Alabama to Play Michigan in The Citrus Bowl
The Alabama Crimson Tide is ranked 13th in the final College Football Playoff rankings of the season. Alabama dropped one spot from 12 to 13 despite not playing a game this past weekend. The Crimson Tide has been chosen to play in the Vrbo Citrus Bowl to conclude its season. It will be Alabama’s first appearance outside of the “New Year’s Six” bowl game since 2011 when the Tide competed in the Capitol One Bowl. Alabama will take on 14th ranked Michigan.
The Citrus Bowl will be held on January 1, 2020 at 12 p.m. central time in Orlando, Florida at Camping World Stadium. Alabama most recently played at Camping World Stadium in the 2018 season opener against Louisville; the Tide won 51-14. The Tide last played in the Citrus Bowl in 1995, defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes 24-17. Harbough’s Michigan program last played in the Citrus Bowl in 2016, beating Florida 41-7.
Alabama is 2-2 all-time against Michigan, winning the most recent matchup in the 2012 season opener 41-14. Brady Hoke was coaching Michigan at the time. It will be the first time Nick Saban has coached against Michigan coach Jim Harbough. Saban and Harbough have exchanged verbal jabs since Harbough has taken over the Michigan program, most notably concerning the issue of satellite camps in 2016.
Coach Saban responded in an an ESPN interview, “I don’t really care what he thinks or tweets. I say what I think is best for college football and the players.”
Harbough made headlines most recently in 2019 when a review of John U. Bacon’s book “Overtime: Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines at the Crossroads of College Football” circulated social media. Jeff Arnold, writing for Forbes said, “Harbaugh, who has made plenty of enemies south of the Mason-Dixon line since taking over at Michigan, has poked the cages of SEC coaches repeatedly and in the book, speaks to the disparity in spending by simply telling Bacon, “(It’s) hard to beat the cheaters.”
No championship will be on the line in Orlando, which begs the question, how many players for both programs will choose to forgo the bowl game and opt to prepare themselves for their NFL futures? Last season Michigan played the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl short-handed as multiple draft eligible players opted to sit out in favor of preparing for the draft process. Alabama has not had to deal with this circumstance as it has made the College Football Playoff each of the last five seasons.