Michigan rolled the Tide in Rose Bowl

PASADENA, Calif. – The Rose Bowl Game presented by Prudential played out the way that many thought that it would. Before the game, there was a lot of controversy about Alabama leapfrogging several teams to get into the College Football Playoff semifinal as the No. 4 team to face off against No. 1 Michigan.

All that didn’t matter. The Crimson Tide is college football royalty. And since Nick Saban has been the head coach of Alabama, the Crimson Tide has been the team to beat in college football. With this College Football Playoff semifinal played out at the historic Rose Bowl Stadium, Alabama and Michigan didn’t disappoint college football fans. 

Michigan quarterback JJ McCarthy (9) completed three touchdown passes in a 27-20 overtime win against No. 4. Alabama in the 2024 Rose Bowl Game as part of the College Football Playoff semifinals on Jan. 1, 2024. Photo credit: Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

This contest was a physical, see-saw battle that was not determined until an extra session was needed to decide the ballgame. At the end of regulation, Alabama and Michigan found themselves fit to be tied. This game had the markings of a heavyweight boxing match. Punch. Counterpunch. 

Finally, Alabama dropped their gloves long enough for the Wolverines to sneak in an uppercut by way of running back Blake Corum on a 17-yard touchdown run. Jim Harbaugh’s team then delivered the knockout blow when Michigan stuffed Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe at the 3-yard line on a fourth-and-goal play in overtime. Game. Set. Match. 

“Happy new year. Great way to start the new year off,” Harbaugh said after the game. “Glorious. That was glorious. It was a tremendous football game. Congratulate Alabama on a terrific game and their great players and coaching staff and their fans. It was an epic game. Glorious is how I feel. That was a tremendous win.”

One team had to win. One team had to fall on the sword and lose. This time it was Saban’s Alabama team. From the start, Michigan played like the superior team. Yes, the Wolverines did give up the game’s opening salvo- a 34-yard touchdown to Alabama running back Jase McClellan in the first quarter. 

But after that the Wolverines got more physical against the Crimson Tide in the first half, getting to Milroe multiple times for sacks. In total, Milroe hit the deck five times in the first half. For the game, Michigan’s defense recorded six sacks of Milroe, who never really seemed to develop any type of passing rhythm in the game. 

“Well, obviously we’re very disappointed about the outcome of the game,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “I don’t think we played great in the first half, but I was really, really proud of the way our players played in the second half. We just didn’t finish the last four minutes of the game like we would like to, and we’re all very disappointed, and the players are disappointed, as well.”

Milroe completed 16 of 23 passes for 116 yards.  With Michigan’s offense struggling at times during the game, the defensive play of the Wolverines saved the day for Harbaugh’s team. 

“I would just say credit to a great defense,” Michigan quarterback JJ McCarthy said. “They played tremendous. They had a great game plan for us. It’s just all about focusing on the next play, one play at a time, and just staying in the present moment and worrying about the assignment that you have to go out and execute.”

The key to the game for both teams was physicality. It’s that simple. Michigan just had more of it. Alabama got beat up by Michigan in the first half. The Crimson Tide got their mojo back in the second half and re-established their authority until the Wolverines were able to tie the game on their last drive and in overtime. 

Alabama running back Justice Haynes (22) sees his path for yards rushing stopped against Michigan in a College Football Playoff semifinal played in the 2024 Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1, 2024. Photo credit: Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

In regards to the team’s inability to protect Milroe from Michigan’s defensive pressure, especially in the first half, Saban said there were things Alabama could have done better.  

“There was a couple times where we could have redirected the protection, which we kind of put on the O-line to a large degree, and we didn’t do it,” Saban said. “A couple times the shot clock was running down and we didn’t get a chance to do it, and a couple times we didn’t fan and miss-executed up front in terms of getting the right guys blocked when we were in the right protection.” 

Corum said Michigan was able to advance to the national championship game thanks to teamwork. 

“It was a team effort, team effort,” Corum declared.  “We’re going to deal with adversity here. We had some adversity today, a little sloppy, but we came together as one. I’m my brothers’ keeper, and I know my brothers had my back, and I told them, if we score this thing and go to overtime, we’re going to win, and we came out on top.”

Lead photo caption: Michigan running back Blake Corum (2) scores on a pass from quarterback JJ McCarthy against Alabama in the 2024 Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1, 2024, Photo credit: Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

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