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The College Football Playoff began Monday with two of the top teams in the nation facing off in a semifinal matchup. In the end, it was No. 1 Michigan who emerged victorious over No. 4 Alabama following a 27-20 Rose Bowl win in overtime.
The Wolverines overcame a tumultuous season that included a sign-stealing investigation and a suspension for head coach Jim Harbaugh. They now have a perfect 14-0 record in search of their first national championship since 1997.
The Crimson Tide, who were back in the CFP after failing to qualify last season, finished 12-2. They rode an 11-game win streak into Monday’s showdown but fell just short of earning head coach Nick Saban’s eighth national title.
Here were the highlights from an instant classic between two of college football’s most storied programs.
Michigan running back Blake Corum needed only two plays to get the Wolverines into the end zone. After an eight-yard rush, he scampered around and through Alabama defenders for a 17-yard score. The PAT put Michigan up 27-20.
Alabama needed a touchdown in response but fell two yards short. The Crimson Tide faced a 4th-and-goal from the three-yard line, but Jalen Milroe got stuffed after a rushing attempt up the middle.
Jase McClellan’s three-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter put Alabama in the lead. After the PAT, the Crimson Tide led 17-13. Jalen Milroe helped set up the score with 37 rushing yards on three carries.
Alabama got the ball back after a punt, but Milroe fumbled the ball away at midfield after a Quinten Johnson hit. Michigan’s Josh Wallace recovered the loose ball.
The Wolverines couldn’t do anything in response, though, after missing a 49-yard field goal. On its next possession, Alabama marched down the field and capped a nine-play, 35-yard scoring drive with Will Reichard’s clutch 52-yard field goal.
Michigan faced a 4th-and-2 from its own 33-yard line with 3:19 remaining, but J.J. McCarthy found Blake Corum for a 27-yard pass and a first down. A holding brought the ball back to midfield.
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Later in the drive, McCarthy connected with Roman Wilson for a 29-yarder to the Alabama five-yard line, setting up 1st-and-goal with 1:45 remaning.
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Two plays later, Wilson caught a four-yard touchdown pass. Michigan tied the game at 20 after the PAT.
The game soon headed to overtime, but not before a near-disaster for the Wolverines.
Alabama punted after a game-winning drive attempt stalled before midfield.
James Burnip let off a booming 51-yarder, and Michigan returner James Thaw muffed it. He jumped on the ball at the 1-yard line right before an oncoming rush of Alabama special teams players.
Michigan then ran the clock out to head to OT.
Jalen Milroe evaded a ferocious Michigan pass rush and a near sack to keep an eventual Alabama touchdown drive alive with a 10-yard run for a first down.
A trick play almost ended in disastrous fashion for Michigan, but J.J. McCarthy made some magic happen with a one-handed catch on a backward pass followed by a nice pass in the face of pressure to pick up a first down:
McCarthy found Tyler Morris a few plays later for his second touchdown pass of the day:
The top-ranked Michigan defense came out on fire to start the game, recording two sacks on Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe. However, a muffed punt gave the Crimson Tide a new opportunity with a short field:
Four plays later, senior running back Jase McClellan promptly gave Alabama an early advantage with a 34-yard touchdown run:
On the ensuing possession, the Wolverines answered right back as quarterback J.J. McCarthy helped lead a 10-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by a touchdown pass to Blake Corum: