ORLANDO - The Michigan Wolverines, after a shocking 85 yard touchdown strike from Alabama quarterback Mac Jones to wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, recovered from that body blow enough to lead 16-14 at the half of the the Vrbo Citrus Bowl, but the University of Alabama Crimson Tide made some quick adjustments on defense, then ran straight into the Wolverine defense for a 35-16 win on January 1 in Orlando's Camping World Stadium.
"They were hurting us running the ball mostly when they were in two tight ends and two receivers," said Alabama coach Nick Saban, who finishes at 11-2. "In the second half, we decided to play nickel. We're a little smaller on the field when we do that, but it's easier to adjust and the players did a really good job
of it and we were able to pressure more, which really helped us stop the run."
Tops on offense for the ninth ranked Tide was wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, the MVP of the contest, who snagged a career-high 204 yards with an 85 yard scoring strike on the first play from scrimmage for Alabama. Jeudy broke the Alabama bowl record of 178 pass catch yards set in 1967 by Ray Perkins in the Sugar Bowl.
"It's really a team effort, really," said Jeudy. "So everything, starting from the O-line, to the
quarterback, to the play calling, we just executed very well and I just did what I had to do when my name was
Michigan recovered from the Tide's opening scoring salvo with a 34 yard pass play to the Alabama 18 that got a seven yard scoring pass from quarterback Shea Patterson to wideout Nick Eubanks that tied the score at 7-7.
Michigan would get two field goals; one a 57-yarder, to go up 16-7 before Alabama kept possession via three Wolverine penalties to set up a nine yard rush touchdown from running back Najee Harris.
Opening the third period, Jones again found an early pass catcher in full tilt; DeVonta Smith, to surprise the Wolverine defense for another quick score; a 42 yarder with just 90 seconds off the clock. Jones hit a 20 yarder in the fourth quarter to Miller Forristall and Harris dove in on a two yarder to close the game, 35-14.