After a nail-biter of a game in Pasadena on Monday, the Michigan Wolverines are heading to the National Championship. Michigan defeated Alabama in overtime by a final score of 27-20.
There were plenty of players who made it all possible, but here’s who we believe should take home a game ball for their efforts in the Rose Bowl.
Coming into this game, there was some speculation as to whether Michigan would be able to line up and run straight into the teeth of Alabama’s defense. With J.J. McCarthy and the pass game looking out of sync early though, Corum and the rushing attack had to go to work and were able to gobble up chunks of yards to get down the field in the first half.
Corum finished with 19 carries for 83 yards and the game-winning touchdown in overtime. He also added a receiving score. Beyond the statistics, though, we’ve seen Corum be the safety valve for the offense down the stretch. His ability to pick up multiple yards at a time helps keep the offense on schedule, and was badly needed with Monday’s struggles in the pass game.
The biggest story in the first half of this game was Michigan’s swarming pass rush, which got after Jalen Milroe for five sacks in the first two quarters. Pressure on Milroe was something Michigan was going to need to supply to try and win. It proved beneficial, as it prevented Alabama from relying on the drop-back game early on and forcing the Tide to be one-dimensional.
There were plenty of players who contributed to the onslaught, as Braiden McGregor, Derrick Moore, Josaiah Stewart and Kris Jenkins all registered sacks. That type of production really speaks to the depth and versatility of Michigan’s defensive front, and it’s no surprise given how strong this unit has been for Michigan all year.
With the loss of Zak Zinter, and Karsen Barnhart playing out of position at guard, it was naturally alright to worry about Michigan’s offensive line heading into this game. The fact Alabama has a stable of pass rushers led by Dallas Turner could only make matters worse. However, Michigan’s offensive line did an admirable job to help secure the win.
For the most part, the offensive line was able to keep J.J. McCarthy protected (save for a pretty big shot he took on a trick play) by allowing zero sacks. Additionally, the unit helped open up run lanes for Corum to operate, a tough task given Alabama’s size and athleticism up front.
Makari Paige and Rod Moore
The big play has been the key for Alabama in the second half of the season, and Jalen Milroe has been one of the nation’s best deep passers all season. While the defensive front did its work to prevent Milroe from having a big day, safeties Makari Paige and Rod Moore did their part, too, while also making an impact in the run game.
Moore came up big in the second quarter with a pass breakup on Alabama’s Kendrick Law. The play came on a rare occasion where Milroe wasn’t pressured and had time to set up and throw deep, but Moore came in at the last second to disrupt the pass. Paige also did an admirable job in coverage, but contributed mostly in the run game, finishing the game with a total of six tackles.