By: Jack Nevins
The stage was set on New Year’s day, as number 4 seeded Alabama and number 1 seeded Michigan faced off in the first game of the College Football Playoff in the Rose Bowl. In the late window, and the second game of the evening at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, hosting the number 3 Texas Longhorns, and the number 2 Washington Huskies. The 2024 CFP was one of the most controversial when deciding who got in. Florida State, who was ranked in the top 4 all season, did not see their name in the CFP. The Georgia Bulldogs, a household name in the CFP, and the back-back national champions, were not featured because of their loss to the Tide; the Alabama Crimson Tide vs. the Michigan Wolverines. Two powerhouses in their respective conferences, and the two most winningest programs in college football.
Alabama snuck into the CFP because of their SEC championship win over Georgia, and a win down the stretch over Auburn in the Iron Bowl on a touchdown pass from Jalen Milroe to Isaiah Bond. Michigan was the clear number 1 seed heading into the CFP, with standout wins over Ohio State and Penn State. Many argued Michigan did not deserve this position because of weak wins and a weak schedule. The Wolverines were without their head coach, Jim Harbaugh, because of the alleged sign stealing scandal and still managed to take down number 10 Penn State. Harbaugh was also absent for their meeting with Ohio State, making the story of Michigan advancing to the CFP even sweeter.
A 27-20 victory in overtime for the Michigan Wolverines. The Tide won the coin toss and deferred, getting the ball starting in the second half. This would help them gain momentum after going back to the drawing board in the locker room. Bama struck first off of Jase McClellan’s 34 yard touchdown run. Blake Corum then matched McClellan’s run with an 8 yard reception touchdown, evening the score to end the first quarter. Late in the second quarter, Michigan’s Tyler Morris caught a 38 yard touchdown pass from JJ McCarthy to jump out to a 13-7 lead. Then, with time winding down, the Tide sailed a kick through the uprights just before half, cutting the Michigan lead to 3, 13-10, with Bama getting the ball to start the second half. Straight out of the gate in the third quarter, McClellan rushed for another touchdown, taking back the lead, 17-13. Will Reichard then extended the Alabama lead to 7 off of a field goal, making the score 20-13. The saying, what goes up, must always come down, was in full effect Monday evening. The Wolverines tied the game up off a Roman Wilson walk-in touchdown to tie the game, 20-20. As time expired in the fourth quarter, Michigan ran the clock out, forcing overtime. Alabama, once again, won the coin toss, electing to obtain the ball second. Michigan took advantage of their field position, and quickly used Blake Corum to punch in 6 for his second touchdown. The Tide needed 7 to go to double overtime, and off an 11 yard pass to Jermaine Burton, Jalen Milroe and Bama looked promising. Just needing 3 yards, the smart play-call would have been an end-around of the running back. Instead, Milroe decided to keep and run a draw, but got tripped by his own lineman, causing him to get tackled, allowing for the Michigan Wolverines to win the Rose Bowl and advance to the national championship in Houston.