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2020 Citrus Bowl: Alabama defeats Michigan to conclude season

It wasn’t the ending the Tide hoped for, but they finished strong regardless.

NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl-Michigan vs Alabama Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time since the 2014 season, the Alabama Crimson Tide’s football season is over on January 1. Alabama, who aren’t in the College Football Playoff for the first time in the event’s history, wrapped up their season with a 35-16 victory over the Michigan Wolverines Wednesday afternoon in Orlando.

The Tide set the tone from their very first offense play. Following a three-and-out, Mac Jones took the snap at the Alabama 15 and found Jerry Jeudy in stride for an 85 yard touchdown.

If Jeudy is NFL bound after this game, as many seem to think he will be, he certainly closed out his Alabama career with a bang, finishing the afternoon with 204 receiving yards on six receptions and the Citrus Bowl MVP award. Jeudy is just the fourth receiver to take home the award since 2000, joining Plaxico Burress, Alshon Jeffrey, and Miles Boykin.

The other shining star among Alabama’s skill players was running back Najee Harris, who had 24 carries for 136 yards and found the end zone twice. As has been the case for Alabama for the last 15 years, they had a strong, solid running back who was able to get yards whenever they needed them.

After Jeudy’s game-opening touchdown, Michigan actually looked to be getting things together/ They forced three straight Alabama punts, and came away with 10 points as a result to take a 10-7 lead into the second quarter. If you’ve watched Michigan under Jim Harbaugh against elite teams, though, you knew the lead wouldn’t last.

The Wolverines relied on field goals to stay in a game against Alabama, which is a fool’s errand. Combine that strategy with Alabama’s defense clamping down in the second half (the Wolverines had just 20 yards of offense in the final 15 minutes of the game) and the Tide rolled to an easy victory.

Tua Tagovailoa may still return to Alabama next season. His decision is reportedly coming on Monday. If he doesn’t, though, Mac Jones showed that the Crimson Tide are in good hands. Jones finished the Citrus Bowl with 327 yards on 16-27 passing, and three touchdowns.

For Michigan, this marks another disappointing end to the season, as they’ve now lost four straight bowl games. At some point, you have to wonder if they’ll ever get over the hump under Jim Harbaugh.