Michigan rallies back, advances to CFP National Championship with overtime victory over Alabama

Michigan started and ended the regular season without the services of their head coach.

On Monday, Jim Harbaugh was on the sidelines as the Wolverines defeated Alabama 27-20 for the right to play for the national title on January 8th. 

Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines celebrates with The Leishman Trophy after beating the Alabama Crimson Tide 27-20 in overtime to win the CFP Semifinal Rose Bowl Game at Rose Bowl Stadium on January 01, 2024 in Pasadena, California.  (Harry How/Getty Images)

A thrilling overtime game saw Michigan quickly score on the opening possession of OT with a 17-yard run by senior Blake Corum. With the game on the line, the Wolverines’ defense took care of the rest. 

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The opening minutes for Michigan brought back memories of last year’s CFP loss to TCU, where turnovers turned out to be the difference.

A near interception by Alabama defensive back Caleb Downs and a muffed punt return recovered by the Crimson Tide, which eventually resulted in a 34-yard scoring run by running back Jase McClellan – had Michigan looking like it was reliving last year’s nightmare. 

But it was Harbaugh’s defense, which entered the contest allowing the fewest points per game, which shifted the momentum back in Michigan’s favor. 

Mike Sainristil and Derrick Moore celebrate a sack

Mike Sainristil #0 and Derrick Moore #8 of the Michigan Wolverines celebrate in the second quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the CFP Semifinal Rose Bowl Game at Rose Bowl Stadium on January 01, 2024 in Pasadena, California.  (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Corum evened the score on a 75-yard drive while the defense took care of quarterback Jalen Milroe, sacking him five times in the first half, and Tyler Morris put Michigan ahead with his dance along the sidelines for a 38-yard touchdown catch. 

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But Alabama took back control in the second half, tightening up against Michigan’s frustrating pass rush. McClellan would get his second touchdown of the night on a three-yard run to give the Crimson Tide their second lead of the night. 

Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy responded, orchestrating an eight-play, 77-yard drive with just under two minutes remaining to even the score with a four-yard pass to Roman Wilson and force overtime. 

Corum staked his claim in the Michigan history books with his 56th career touchdown, and Alabama just couldn’t respond. On the Michigan 3, Milroe was stopped for no gain on a sneak up the middle on fourth down.

Blake Corum scores game-winner

Michigan Wolverines running back Blake Corum (2) scores on a 17-yard run to go-ahead during overtime of the College Football Playoff semifinals hosted by the Rose Bowl game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Rose Bowl in Pasadena Monday, Jan. 1, 2024.  (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

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The Wolverines extended their win streak to 13 this season and, while being perfect on the field, Michigan has had its fair share of controversy off the field. 

The Wolverines began their undefeated season without head coach Jim Harbaugh after he served out a school-imposed three-game suspension over NCAA recruiting violations. Then, when Michigan was entering its most challenging phase of the season, Harbaugh was again sidelined an additional three games amid an investigation into a sign-stealing operation that involved former low-level staffer, Connor Stalions. 

Despite the media frenzy surrounding the program, Michigan didn’t miss a beat. 

Michigan takes the field before the Rose Bowl

The Michigan Wolverines take the field before the CFP Semifinal Rose Bowl Game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Rose Bowl Stadium on January 01, 2024 in Pasadena, California.  (Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images)

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Michigan continued to an 11-0 finish and won its third straight conference championship with a 26-0 rout of Iowa. Now the Wolverines will now chase the school’s first national title since 1997. 

Michigan will next face the winner of Texas vs. Washington in the CFP National Championship on January 8.

Fox News’ Joe Morgan contributed to this report. 

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