Crim­son Tide prove to be too much for Michi­gan

No. 9 Alabama ral­lies from early deficit to win Cit­rus

Antelope Valley Press - - Sports - By TIM REYNOLDS

OR­LANDO, Fla. — Jerry Jeudy could have sat out Alabama’s bowl game and still al­most cer­tainly would have been a first-round draft pick.

He played in­stead — and if this was his fi­nale, his stock likely soared.

Mac Jones threw three touch­down passes, Jeudy be­came the first Alabama player to top 200 re­ceiv­ing yards in a bowl game and the ninth-ranked Crim­son Tide topped No. 17 Michi­gan 35-16 on Wed­nes­day in the Cit­rus Bowl.

“I’ve played foot­ball all my life,” said Jeudy, the ju­nior who was the game’s MVP pick. “I couldn’t just sit out there and watch my team play . ... I love play­ing foot­ball, so I just came out here and com­peted with my broth­ers.”

Jones con­nected with Jeudy for an 85-yard score on Alabama’s first snap, DeVonta Smith and Miller For­ristall added touch­down grabs in the sec­ond half for the Crim­son Tide (11-2), which trailed 16-14 at the break. Na­jee Har­ris ran for 136 yards and two touch­downs for Alabama.

Jeudy fin­ished with six catches for 204 yards. His pre­vi­ous ca­reer-high for yards was 147 set last sea­son against Mis­souri, and the Alabama bowl record had stood for more than a half-cen­tury — Ray Perkins had 178 yards against Ne­braska in the 1967 Su­gar Bowl.

“Cer­tainly, he used this op­por­tu­nity to show­case his abil­ity so it prob­a­bly even en­hanced his op­por­tu­ni­ties at the next level,” said Alabama coach Nick Sa­ban, whose team outscored Michi­gan 21-0 af­ter half­time. “Very, very proud of our team.”

Jones — who took over as Alabama’s starter when Tua Tago­v­ailoa was lost for the sea­son with an in­jury in Novem­ber — com­pleted 16 of 25 passes for 327 yards.

Shea Pat­ter­son com­pleted 17 of 37 passes for 233 yards and a touch­down for Michi­gan (9-4), which dropped its fourth con­sec­u­tive bowl game. Quinn Nordin kicked three field goals for the Wolver­ines, in­clud­ing a school-record Thou­sands

ty­ing 57-yarder to end the first half and give Michi­gan the lead.

“It was a hard-fought game,” Michi­gan coach Jim Har­baugh said. “Con­grat­u­la­tions to Alabama. I thought both teams played ex­tremely hard.”

The Crim­son Tide had two touch­down drives of 90 sec­onds or less — Jeudy’s score on Alabama’s first play and a long go-ahead touch­down grab by Smith early in the third quar­ter. They were quick-strike all sea­son long, with 22 TD drives tak­ing 1:30 or less and 38 TDs com­ing in 2:00 or less.

And the last of those was the one that put this game away for Alabama with 10:01 re­main­ing.

Fac­ing 3rd-and-11 from its own 8, Jones con­nected with Jeudy for 14 yards. On the next snap, Jones and Jeudy hooked up for 58 more yards. And the next snap was a 20-yard scor­ing pass to a wide-open For­ristall. THE TAKE­AWAY Michi­gan: The Wolver­ines have dropped 16 straight road or neu­tral-site games against teams ranked No. 15 or higher in the AP poll, in­clud­ing all 10 un­der Har­baugh. The last time the Wolver­ines won such a game was Jan. 3, 2012 over then No. 11 Vir­ginia Tech.

Alabama: It was the 12th bowl or play­off-game win for Sa­ban. That tied him with Paul “Bear” Bryant for the most in school his­tory. And the Crim­son Tide won their 27th con­sec­u­tive game when al­low­ing less than 40 points.

PLAY­ING

Alabama WR Henry Ruggs III — a 2020 first-round draft pos­si­bil­ity if he skips his se­nior sea­son — took a shot to the head with 9:30 left in the third quar­ter and was placed into the con­cus­sion pro­to­col. The Crim­son Tide had only two play­ers skip the bowl game for draft prepa­ra­tion, cor­ner­back Trevon Diggs and line­backer Ter­rell Lewis. Har­ris was an­other who might jump to the NFL who elected to play for Alabama.

POLL IM­PLI­CA­TIONS Alabama should stay in the top 10 for the 76th con­sec­u­tive edi­tion of the AP Top 25, mov­ing into a tie for the fifth-long­est streak in poll his­tory.

NORDIN’S DAY

Along with the school-record-ty­ing 57-yarder to end the half — Hay­den Ep­stein also con­nected from 57 yards out in the first quar­ter at Michi­gan State on Nov. 3, 2001 — Nordin fin­ished the day 3 for 3 on field goal tries. It wrapped up a per­fect sea­son for kick­ers fac­ing the Crim­son Tide: They went 20 for 20 on field goals. SPE­CIAL GUEST Mi­ami Dol­phins owner Stephen Ross and mem­bers of the team’s front of­fice were on the field pregame, watch­ing warmups. Ross is a prom­i­nent Michi­gan alum — there is a Stephen M. Ross Ath­letic Cam­pus span­ning 280,000 square feet in Ann Ar­bor. And the Dol­phins are also one of the teams that seem likely to con­sider draft­ing Tago­v­ailoa if he turns pro.

Associated Press

MVP Alabama wide re­ceiver Jerry Jeudy (4) runs af­ter a re­cep­tion past Michi­gan line­backer Jor­dan Glas­gow (29) dur­ing the first half of the Cit­rus Bowl NCAA col­lege foot­ball game on Wed­nes­day in Or­lando, Fla.

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