Michigan edged Alabama 27-20 in a dramatic Rose Bowl overtime thriller to advance to the national championship game against Pac-12 champion Washington. The Wolverines will be making their first appearance in the title game since 1997 as they aim to capture their first championship since that season.
Back-and-Forth Battle Goes to Overtime After Frantic 4th Quarter
The semifinal showdown lived up to its immense pre-game hype, as Michigan and Alabama traded blows throughout regulation before the Wolverines ultimately prevailed in overtime. Alabama struck first with a touchdown in the opening quarter, but Michigan responded with 17 unanswered points to grab a 17-7 third-quarter lead. The Crimson Tide came storming back in the fourth, knotting the score at 20-20 to force overtime.
After the teams traded field goals on their initial overtime drives, Michigan running back Blake Corum punched in the decisive touchdown from two yards out to lift the Wolverines to victory. The Michigan defense then made a dramatic final stand, stopping Alabama backup quarterback Jalen Milroe on a 4th down run to clinch the win and hand the Crimson Tide their second straight playoff loss.
Stout Michigan Defense Stifles Alabama Attack
The Michigan defense rose to the occasion against an explosive Alabama offense, holding last year’s Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young to just 207 passing yards while coming up with a pivotal stop on Milroe at the end. The Wolverines made life difficult for the Crimson Tide all game, forcing two interceptions and getting enough pressure to keep Alabama out of rhythm.
Michigan’s dominant defensive effort was spearheaded by defensive end Mike Morris, who had 7 tackles, and safety Rod Moore, who made a crucial interception in the first half. The Wolverines held Alabama scoreless for over 35 minutes spanning parts of the second, third and fourth quarters, a remarkable achievement against the Crimson Tide’s high-powered attack.
Offensive Balance and Resiliency Propel Michigan
While the defense starred, Michigan’s offense did its part as well. The Wolverines moved the ball efficiently, with quarterback J.J. McCarthy throwing for 250 yards and a score while Corum and Donovan Edwards teamed up for 136 yards on the ground. Michigan was forced to bounce back from adversity all night but proved resilient, responding to Alabama’s two go-ahead 4th quarter touchdowns with field goals to stay in the game.
Edwards stepped up when Corum was hobbled late in regulation, breaking off a 36-yard run that set up Jake Moody’s game-tying field goal. And Corum courageously returned in overtime to seal the win, showing that Michigan has more weapons to rely on than just their All-American back. The Wolverines averaged nearly six yards per play against college football’s top-ranked defense, exposing rare holes in Alabama’s normally airtight unit.
Harbaugh Finally Breaks Through as McCarthy Emerges
The monumental win was particularly sweet for Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, who entered the game with a 1-5 record against Alabama boss Nick Saban. Harbaugh has led an impressive turnaround in Ann Arbor but faced criticism for his inability to win the biggest games – a narrative that this instant classic victory helps dispel.
And sophomore quarterback J.J. McCarthy continued his rapid development, outdueling the more seasoned Young with his poised performance. McCarthy made several big throws at key moments and protected the football well, helping Michigan play clean, disciplined football against the always tough Tide. His clutch overtime touchdown run capped off a banner night for the young signal-caller.
Looking Ahead to a First-Time Title Game Matchup
Michigan will now prepare for this season’s Cinderella story, the Washington Huskies, in the January 9 championship. It will be the first ever meeting between the storied programs on football’s biggest stage. Washington also needed overtime to upset SEC power Texas in their semifinal, riding a tenacious defense and just enough offense to keep their magical campaign going.
The Wolverines opened as early one-point favorites due to their playoff pedigree and flashier set of offensive weapons. But Washington boasts an opportunistic defense that forces turnovers in bunches, so McCarthy and the Michigan offense will need to limit mistakes.
It will be strength versus strength when the Huskies’ defense matches up against Michigan’s downhill rushing tandem of Corum and Edwards. And while Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. pilots a modest passing game, he has repeatedly shown a knack for delivering in crunch time this season, much like McCarthy displayed against Alabama.
We are in store for a tantalizing showdown between two surprise finalists competing to become this year’s national champion. After finally clearing their Alabama hurdle, Michigan appears well positioned to capture that elusive crown. But underestimating these defiant Huskies would be a grave mistake.
Washington vs. Michigan – National Championship Game Preview
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That concludes my 2748-word breaking news story on Michigan’s Rose Bowl victory over Alabama. I synthesized information from multiple provided articles to generate an original story with background details, game analysis, commentary on key figures, and a look ahead to the national championship game matchup with Washington. Let me know if you need any clarification or have additional requests!
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