return next season instead of entering the NFL Draft. One of the undisputed leaders of the defense, Moses missed the entire season after sustaining a torn ACL in August.
As far as the team that will be on the field today, Harbaugh was impressed with the Crimson Tide in all phases, particularly the return game.
You know, (they’re) physical – a physical football team and defensively, you know, it’s really the same thing,“ Harbaugh said. ”It’s a very attacking, multiple coverages. The special teams is really dangerous, especially in the return game. The punt return, the kickoff return, in all facets. Everything is tight. Everything is battened down. There are no weaknesses.“
Reach Edwin Stanton at firstname.lastname@example.org, 205-722-0226 or via Twitter, @edwinstantonu2