After a hard fought game on Monday night, Michigan has secured its first national championship since 1997. The Wolverines won it by a final score of 34-13 and there were a myriad of contributors in the game.
Here’s who stood out the most in the game and deserves to take home a game ball for their efforts.
For the most part during the 2023 season, Donovan Edwards had been pretty quiet. The junior had left something to be desired and hadn’t successfully followed up on his 991-yard campaign last year, but he sure showed up to silence the doubters. He would finish this game with an impressive 104 yards and two touchdowns. Those two touchdowns were instrumental in Michigan’s fast start to set the tone.
On the flip side, his running mate Blake Corum had a great outing too in his final college game. Corum would finish the contest with 133 yards and two touchdowns. Both touchdowns came in the fourth quarter to effectively ice the game. In back to back games, Corum has put up huge performances, helping secure Michigan’s championship crown.
Michigan’s running backs feasted in this game, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the work of its stout offensive line. The unit absolutely buldozed the Husky front, especially in the first half to a tune of 303 total yards on the ground, including 174 in the first quarter. Additionally, J.J. McCarthy was kept mostly clean, only being sacked one time.
When Zak Zinter went down, there were some concerns about how Michigan’s offensive line would perform down the stretch. But with Karsen Barnhart and Trente Jones filling in, the unit was unscathed and helped Michigan secure its final few victories of the year. From the jump in this game, it was clear Michigan had the advantage up front, and imposed its will all night long.
Mason Graham and Kenneth Grant
The defensive front was the story in the Rose Bowl victory over Alabama, and it came to play once again in the National Championship. Kenneth Grant and Mason Graham were both instrumental in the defense’s ability to stifle the Huskies, preventing Michael Penix from getting comfortable and living in the backfield.
Grant would finish with two tackles and a sack, while Graham had three tackles of his own. Graham also supplied some good pressure on Penix on Washington’s first play of the second half, allowing Will Johnson to come up with an interception.
Just a week ago, we saw Penix put up one of his best performances of the year, carving up Texas to the tune of 430 yards and two touchdowns. On Monday, though, Michigan’s defensive backs put on a clinic. While Penix still put up a respectable 255 yards through the air, it’s a far cry from what we’ve seen this year.
Will Johnson did an excellent job against Rome Odunze and recorded an interception to start the second half. Meanwhile, Mike Sainristil recorded an interception of his own late in the fourth quarter and made several big tackles on Washington’s receivers to help prevent big plays. When the defensive back unit needed to be its sharpest, it absolutely delivered.