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Michigan stops Alabama in overtime at Rose Bowl to reach CFP title game

PASADENA, Calif. — Top-seeded Michigan outscored No. 4 Alabama in a 27-20 overtime victory at the Rose Bowl on Monday that gave the Wolverines their first-ever appearance in the game of the College Football Playoff national championship.

For most of the past 15 years, Nick Saban’s Alabama teams represented not only the model of college football, but also the most physically dominant entity in the sport. But in a season where the Tide were forced to constantly survive rather than impose their will, Michigan proved to be their end game.

After a back-and-forth game that saw both teams lose and regain the lead during regulation, the 20-20 game turned into the second overtime game in Rose Bowl history.

Blake Corum, who led Michigan, made quick work of overtime running 8 yards on the first play, then followed it up with a 17-yard sprint for a touchdown to give the Wolverines a 27-20 lead and put Corum a school record. – tying the 26th touchdown of the season.

All Michigan needed then was a stop and – as they had done for most of the game – the Wolverines’ front sealed the result by invading the Tide backfield and shutting down quarterback Jalen Milroe before the goal line on fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line.

The go-ahead stop sent Michigan’s Rose Bowl crowd into pandemonium and the team below rushed the field.

The stop was emblematic of Michigan’s physical dominance throughout the game, which showed during the first half. The Wolverines’ defensive line turned the Alabama backfield into a playground, limiting the Tide’s running game to 43 yards in the first half (116 passing yards in the entire game), stifling their offensive line and sacking Milroe five times.

But after Milroe and Alabama’s offense woke up and took a 20-13 lead in the second half, the Wolverines’ offense stepped up. With 1:38 left, quarterback JJ McCarthy found receiver Roman Wilson in the end zone to tie the game after a 75-yard drive in eight plays.

Michigan overcame a 7-point 4th quarter deficit to win, tied for its largest 4th quarter comeback victory under Jim Harbaugh (since 2015).

In what was a comeback game that included 13 punts, eight fumbles (only two of them lost), a missed extra point and numerous special teams miscues, every point, every snap and every error been amplified. And in the end, it was Jim Harbaugh’s team — after two straight losing seasons in the CFP semifinals — that did enough to keep its undefeated season alive and give itself a chance at the first title of the program since the 1997 season.

Gérard Truchon

An experienced journalist in internal and global political affairs, she tackles political issues from all sides
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