After shutting out Iowa, 26-0, on Saturday night and claiming their third straight Big Ten championship, Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines officially punched their ticket to a third consecutive College Football Playoff.
There was little doubt the Wolverines would be the No. 1 team in the final four-team field in CFP history — following Georgia’ loss to Alabama — but there were questions surrounding who their opponent would be. With four teams fighting for the final spot, it must have been a heavy debate for the CFP committee.
At the end of the day, the committee crowned the Wolverines the top team in the country, and the final team in this year’s CFP field are the No. 4 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide. The two teams will meet in the Rose Bowl.
The Wolverines overcame massive adversity amidst two three-game suspensions for Harbaugh. The team easily took care of business against the first three non-conference opponents without Harbaugh, but the final three games of the season at Penn State, at Maryland and vs. OSU was a huge challenge. With Sherrone Moore as the interim head coach, they won them all, marched to Indy and easily beat Iowa in Lucas Oil Stadium for the second time in three years to win the Big Ten Championship.
Meanwhile, Alabama went from the No. 8 team in the country all the way to No. 4 after taking down the previously No. 1 ranked Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship. Their only loss of the season was in the non-conference in a Week 2 tilt with the No. 3 Texas Longhorns, who will play the No. 2 Washington Huskies in the Sugar Bowl.
The last time these two programs met was in the 2020 Citrus Bowl, when the Crimson Tide rolled the Wolverines, 35-16. Michigan has not played in the Rose Bowl since 2007, losing to USC by a score of 32-18. The Wolverines have not won a Rose Bowl since 1998, when they defeated Washington State to clinch a share of the national title that year.
Michigan vs. Alabama in the Rose Bowl is set for 5 p.m. on Jan. 1. The game will air on ESPN.