July 14, 2024

Wolverines Outlast Crimson Tide in Overtime Thriller to Advance to CFP National Championship

Wolverines Outlast Crimson Tide in Overtime Thriller to Advance to CFP National Championship

In an epic showdown that lived up to the storied histories of both programs, the Michigan Wolverines (14-0)  edged past the Alabama Crimson Tide (12-2), 27-20, in an overtime nail-biter at the Rose Bowl. This victory punches Michigan’s ticket to the College Football Playoff National Championship, serving as a testament to their resilience and tactical prowess.

The game started with Alabama asserting its dominance on the ground. Running back Jase McClellan broke through the Michigan defense with a 34-yard touchdown rush, culminating in a swift 2-minute and 11-second drive that put the Crimson Tide on the board early in the first quarter.

Michigan, however, was quick to respond. Quarterback J.J. McCarthy led a sustained 10-play drive, meticulously dissecting the Alabama defense to deliver an 8-yard scoring pass to running back Blake Corum. The Wolverines showcased their balanced attack, a mix of grinding runs and precise passes, to even the score at 7-7.

As the second quarter unfolded, McCarthy connected with tight end Trent Morris on a 38-yard touchdown pass. A failed PAT left the Wolverines with a 6-point lead, but the momentum was clearly shifting in their favor. Alabama’s placekicker Will Reichard closed the first half with a 50-yard field goal, showcasing his range and keeping the Crimson Tide within striking distance at 13-10.

The Wolverines’ defense, which had been stout against the pass, was tested by Alabama’s ground game. McClellan punched in a 3-yard rush early in the fourth quarter to regain the lead for Alabama, 17-13. Reichard extended the lead with a 52-yard field goal, leaving Michigan down by 7 points with less than five minutes on the clock.

Facing adversity, McCarthy orchestrated an 8-play drive, capped off by a 4-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Roman Wilson, tying the game at 20-20 with just over a minute and a half remaining in regulation. Both defenses held firm to send the game to overtime.

In the extra period, it was Michigan’s turn to strike first. Corum, who had been a reliable option for McCarthy all game, found a seam and dashed 17 yards for the decisive touchdown. Jake Turner‘s PAT was good, forcing Alabama into a do-or-die situation.

The Wolverines’ defense, which had bent but not broken throughout the contest, sealed the victory. They stifled Alabama’s last efforts, preventing the Crimson Tide from matching Michigan’s overtime score, and celebrated a hard-fought victory that will be remembered as a classic in the annals of Rose Bowl history.

Statistically, Michigan outgained Alabama with 351 total yards to the Crimson Tide’s 288. McCarthy’s performance was pivotal, completing 17 of 27 passes for 221 yards and three touchdowns. On the other side, Alabama’s rushing attack was formidable, but their passing game couldn’t keep pace, with only 116 net passing yards.

The Wolverines showed efficiency and explosiveness, averaging 5.9 yards per play against Alabama’s 4.4, and their ability to convert on third down proved crucial in tight situations. The Michigan defense also made key stops when it mattered most, holding Alabama to zero passing touchdowns and coming up with a game-saving stand in overtime.

Wolverines’ head coach, Jim Harbaugh, would have this to say postgame on the win: “It’s a togetherness. We’re so together, so connected. We were going to overcome anything that was inside this stadium.” 

The Wolverines now await the winner of the Allstate Sugar Bowl between #3 Texas Longhorns and #2 Washington Huskies

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