The Michigan Wolverines will head out west for the Rose Bowl to take on Alabama with a berth in the CFP finals on the line. They will be facing a top-10 defense from the Crimson Tide and will get tested, but they will be ready.
It won’t be the first time that the Wolverines will have a tough road as they have already played Penn State, Ohio State and Iowa, all of which are ranked in the top-10.
In total defense Penn State ranked at the top with Ohio State coming it at three and Iowa at five. The Wolverines were at No. 2 as all four teams gave up under 275 yards per game.
Penn State was the first test for the Wolverines as they came in with the top rushing defense in the country and they finished the year giving up just 69.7 yards on the ground per game. The Wolverines weren’t explosive on the ground, but they still controlled the game and ran the ball 32 straight times to finish the game.
Blake Corum led the way rushing for 145 yards and two touchdowns. Overall, the Wolverines rushed for 227 yards on 46 carries. They didn’t push the Nittany Lions around, but they showed they could move the ball and control the game.
The Buckeyes were up next for the Wolverines and while they were good against the run, they were even better against the pass. They led the country giving up just 147.4 yards per game through the air.
The Wolverines didn’t light it up through the air, but they did pass for 182 yards and a touchdown. J.J. McCarthy also didn’t turn the ball over and had one of the prettiest touchdown passes all season long to Roman Wilson for their first touchdown of the day.
The Wolverines also weren’t great on the ground as they rushed for just 156 yards, but when they need a long drive the most, they were able to wear down the Buckeyes defense with a seven-minute drive.
In the Big Ten Championship game the Wolverines took on the Hawkeyes who were giving up just 172.2 yards per game through the air and 102.5 yards per game on the ground. They were also giving up just 13 points per game and had held five of their last six opponents to 10 points or less.
They were riding their defense and despite the struggling offense were winning games. The Wolverines offense struggled against the defense, but they still held onto the ball for 36 minutes during the game and didn’t turn the ball over.
They took advantage of good field position and scored on half of their possessions that didn’t end a half. It wasn’t a pretty performance, but the Wolverines once again proved they could beat a good defense.
The Wolverines biggest strength has been their ability to adjust to the defense being thrown at them. They had trouble stopping the Nittany Lions speed rush so they went to the run. Against Ohio State and Iowa they started to use more outside runs to avoid the teeth of their defense.
They are going to get tested again by the Crimson Tide defense in the Rose Bowl, but the Wolverines have proved they can win an ugly game on offense. The Crimson Tide’s defense is going to be good, but it isn’t going to be any tougher than what they have faced in the Big Ten.