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Citrus Bowl (ABC, 1:00 p.m. ET)
Michigan vs. Alabama
Citrus Bowl Betting History
-- The Michigan Wolverines (9-3 straight up, 7-5 against the spread) from the Big Ten Conference will ring in the new year with the Alabama Crimson Tide (10-2 straight up, 6-6 against the spread) from the Southeastern Conference in the VRBO Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla. at Camping World Stadium.
-- Michigan regitered a few nice victories during the season, including wins over bowl teams Iowa, Illinois, Michigan State and Indiana, as well as a 45-14 whitewashing of Notre Dame back on Oct. 26. However, they also showed how far away they are from the College Football Playoffs, as they were blown out 35-14 at Wisconsin on Sept. 21, and 56-27 in the season finale on their home field against rival Ohio State, while also slipping 28-21 at Penn State on Oct. 19. That blowout loss to the Buckeyes snapped a 5-0 ATS run from Oct. 19-Nov. 23. They also closed on a 3-0 'over' streak, and 6-1 run in the final seven.
-- Alabama is a perennial national championship contender, and anything less than an appearance in the playoffs is viewed as a huge disappointment. That's where the Crimson Tide appeared to be rolling, even after a 46-41 loss to LSU on Nov. 9. Certainly the Tide gave the Tigers their biggest test of the season. However, that made the road to the CFP much more difficult since a trip to the SEC Championship Game was off the table, and a 48-45 loss at Auburn in the finale blocked the road completely. They ended up just 2-2 ATS in the final four, and 5-6 ATS in their final 11 of the season.
-- Each of these teams obviously have long and extensive bowl histories. The Wolverines have enjoyed their previous appearances in Orlando, as Jim Harbaugh's group squeezed Florida 41-7 in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1, 2016. They also topped Florida 41-35 when the bowl was called the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1, 2008. They made back-to-back appearances in this bowl in 2001 and 2002, topping Auburn and losing to Tennessee in 2002. They topped Arkansas 45-31 on Jan. 1, 1999, too.
-- These teams have met a handful of times during bowl season. The last time was a duel between the Tide's RB Shaun Alexander and the Wolverines with QB Tom Brady. The result was a 35-34 win by Michigan in overtime as a result of a missed extra point. They also met in the Outback Bowl, with the Tide coming out on top by a 17-14 score on Jan. 1, 1997, while the Wolverines won the Hall of Fame Bowl (now Outback) on Jan. 1, 1988 by a 28-24 margin. So Alabama will be looking to even the all-time ledger in bowl games at 2-2.
-- Alabama ranked seventh in total yards with 513.5 per game, while checking in third in passing yards per game at 343.5. They weren't particularly special rushing the football, ranking 57th with 170.0 yards per game, but they were second in the country with 48.3 PPG. Defensively they were solid as usual, ranking 17th in total yards (318.8), 10th in passing yards (183.4) and 36th in rushing yards (135.3) allowed while yielding 18.8 PPG to rank 15th.
-- Of course, QB Tua Tagovailoa (hip) was under center for a majority of that time. He will skip this bowl game, and it will be QB Mac Jones leading the way. The team will be without CB Trevon Diggs and LB Terrell Lewis, who elected to skip the game to prepare for the NFL Draft, but projected first-rounders WRs Henry Ruggs III, Jerry Jeudy and DeVonta Smith will also suit up for Nick Saban's group.
-- Michigan wasn't quite as dangerous on offense, ranking an average 68th in total yards (402.7), while ending up 50th in passing yards (252.3) and rushing yards (150.3), while scoring 33.0 PPG to check in 38th. Defensively, they had it on lockdown, ranking seventh in total yards allowed (293.9), while finishing fifth in passing yards (173.8) allowed, 23rd in rushing yards allowed (120.2) and 18th in points allowed (19.5).
-- Michigan hasn't won a neutral-site or road game against an Associated Press Top 15 team in each of the past 19 outings since head coach Lloyd Carr's final game against Florida in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1, 2008, 41-35.
-- The Wolverines are 4-1 ATS in the past five games against winning teams, while going 5-1 ATS in the past six games overall. However, Michigan is 1-4 ATS in the past five bowl games and 2-8 ATS in the past 10 non-conference tilts.
-- The Tide are just 2-5 ATS in the past seven against winning teams. However, they're 6-1 ATS in the previous seven against Big Ten teams.
-- The over has cashed in four straight bowl games for Michigan, while going 8-0 in their past eight showings against SEC foes. The over is also 12-2 in their past 14 neutral-site games, and 4-0 in the previous four bowl games, too.
-- The over has connected in seven of the past 10 non-conference tilts for Bama, and 12-5 in their past 17 bowl games. The over is also 4-1 in the previous five against teams with a winning overall record.
Outback Bowl (ESPN, 1:00 p.m.)
Minnesota vs. Auburn
Outback Bowl Betting History
-- The Outback Bowl has the Minnesota Golden Gophers (10-2 straight up, 7-4-1 against the spread) from the Big Ten Conference meeting the Auburn Tigers (9-3 straight-up, 9-3 against the spread) from the Southeastern Conference at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
-- Minnesota surprised this season, and was unbeaten into mid-November while they flirted with the potential of a trip to the College Football Playoffs. However, all of those considerations ended with a 23-19 loss at Iowa, and they also had their doors blown off against Wisconsin, 38-17, losing Paul Bunyan's Axe in the season finale. Losing Floyd of Rosedale and Paul Bunyan's Axe in the same season is likely a huge disappointment to Minnesota despite the double-digit wins.
-- Auburn had a near-playoff experience this season. They kicked off the campaign with a 27-21 win over Oregon on a neutral-site, winning and cover each of their first five. They slipped up 24-13 at Florida on Oct. 5, but remaining in the mix until a 23-20 loss at LSU on Oct. 26. Still, that was an impressive showing, and served notice that they can play with anyone in the land. They also fell 21-14 to Georgia on Nov. 16, but capped off their season with an impressive 48-45 win over Alabama in the season finale to roll into bowl season on a very high note.
-- Minnesota claims seven national championships, including 1904, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1940, 1941 and 1960. The last time they won it all, Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, so yeah, it's been a while, but they have a long and storied football history. However, in that long history they have never faced Auburn on the gridiron, so Wednesday's game will be a first. The Golden Gophers lost seven straight bowl games from 2005 through 2015, but have rattled off three bowl wins in a row over Central Michigan in the Quick Lane Bowl (2015), 17-12 over Washington State in the Holiday Bowl (2016) ad 34-10 over Georgia Tech last season in P.J. Fleck's first bowl, another Quick Lane Bowl victory. This is their first appearance on New Year's Day since losing 33-17 to Missouri in the Citrus Bowl, however, another SEC team. They haven't beaten an SEC team since topping Alabama Dec. 31, 2004 in the Music City Bowl under Glen Mason.
-- The Golden Gophers rank 50th in total yards (426.8) on offense, while ranking 51st in passing yards (251.2). They were also 47th in rushing yards (175.7) while checking in 23rd in points scored (34.3). Defensively the Golden Gophers were very underrated, ranking 14th with 312.8 yards per game, 12th in passing yards allowed (184.9) and 28th in rushing yards allowed (127.9). They also yielded just 22.4 PPG to rank a respectable 35th.
-- The Tigers struggled in the pass game, as freshman QB Bo Nix had some consistency issues. They ranked 51st in total yards (421.4), while ranking just 85th in passing yards (210.1) per contest. They ran well, piling up 211.3 yards, while scoring 34.0 PPG to rank 29th. On defense, they ranked 19th in total yards allowed (323.9), 41st in passing yards (208.4) per game and 20th in rushing yards (115.5) yielded, while coughing up just 18.6 PPG to rank 13th.
-- The Golden Gophers covered seven of the past nine games overall, while going 6-2 ATS in the past eight games as an underdog. They were 6-2-1 ATS in the past nine non-conference tilts, too.
-- The Tigers are 10-3 ATS in the past 13 games overall, while cashing in five of the previous seven against winning teams. They're also an impressive 6-0 ATS in the past six non-conference battles, while connecting in 10 of the past 12 games as a favorite.
-- The over has hit in five of the past six overall for the Golden Gophers, although the under is 4-1 in Minnesota's past five neutral-site games and 7-2 in the past nine against winning teams. The under is 13-6 in the past 19 non-conference tilts, too.
-- The under is 7-1-2 in the previous 10 neutral-site battles, 4-1 in the past five games overall and 4-1-1 in the past six bowl outings. The under is also 18-6-2 in the past 26 non-conference battles, while going 24-11-1 in the past 36 against winning sides.
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