June 16, 2024

The Rose Bowl stage has more history and significance than any other. This might be the game of a lifetime as it serves as the site for the College Football Playoff Semifinal between the Michigan Wolverines and the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Michigan, who finished first in FPI, second in resume strength, and with one of the strongest defenses in college football, was the best team in college football during the regular season. They also earned the top slot in the CFP. Conversely, the Crimson Tide squad emerged victorious in the second half of the season, defeating the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC championship game to smuggle themselves into the postseason.

While there are many plot points to discuss regarding the College Football Playoff Semifinal game, let’s focus on the statistics and matchups to keep an eye on in the Rose Bowl of 2024.

Top Rose Bowl matchups, stats that will determine the winner

The trenches are where it all begins. The main issues were up front when Alabama’s offense was having trouble this season and head coach Nick Saban was switching around quarterbacks. The Crimson Tide’s offensive line was among the worst in the Power 5 as well as the SEC, so even as Milroe got used to his new life, he was under pressure.

Still, as the season progressed, this unit began to become comfortable. Although Milroe was still under pressure at a pretty high rate, some of the pressures and sacks taken might also be attributed to the signal-caller. Having said that, more time in the pocket helped Milroe develop into a strong candidate for the Heisman Trophy and one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the second half of the campaign. Still, clean pockets against Michigan are unusual.

Throughout the regular season, the pass rush of the Wolverines was among the best in the country. Not only are the overall season statistics remarkable, but Jesse Minter, the defensive coordinator, particularly benefited from it in a few pivotal games.

Against Penn State in Week 11, Michigan’s pressure rate on 29 Nittany Lion dropbacks was 31%. A few weeks later, the Wolverines’ defense yielded six pressures, four hurries, and a 19.4% pressure rate in their matchup with Ohio State.

Alabama’s improved pass defense is encouraging, particularly considering that in the SEC Championship game, it gave up just 4 pressures and 1 quarterback hit to the Georgi Bulldogs, registering a 91.4 PFE. But this is one of the Wolverines’ greatest advantages, and it might be essential to slowing Milroe down.

Jalen Milroe and the importance of time to throw

Michigan defensive coordinator Jesse Minter will have his team succeed if the Wolverines’ front routinely penetrates Alabama’s offensive line and scores on Milroe. Things get complicated if that pressure doesn’t bring home a regularly good shower.

Stats for Jalen Milroe in relation to pressure: 22nd-ranked 55.9 PFF grade; 23rd-ranked 45.8% completion rate; 2nd-ranked 10.0 yards per attempt; 5-2 TD-INT; 8.5% TD rate; 3.4% INT rate
Even if Alabama’s offensive line is routinely breached by the Wolverines, Milroe excels at buying time with his legs. This season, he had the fifth-highest scramble average (5.61) per game, and with the additional time, explosive plays downfield became possible.

It is evident that Milroe’s passing success is greatly impacted by tardiness. What Milroe can accomplish will depend on Michigan’s pressure rate and how frequently it prevails in games at the line of scrimmage.

Jalen Milroe’s clean pocket metrics are as follows: 10.6 yards per attempt (2nd), 71.3% completion rate (18th), and 92.5 PFF grade (4th). 9% TD rate, 1.9% INT rate, and 18-4 TD-INT
When Michigan’s pass-rushing team plays against the Crimson Tide’s offensive line, this will be the first domino to fall. The effectiveness of Milroe as a passer will ultimately depend on which team succeeds.



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