It's the coaching battle we've been anticipating for quite a while now: Nick Saban vs. Jim Harbaugh. No. 13 Alabama vs. No. 14 Michigan in the Citrus Bowl isn't game many were expecting to see with these two coaches patrolling the sidelines in the College Football Playoff, but it is taking place on New Year's Day. So, that does speak to some importance.
However, with the season-ending injury to Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, along with a couple of key players skipping the game, what kind of result are we in for? Motivation, justified or not, is a factor for both teams this time of year. Some players are looking ahead to the NFL Draft while some assistant coaches may be eyeing other jobs. That can make results unpredictable, so let's dive into what watch for when the Tide and Wolverines face off in Orlando.
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What will go down in the 2020 Citrus Bowl? Keep on reading for a full breakdown of the game along with our experts' picks and some analysis on the spread.
Alabama: It's probably not fair to call Alabama's 2019 season a lost one. The floor under Saban is 10 wins, and that's guaranteed no matter what happens in this game. Yes, the injuries dating all the way back to linebacker Dylan Moses before the season began put Bama behind a bit. Yes, the Tide are more accustomed to playing for national titles than Citrus Bowl trophies. But it seems as though most of the starters are committed to playing in this game outside of linebacker Terrell Lewis and safety Trevon Diggs. That, on the surface, seems like good news for the whole "motivation" storyline. Saban is also 2-0 in non-major bowl games with Alabama (2007 Independence Bowl, 2010 Capital One Bowl).
Michigan: The Citrus Bowl ends another overall successful but somewhat unfulfilling season for Harbaugh's Wolverines. A lot of that stems from his inability to beat Ohio State, but a win against Alabama would notch his fourth 10-win season in his five years in Ann Arbor. That's no easy accomplishment, even at a place like Michigan. It would also give Harbaugh a marquee win to head into the offseason. Michigan went 1-3 against Iowa, Wisconsin, Penn State and Ohio State, and its best win of the season was against Notre Dame. It could also be a big moment for quarterback Shea Patterson, who's had his ups and downs but has been entertaining to watch when he's on a run.
Event: Citrus Bowl
Date: Wednesday, Jan. 1 | Time: 1 p.m. ET
Location: Camping World Stadium -- Orlando, Florida
TV: ABC | Live stream: WatchESPN.com
Citrus Bowl prediction, picks
Bowl games can be hard to predict, but this is especially true for the Citrus Bowl. It's an intriguing match, to be sure, and it could be exciting if both teams show up ready to prove a point. While Mac Jones is no Tua, he was certainly capable in the Iron Bowl loss against Auburn and has now had extra time to develop chemistry with the Tide's great wide receivers. That ends up being the difference. Pick: Alabama (-7.5)
So who will win Michigan vs. Alabama, and which side of the spread can you bank on in over 50 percent of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the spread to jump on, all from the advanced model that is up nearly $4,000 on its top-rated picks.