Alabama may be playing on New Year’s Day, but it won’t be in one of the premiere bowl games.

That’s rare for the Crimson Tide, who had been in the College Football Playoff each of the previous five seasons. But this year, they’re facing Michigan in the Citrus Bowl to end their season.

One factor that could determine the outcome of that game? Motivation, as former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer pointed out while breaking down the matchup for FOX Sports. He believes the result of the game will depend on how much effort Alabama puts into the game.

“This will be a big challenge for Nick Saban — can he get them to play?” Meyer said. “If he gets them to play, Alabama has the better team, I think they’ll walk away with it. If they don’t get them playing, I think they’ll lose. Remember, you win with people. I don’t care about schemes, I don’t care about anything. If Alabama’s motivated, they’ll win. If not, they’ll lose.”

Meyer understands what it’s like to have a team playing in a lesser bowl game than it would like. He experienced the same thing at times while leading the Buckeyes, and he compared that to what the Crimson Tide are likely going through at this point.

“This is a very un-Alabama bowl for Alabama. This will be one of Nick Saban’s hardest jobs to motivate,” Meyer said. “You don’t have to motivate to play in the Iron Bowl. You don’t have to motivate to play in the Fiesta Bowl for the national championship. Alabama is in the Citrus Bowl. It doesn’t even sound right. …

“I was always very fearful, and it happened in 2009. We just won a championship in ’08, you’re preseason No. 1, you lose one freaking game, you’re stuck in this Sugar Bowl. I say stuck in the Sugar Bowl, the Sugar Bowl’s a historic, great game. We had 5,000 tickets unsold. The team was not motivated, it was hard to get them going. I used to come out and just scrimmage right away to get their mind off of the frustration of not playing in the big-time bowl game.”

Alabama and Michigan are set to kick off on Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET on ABC.