February 24, 2024

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College Football Playoffs: Michigan Wolverines beat Alabama Crimson Tide in overtime in first semifinal

College Football Playoffs: Michigan Wolverines beat Alabama Crimson Tide in overtime in first semifinal



CNN

No. 1 Michigan edged No. 4 Alabama 27-20 in overtime in the College Football Playoff semifinals Monday night to advance to the title game in seven days.

In the second semifinal of the day, the No. 2 Washington Huskies (13-0) were taking on the No. 3 Texas Longhorns (12-1) in the Sugar Bowl at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans in a game that started around 9 p.m. ET.

The game is on ESPN.

In a tough encounter, Michigan and Alabama found themselves tied 20-20 after regulation, forcing the contest known as the “Grandfather of Them All” to go into overtime for only the second time in the game's illustrious history.

After Michigan's Blake Corum scored a touchdown to put his team ahead, the Wolverines' defense stopped Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe on fourth down at the 3-yard line to advance to the national championship game on Jan. 8 in Houston.

Michigan, which became the first college football program ever to reach 1,000 wins earlier this season, will seek its first national championship since 1997, when the Wolverines shared the title with the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The NCAA credits Michigan with nine football championships, while Michigan claims 11.

This is the third straight season the Wolverines have reached the College Football Playoff but Michigan has failed to advance past the semifinals in each of the past two years.

A national title for Michigan would make for a season to remember, one that generated controversy.

To start the year, head coach Jim Harbaugh was suspended for the team's first three games, a self-imposed punishment by Michigan's athletics department for NCAA recruiting violations. The NCAA, which has an open investigation into the matter, would likely choose to add additional penalties in this case.

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The NCAA opened a second investigation into the Wolverines in October for alleged sign-stealing, which led to the suspension and subsequent resignation of Michigan football analyst Connor Stallions, and the firing of running backs coach Chris Partridge.

Harbaugh denied having any knowledge of any scheme to steal other teams' signs, but he accepted a three-game suspension — bringing his total games away from Michigan's sideline to six.

Both NCAA investigations into Michigan are ongoing.

Michigan (14-0) was led Monday as it has all season by quarterback JJ McCarthy, who threw Three touch passes Against Alabama. The potential first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft completed 17 of 27 passes.

Corum also scored the Wolverines' first touchdown and Michigan's defense frustrated Milroe by sacking him five times in the first half and six times total.

The Wolverines still needed a 75-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter to force overtime as Corum handled offensive heroics and the defense got stuck at the end of the game as Melroe had nowhere to go when he ran up the middle of the line.

The Crimson Tide finished the season 12-2.

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01: Jase McClellan #2 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates after scoring a 4th quarter touchdown against the Michigan Wolverines during the CFP Rose Bowl Semifinal game at Rose Bowl Stadium on January 01, 2024 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry Howe/Getty Images)

“We'll be fine”

Like Michigan, the Washington Huskies reached the semifinals with a 13-0 record and much of their success can be attributed to quarterback Michael Penix Jr.

Penix, a Heisman Trophy finalist, has thrown for 4,218 yards and 33 touchdowns. His stock has risen as a result of his good play and he could continue to do so if he stars in a playoff berth.

Penix also sounds confident heading into the Sugar Bowl.

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“I'm not going to lie, their D-line is good. But at the same time, they didn't play our D-line. Brett McMurphy. “They're playing good ball, but I'm not saying we're playing the D-line for the 49ers or the D-line for the Eagles, so we'll be good.”

In addition to Penix, running back Dillon Johnson is key to jumpstarting the Huskies' offense. Johnson rushed for 1,113 yards throughout the regular season and claims to be back to full fitness before the Sugar Bowl.

“It's the first time I've been able to get my feet back, and it was a blessing because the break came at the right time,” Johnson told reporters. espnAfter a month's rest, he suffered from a foot injury.

Penix and Johnson will need to work in tandem to free each other up against the Longhorns' defense.

CORVALLIS, OREGON - NOVEMBER 18: Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. #9 of the Washington Huskies passes the ball against the Oregon State Beavers at Racer Stadium on November 18, 2023 in Corvallis, Oregon.  (Photo by Tom Hawk/Getty Images)

“No one wants it more”

The Texas Longhorns arrive in New Orleans with a strong 12-1 record and will look to beat Washington after losing to the Huskies in the Alamo Bowl last year.

But the Longhorns are hoping that with their offense at its best, they can beat the Huskies this time.

Quarterback Quinn Ewers has had a productive year and has a speedy receiving core, who will look to convert deep shots against Washington's defense.

Defender Jaylan Ford believes his side know exactly what they are doing heading into the semi-finals.

TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 09: Jermaine Burton #3 of the Alabama Crimson Tide avoids a tackle by Jaylan Ford #41 of the Texas Longhorns during the third quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 09, 2023 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

“The mentality of the team is very good now. I think everyone for the most part understands their role and what their job is to the team,” Ford said before the game, according to Sports Illustrated. Fan nation.

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“Everyone knows what we have to do to win, so I think now it's just about making sure we correct the mistakes we've made since we started preparing.

“We understand what we really want to go for and achieve, which is a national championship, and now that we have a chance to compete for one, I think no one wants that more than the guys on this team,” he added.