Jacksonville Sports Day

VRBO CITRUS BOWL: It’s Alabama and Michigan on New Year’s Day

ORLANDO – The No. 13 Alabama Crimson Tide (10-2, 6-2 SEC) and the 14th-ranked Michigan Wolverines (9-3, 6-3 Big Ten) will meet in the Vrbo Citrus Bowl. Florida Citrus Sports chairman Tom Sittema and CEO Steve Hogan announced the matchup Sunday on behalf of the organization’s Team Selection Committee.

The 74th edition of the game will take place at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 1 at Camping World Stadium and will be televised nationally by ABC.

This year’s Vrbo Citrus Bowl will be the fifth all-time meeting between the Crimson Tide and Wolverines and the first since an Alabama victory over Michigan during the opening week of the 2012 season. The all-time series between the teams is tied 2-2.

Alabama is 2-0 in two previous appearances in the Vrbo Citrus Bowl, with the most recent coming in 2011 against Michigan State. Michigan is 4-1 in five previous Vrbo Citrus Bowl appearances, with the most recent appearance coming in 2016, a 41-7 victory over Florida.

Winners of two of the past four CFP national championships, Alabama ranks second nationally in scoring at 48.3 points per game and ranks third among FBS teams in passing offense with 343.5 yards per game through the air. Devonta Smith (1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns) and Jerry Jeudy (959 yards and nine touchdowns) lead the Alabama receiving corps, and Najee Harris has paced the Alabama rushing attack with 1,088 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. In two games since taking over as Crimson Tide starting quarterback, Mac Jones has thrown for 610 yards and seven touchdowns.

Alabama also ranks 17th nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 318.6 yards per game, and its pass defense ranks No. 9 among FBS programs at 183.4 yards allowed per game. Xavier McKinney leads the Tide defense with 85 total tackles on the season, while Anfernee Jennings (12 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks) and Terrell Lewis (11.5 tackles for loss, six sacks) have been disruptive in the backfield all season long.

Michigan enters the game ranked sixth nationally in total defense, allowing 292.8 yards per game, and has held opposing quarterbacks to just 173.8 passing yards per game. The Wolverines have held opponents to 19.5 points per game and Khaleke Hudson leads the team with 96 tackles. Defensive end Kwity Paye (12.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks) and linebacker Josh Uche (10.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks) have also had strong seasons, and Ambry Thomas and Lavert Hill lead the defense with three interceptions each.

Offensively, the Wolverines come in averaging 33 points per game and are paced by quarterback Shea Patterson, who ranks in the top three in the Big Ten in passing yards (2,828) and passing touchdowns (22) and has also added five rushing touchdowns this season. Zach Charbonnet is Michigan’s top-producing running back with 642 yards and 11 touchdowns, while Ronnie Bell (705 yards), Nico Collins (681 yards and seven touchdowns) and Donovan Peoples-Jones (404 yards and six touchdowns) lead the Wolverines receiving corps.

Tickets for the Vrbo Citrus Bowl are available via Ticketmaster by visiting https://bigtime.games/2020vcbtix. Groups of 10 or more may call the Florida Citrus Sports offices at 407.423.2476.

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