Not much more can be said about Monday's Rose Bowl game sales other than the facts. It is college football Playoff semifinal between No.1 Michigan and no. 4 Alabama. It is the winningest program in college football history against the most dominant program of the modern era. Oh, and it's being played at one of the most storied stadiums in college football lore in the most storied game of them all.
What more could you reasonably ask for in a high-stakes football game? Well, how about both teams going in under some questionable circumstances. Michigan is 13-0, but coach Jim Harbaugh has been sidelined for six of those games due to two separate three-game suspensions — one for recruiting violations and the other for a sign-stealing scandal that has gripped the nation most of the season.
However, it was captivating until another controversy grabbed everyone's attention. This one came on Sunday's CFP selection after No. 4 seed Alabama blew past the ACC champions 13-0: No. 5 Florida State. The one-loss Crimson Tide beat #6 Georgia a day earlier in the SEC Championship Game, while the Seminoles were punished for limping to the ACC title game without a starting quarterback Jordan Travis.
Whether you're a college football traditionalist or someone who prefers mayhem, there's something here for everyone.
Michigan vs. Alabama: Need to know
No team has more CFP experience than Alabama: The Tide's eighth appearance in the College Football Playoff, two more than the next closest team (Clemson, which has six). The Rose Bowl marks Alabama's 14th CFP game, four more than Clemson's 10 contests. Alabama won the CFP three times and reached the championship game six times. The only time she failed to win in the semifinals was the first year of the CFP era (2014) when she lost to Ohio State 42-35 in the Sugar Bowl.
Michigan makes its third straight CFP trip: The Wolverines are a case study in how results affect perception. This will be their third appearance in the College Football Playoff. That suits Georgia, but the difference is in the results. Georgia has reached the title game in all three CFP appearances, winning the last two. Meanwhile, Michigan still hasn't won in the playoffs. Defeated 34-11 by Georgia in 2021 Orange Bowl and upset 51-45 by TCU in last season's Fiesta Bowl. It's one thing to get to the CFP, it's another thing to win once you're there. Michigan hopes the third time will prove the charm.
This will be the fourth semi-final game of the Rose Bowl: The first ever College Football Playoff game was hosted by the Rose Bowl, and it wasn't competitive. Oregon blew out Florida State, 59-20. The last time the game was played in Pasadena, California, it was a similar score to the one Alabama hit Notre Dame 31-14 during the 2020 season However, the 2017 game between Georgia and Oklahoma was one of the greatest college football playoff semifinals we've ever seen. Georgia beat Oklahoma 54-48 in double overtime to send the Bulldogs to the title game, where they lost (once again in overtime) to Alabama. Let's hope this year's Rose Bowl looks more like the 2017 game than the 2014 or 2020 version.
How to watch the Rose Bowl live
date: Monday, January 1 | time: 5:00 PM ET
Location: The Rose Bowl — Pasadena, California
TV: ESPN | live stream: Fubo (Try it for free)
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Rose Bowl prediction, picks
Odds via SportsLine consensus
You can argue all you want about whether Alabama deserves to be here, but there's one thing no one can dispute: The Crimson Tide can win this thing. That doesn't mean they will; this Alabama team is probably one of the weakest teams of the Nick Saban era (excluding his first season), but the context of that sentence is important. Alabama's weakest team in Saban's tenure is still a team that can beat 99% of the teams it faces.
It's true that this game could honestly swing either way, but given the history of these teams in the CFP, it's hard to pass up Alabama getting points against a Michigan team that has yet to win a playoff game. The Tide have won three national titles in this format and won more playoff games (nine) than any other program. Maybe Michigan's first CFP win will come in the Rose Bowl against Alabama, but I need proof of concept before betting on it. Pick: Alabama -1.5
What college football picks can you confidently make during bowl season? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread – all from a proven computer model that has produced more than $2,000 in profit over the past seven-plus seasons – and find out.