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#1 Michigan takes down #4 Alabama to clinch their first National Title Appearance since 1997

It was a battle between some of the top teams in College Football, the #4 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide against the #1 ranked Michigan Wolverines with the winner laying bragging rights to the Rose Bowl and the chance to play in the Championship Game.

Alabama is full of talent having led all teams this year with six All-American selections, from cornerbacks Kool-Aid McKinstry and Terrion Arnold and linebacker Dallas Turner were all named to the first-team, offensive tackle JC Latham being named second-team, along with safety Caleb Downs, with kicker Will Reichard being named third-team.

The Crimson Tide also has a promising young quarterback at the helm in sophomore Jalen Milroe who’s coming off a solid season throwing for 2,718 yards (35th), 23 touchdowns (26th), and 6 interceptions (T-17th) with an 83.4 QBR rating (9th).

Milroe is also adept at rushing with the football, rushing for 468 yards for 12 touchdowns on 140 rush attempts.

Conversely, we have the best team in college football, the Wolverines. The Wolverines also have their fair share of talent from sophomore defensive back Will Johnson, senior offensive lineman Zak Zinter (out with a broken leg),  running back Blake Corum, and fifth-year senior Mike Sainristil among others.

They boasted the best defense this season with the fewest yards per game allowed in the FBS (239.7), touchdowns allowed (14), and fourth in yards allowed per play (4.28) according to the NCAA.

They are also led by one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, J.J. McCarthy, who’s considered one of the top quarterback prospects in the upcoming 2024 NFL Draft and who’s had a stellar season.

McCarthy, 20, is 25-1 as a starter in his collegiate career, with his only loss coming against TCU on New Year's Eve of 2022

McCarthy threw for 2,630 yards (41st), 19 touchdowns (29th), four interceptions (T-6th), and a QBR rating of 89.3 (3rd).

The game started disoriented with the Wolverines and McCarthy throwing an interception on the opening drive of the game but it was fortunately overturned due to Alabama defensive back Caleb Downs being out of bounce.

Then a few minutes later the Wolverines dropped a punt early on that helped set up Alabama with an easier chance to score.

The name of the game in the first half was the relentless pressure Michigan’s pass rush put on Milroe and Alabama’s offensive line all night long by holding them to one touchdown in the first half off a Jase McClellan drive to give them a 7-0 lead.

They sacked Milroe four times in the first half alone and on the offensive end were exploiting Alabama’s man coverage.

The play of the game has to be McCarthy’s Superman-type throw falling backward turning his body with defensive pressure coming toward him to Romeo Wilson in a big gain in what seemed like a broken play.

Two possessions later, after a heroic play, McCarthy continued to display why he’s celebrated as a legit NFL prospect this coming April by finding Tyler Morris for a 38-yard reception to put the Wolverines up 13-7.

The first half ended with the Wolverines up 13-10 on Alabama in what was a low scoring first half. Alabama made adjustments in the second half doing a much better job pressuring McCarthy and the Wolverines offense that seemed to get anything they wanted offensively in the first half.

While the third quarter saw a scoring drought from both teams, the fourth is when the intensity started to pick up.

It started with Milroe on the opening drive for Alabama in the fourth with a strong rush deep into the Wolverines' red zone to give the Tide needed momentum offensively that they lacked throughout the first half.

Milroe’s help set up McCllellan for his second touchdown drive to end Alabama’s drought to help give them a 17-13 lead early in the fourth.

The first half of the fourth seemed to be all things Alabama with Michigan’s offense seeming to fizzle and go cold to start the fourth.

Milroe would have a huge turnover on Alabama’s next offensive drive at midfield to give the Wolverines a chance to try to capitalize and get their offense back clicking but were unsuccessful in their attempt.

Michigan had some pivotal plays down the stretch being down 20-13 from the Romeo Wilson four-yard touchdown that tied the game 20-20, to the pass rush coming up big once again and sacking Milroe at a crucial point in the game in overtime with Alabama in the Wolverines red zone area to have a chance to tie the game in overtime.

Michigan running back Blake Corum also showed why he’s one of the best rushers in college football by scoring on Michigan’s final offensive drive in overtime with a beautiful  17-yard drive that would make any coach happy.

Alabama would have one final chance to try to keep their chances alive to win the Rose Bowl and punch their ticket to the National Championship Game in Houston but the defense of the Wolverines was able to pressure them like they have done so well most of the night.

Alabama ran a questionable last play call for Milroe to run the ball, as he just needed three yards to score a touchdown. However, the offensive line of Alabama wasn’t able to block well enough which resulted in Michigan clinching its first berth in the National Championship since 1997.

Corum, Wilson, and  Tyler Morris came up big in the receiving department for Michigan combining for 153 yards and three touchdowns with Corum also having that crucial rushing touchdown in overtime to give Michigan the 27-20 lead.

McCarthy also was impressive as well with 221 passing yards on 17-of-21 completions for three touchdowns and no interceptions with some even calling him the best quarterback in Michigan history... Yes over Tom Brady.

Jim Harbaugh makes his first national title appearance as Michigan’s head coach in his ninth season with the program.

This also marks three straight seasons of Alabama not making the title game for the first time in the Nick Saban era. after winning six in the span of 11 seasons from 2009-2020.

The national title game is set for the two best teams in the country all season in  #1 Michigan against the Sugar Bowl champions in the  #2 Washington Huskies against Heisman runner-up Michael Penix Jr. set for Monday, Jan. 8 at 7:30 Eastern Time.


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