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Jim Harbaugh’s Rose Bowl practice schedule receives praise from J.J. McCarthy

Michigan is changing it up a bit this year.

Indiana v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The No. 1 Michigan Wolverines (13-0) are in the midst of their third highly successful season in a row. Michigan has now earned three consecutive College Football Playoff berths, but this season they’ll be looking to do something they haven’t done since 2015 — win a bowl game.

Michigan’s lost in the CFP semifinal the past two seasons — losing 34-11 to Georgia in the 2021 Orange Bowl and falling 51-45 to TCU in the 2022 Fiesta Bowl.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has shaken up Michigan’s bowl game prep a bit this time around before facing the No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1) in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.

“Coach Harbaugh had a little different schedule than previous years,” Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy told the media on Monday. “Boy, for me personally, just feel fresh mentally, physically, and spiritually. It’s been really good so far.

McCarthy reflected on what’s different in their bowl preparation compared to the last two seasons. McCarthy said they’ve been easing into things, and have been in pads a little less.

“It’s been a little bit of a toll off our body.”

Then there’s the mental preparation and the approach therein, which McCarthy feels has changed, for the better.

“The last couple of years I felt like we fell victim to paralysis by over-analysis,” McCarthy said. “Getting over detailed with too many things and overthinking things.”

McCarthy said the biggest difference is going to be “keeping it balanced”, an approach that has been “fresh every single day.”

It’s not just the refined schedule that could help Michigan’s chances of winning the Rose Bowl, it’s the fact they’ve been to the playoffs before and know what to expect.

“I feel like experience is one of the biggest edges you can have as a competitor,” McCarthy said. “Having the roller coaster of a game last year, and then that experience that I had standing on the sidelines for most of it against Georgia and playing against a defense like that. It’s gonna be huge going into this game because we’ve had that experience of an elite defense with elite athletes.”

No matter what the outcome of the Rose Bowl is, it was wise for Jim Harbaugh to tweak Michigan’s schedule throughout December and find new ways to gain an edge.