Here are some of the highlights from Monday’s semifinals.
Michigan rallies to down Alabama
In a hard-fought affair, Michigan and Alabama found themselves tied at 20-20 after regulation, forcing the contest known as “the Granddaddy of Them All” into overtime for just the second time in the game’s illustrious history.
After Michigan running back Blake Corum scored a touchdown to put his team in front, the Wolverines defense stopped Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe on fourth down at the 3-yard line to advance to the national championship game on January 8 in Houston.
Michigan, which became the first college football program to reach 1,000 all-time 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 season in a row that the Wolverines have made the College Football Playoff but Michigan failed to make it past the semifinal stage in each of the last two years.
A national title for Michigan would cap a memorable season, one that has seen controversy.
To start the year, head coach Jim Harbaugh was suspended for the team’s first three games, a self-imposed sanction by Michigan’s athletics department because of NCAA recruiting violations. The NCAA, which has an open investigation into the matter, could potentially choose to add additional penalties in that case.
The NCAA opened a second investigation into the Wolverines in October for alleged sign-stealing, leading to the suspension and subsequent resignation of Michigan football analyst Connor Stalions, and linebackers coach Chris Partidge was fired.
Harbaugh has denied he had any knowledge of any scheme to steal other teams’ signs, but accepted a three-game suspension – upping 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 throughout the season by quarterback J.J McCarthy, who threw three touchdown 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.
Still the Wolverines needed a 75-yard touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter to force overtime where Corum handled the offensive heroics and the defense made the game-ending stop as Milroe found nowhere to go as he ran into the middle of the line.
The Crimson Tide ended the season 12-2.
Washington downs Texas
Washington never trailed in the first half, taking the lead on three separate occasions. But Texas had an answer for every score, and both teams entered halftime tied at 21-21.
Led by the nation’s leading passer quarterback Michael Penix Jr., the Huskies scored 13 unanswered points in the second half and held off a late Longhorns rally to seal the nail-biting victory at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Down by six points with under one minute left in the fourth quarter, Longhorns quarterback Quinn Ewers drove the offense into the redzone, but his fourth-and-11 pass attempt fell incomplete on the game’s final play.
The Heisman Trophy finalist Penix Jr. completed 29 of his 38 pass attempts and finished with 430 passing yards and two touchdown passes in the game. His 430 passing yards are the second-most ever in a College Football Playoff semifinal, behind Joe Burrow’s 493 yards in 2019.
Like Michigan, the Washington Huskies came into the semifinals with a 13-0 record and a lot of their success can be attributed to Penix Jr.
Penix was confident heading into the Sugar Bowl ahead of the team’s victory.
“I’m not going to lie, their D-line is good. But at the same time, they haven’t played our o-line,” Penix told reporters ahead of his matchup against the Longhorns, per Brett McMurphy. “They play good ball, but I wouldn’t say we’re playing the 49ers’ D-line or the Eagles’ D-line, so we’ll be good.”
The Huskies will next play against the Michigan Wolverines in the College Football Playoff National Championship game on January 8 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.
Washington, which is set to leave the Pac-12 Conference after the season, will compete for the program’s first national championship title since 1991, when the Huskies shared the title with the Miami Hurricanes. The NCAA credits Washington with one national football championship, while the Huskies claim two.
CNN’s Wayne Sterling and David Close contributed to reporting.
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