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Jim Harbaugh, Nick Saban explain final play of Michigan’s Rose Bowl win

Michigan’s defense came up clutch when it mattered most and punched their ticket to the national championship.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Rose Bowl went down to the wire, then it went beyond it as regulation time concluded with the score at 20-20.

In overtime, the Wolverines drew first blood with a 17-yard Blake Corum rushing touchdown to put Michigan up 27-20. It was then up to Alabama’s offense to answer with a touchdown to extend the game to a second overtime. However, Michigan had other plans.

On 4th and Goal from the three-yard line Alabama went with an RPO look from quarterback Jalen Milroe. Milroe opted to run with the ball and was stuffed by Michigan’s Derrick Moore well short of the goal line.

It was a devastating conclusion for Alabama and a majestic win for Michigan.

After the game, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, Michigan linebacker Junior Colson, Alabama head coach Nick Saban, and Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe gave their thoughts on the final play from a schematic standpoint.

Jim Harbaugh

“We just had everybody in there. It was everybody. We call it twister, and everybody there, everybody to the ball. Similar to Alabama, every time you get inside the 5-yard line, they’re in zero every down. Our favorite play, it’ll be JJ’s favorite play, got us in the end zone there when we really needed it. We were just all out, selling out, and playing for that.”

Nick Saban

“We called three plays. One they called time-out, one we called time-out, and the last one that didn’t work. The fact that it didn’t work made it a really bad call. You know what I mean?But we called time-out because we had a bad look. We had a good look on the first one. They must have known it. But (offensive coordinator) Tommy (Reese) just felt like the best thing that we could do was have a quarterback run, which was kind of our two-point play, one of our two-point plays for this game. The ball was on the 3-yard line, which is just like a two-point play, but we didn’t get it blocked so it didn’t work. We didn’t execute it very well and it didn’t work. They pressured and we thought they would pressure, but we thought we could gap them and block them and make it work, and it didn’t.”

Junior Colson

“We were playing cover zero. Coach was telling us all the time that this is the moment we were built for. This is the moment we come out here to play for. We knew exactly what was going to happen. When the moment gets tough, you go to your best player, and they went to their best player, and we were right there to stop it. We said it’s 4th down, one last play, everybody strained, everybody strained to the ball.”

Jalen Milroe

“I’m appreciative of my coaching staff for believing in me to have the ball in my hands on that last play. You win some, you lose some. That’s all part of the game. With anything, all it came down to was fall back to your level of training, and we just failed on that play. That’s all it was. At the end of the day I just trusted the guys up front for believing in me on the last play to have the ball, and unfortunately, we just missed and we just didn’t get in the end zone.”