No. 1 Michigan rallies to beat No. 4 Alabama in OT Rose Bowl thriller
League: NCAA Football
Posted on: 02 Jan, 2024 at 06:20 AM
Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Blake Corum has been a touchdown machine all season, and he picked the perfect time to tack on another score.
Corum ran for the winning 17-yard touchdown in overtime and top-seeded Michigan advanced to the College Football Playoff national championship game with a 27-20 overtime victory over fourth-seeded Alabama on Monday in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
Corum rushed for 83 yards and also caught a touchdown pass as Michigan (14-0) won a CFP contest for the first time. Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy had the perfect spectator view of the biggest touchdown in recent school history.
"I was just surprised he wasn't going down," McCarthy said of Corum's scoring run. "But at the same time, I'm like ‘that's Blake,' so it made sense. ... Everything about Blake is superstar."
McCarthy completed 17 of 27 passes for 221 yards and three touchdowns for the Wolverines, who had lost their previous six bowl games. His touchdown toss down to Roman Wilson with 1:34 left in regulation forced overtime.
Michigan will face second-seeded Washington in the national championship game on Jan. 8 in Houston. The Huskies beat the Longhorns 37-31 later Monday night in the Sugar Bowl.
The Crimson Tide (12-2) had an opportunity to force a second overtime, but Jalen Milroe was stopped for a gain of 1 yard on a fourth-down keeper from the 3-yard line, prompting Michigan to go wild celebrating its victory.
"You win some, you lose some," Milroe said. "We just failed on that play, that's all it was. ... Unfortunately, we missed and didn't get it in the end zone."
Both teams called timeouts during the sequence, making the quarterback keeper the third play in the pecking order. Alabama coach Nick Saban said the play was designed to be used as a two-point conversion run.
"The fact that it didn't work made it a very bad call," Saban said of the decision ultimately made by offensive coordinator Tommy Rees. "We didn't get it blocked, so it didn't work. We didn't execute it very well."
Jase McClellan rushed for 87 yards and two touchdowns for Alabama. Milroe was 16-of-23 passing for 116 yards and added 63 yards on the ground.
Meanwhile, Corum extended his single-season school mark to 25 rushing scores with the decisive touchdown. He has 26 overall after Monday's receiving touchdown.
Corum handled the ball on both of Michigan's overtime plays. He ran for 8 yards on the first carry, before bursting through on the go-ahead 17-yard run.
Corum was just fine with passing on credit.
"It was a team effort," Corum said. "We hit some adversity today, a little sloppy, but we came together as one."
Michigan plays one more time in search of its first national title since 1997.
Alabama has gone three consecutive seasons without a national championship, the first time it has happened in coach Nick Saban's 17-year tenure. The Crimson Tide have won six titles under Saban.
"Obviously, we are very disappointed about the outcome of the game," 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."
Alabama took a 17-13 lead on the second play of the fourth quarter when McClellan scored from the 3.
The Crimson Tide later worked the clock for 5:49 and took a 20-13 lead when Will Reichard kicked a 52-yard field goal with 4:41 left in regulation.
The Wolverines converted on fourth-and-2 from their own 33 on the tying eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. McCarthy capped it with a 4-yard scoring pass to Wilson to set up the third overtime game of the CFP era.
"When we scored and forced overtime, I knew it was over," Corum said.
Tyler Morris also caught a touchdown pass for Michigan. Braiden McGregor had two sacks for the Wolverines, who outgained the Crimson Tide 351-288.
Michigan outgained Alabama 197-96 in the first half en route to a 13-10 lead at the break.
The Crimson Tide struck first after their touchdown was set up on a fumbled punt return by the Wolverines' Semaj Morgan. Quandarrius Robinson recovered at the Michigan 44-yard line. Four plays later, McClellan broke loose for a 34-yard scoring run with 9:41 left in the first quarter.
Michigan tied the score five-plus minutes later when McCarthy tossed an 8-yard touchdown pass to Corum.
The Wolverines took a 13-7 lead in the second quarter when McCarthy hit Morris on a 38-yard scoring play. However, William Wagner's errant snap got past holder Tommy Doman to leave Michigan up by six with 3:49 left in the half.
Reichard booted a 50-yard field goal with seven seconds left in the half to bring Alabama within three.
--Field Level Media