Overtime was required in the first of the two College Football Playoff national semifinals on New Year’s Day, as the Michigan Wolverines beat the Alabama Crimson Tide 27-20.
As usual, the Rose Bowl did not disappoint.
Michigan’s imperfect season off the field remains perfect on the field. The Wolverines, who have brought an us-against-the-world mentality with them into the College Football Playoff, beat Alabama in overtime on Monday evening at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh’s squad scored a late touchdown to force OT, quickly found the endzone on the first possession of the extra frame and then came up with a game-winning stop on fourth down to clinch victory.
Teams always turn to their best players in the biggest games and most important moments. Michigan did just that on Monday afternoon.
Quarterback J.J. McCarthy completed 17 of 27 passes for 221 yards and three touchdowns without committing a turnover.
Running back Blake Corum scored two TDs and amassed 118 yards from scrimmage. Wide receiver Roman Wilson caught four passes for 73 yards and a score, while coming up especially clutch on the Wolverines tying drive late in the fourth quarter.
Corum scored what proved to be the game-winner with a 17-yard run on the second play of overtime.
Alabama QB Jalen Milroe improved dramatically throughout the season and kept his team’s National Championship hopes alive with a miracle fourth-and-31 conversion against Auburn, followed by an upset of Georgia in the SEC Championship.
In the Rose Bowl, however, it wasn’t to be for Milroe and company. The sophomore did not account for a touchdown either through the air or on the ground and he passed for just 116 yards while completing 16 of 23 attempts.
Milroe rushed for 63 yards on 21 keepers. The game ended when the Katy, Texas native was stopped on a QB draw on fourth-and-goal from Michigan’s three-yard line with Alabama needing to score a TD to force a second overtime.
Jase McClellan scored both of Alabama’s touchdowns and ran for 87 yards on 14 carries and kicker Will Reichard tacked on the rest of the Crimson Tide’s points with field goals from 50 and 52 yards.
Monday’s nightcap had big shoes to fill on the heels of a thrilling Rose Bowl and that is exactly what the Sugar Bowl did.
It also came down to the last play, as Washington held off Texas’ furious late-game rally for a 37-31 victory.
The result is a National Championship between Michigan and Washington next Monday in Houston, Texas.
UM is bidding for its first national title since the 1997 season and is playing in the championship game for the first time in the College Football Playoff era.
The Wolverines are trying to cap off a tumultuous 2023 campaign in undefeated fashion after Harbaugh was suspended for the final three games of the regular season due to a sign-stealing scandal.
Washington is looking for its first title since 1991 and is also in the CFP championship game for the first time. The Huskies found a way to win consistently, with eight of their wins being by eight points or less.
Michigan are the -4.5 favorites and the over/under is set at 55.5.