Late in the fourth quarter with their backs up against the wall, the Michigan Wolverines called upon running back Blake Corum to save them from what could have become all-too-familiar territory on New Year’s Day.
Corum rushed for a 17-yard touchdown in overtime, and the top-seeded Wolverines advanced to their first National Championship over fourth-seeded Alabama in the Rose Bowl. Corum, who tallied an early touchdown pass and rushed for 83 yards in the game, needed only two snaps to score during the first possession of the game’s only overtime, breaking tackles and spinning wildly into the end zone.
The Wolverines looked to Corum early and often in the fist half of that game, allowing one of their team captains to touch the ball on 10 possessions, but looked to be straying away from the run game in the third quarter after electing to rush Corum a total of two times during the team’s first two possessions of the second half.
It wasn’t until Sherrone Moore returned to feeding his veteran back on six fourth-quarter possessions that the offense started to find its footing once again. Moore’s decision would be rewarded by an electric 25 yards rushing (courtesy of Corum) and the game-winning touchdown in overtime.
It was a moment that wiped away all the stress and anxiety from the later minutes of the third quarter where the Wolverines had once trailed, but there were some onlookers that begged a question during that time:
“Where is Blake Corum?”
Yes, this strategy paid off for the Wolverines against Alabama, but several incompletions, coupled with an Alex Orji sack, left many throwing their hands up in bewildered frustration. It’s somewhat apparent that Moore’s offensive strategy involved several looks the Tide hadn’t seen before, but I’m not totally convinced the game plan needs to be so exotic when Michigan takes the field against Washington on Monday.
Instead, Michigan should look to the ground game against a Huskies’ team that surrendered a Power 5-leading 4.4 yards per carry this season. Additionally, Washington has also allowed opposing rush attacks to reach the end zone 21 times in 2023, good for sixth-most in all of FBS. With Corum holding college football’s top spot as leading rushing touchdown scorer with 25, there’s no need to overthink it — run the damn ball.
Many have also referenced the Wolverines’ 2021 win over the Huskies in which Corum ran for 171 yards and three touchdowns. Hassan Haskins and the rest of the Michigan offense added an extra 172 rushing yards for a team total of 343 in that game. Very different teams in a very different situations, but the familiarity is still there for an even greater version of Corum.
The game that began this program’s renaissance.— Colston Connoisseur (@UMvsEveryone) January 4, 2024
This game truly feels full circle pic.twitter.com/InaZuEaZ4l
The Wolverines will need to give Corum a breather once in a while. They’ll have that depth in both Donovan Edwards and Kalel Mullings. Edwards, who played sparingly against Alabama, excelled in big games in 2022 and could easily find his footing once again against a weaker Washington run defense. Don’t be surprised if Edwards or Mullings have their best games of the season in short relief of Corum on Monday night.