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Handing out position grades for Michigan’s national championship victory

The Wolverines are 15-0 and national champions.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Washington at Michigan Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan Wolverines are national champions. Hold on, let’s adjust tones…THE MICHIGAN WOLVERINES ARE NATIONAL CHAMPIONS. For the first time since 1997 — and the first out-right title since 1948 — Team 144 from Ann Arbor sits atop the college football world.

A styles clash for the ages pitted Michigan’s top-ranked defense against Washington’s vaunted passing attack. Michigan skipped the feeling-out process in this heavyweight clash and opened up with the first haymaker on a Donovan Edwards 41-yard touchdown. Michigan doubled down with another Edwards run on the next possession and would end the first quarter up 17-3.

Unbeknownst to Team 144, 17 was enough to win the game. When the dust settled, the Wolverines were victors valiant in the College Football Playoff National Championship, 34-13, and became the first Big Ten team to ever finish a season 15-0.

Let’s hand out some position grades for the 2023 national champions. Hold on, one more time…FOR THE 2023 NATIONAL CHAMPIONS! Let’s get to it.

Quarterbacks: B

Quarterback J.J. McCarthy improved to 27-1 as a starter after finishing 10-of-18 for 140 yards against Washington. McCarthy also added 31 yards on the ground and made just enough plays for Michigan to emerge victorious. It was far from McCarthy’s best game, but just like he did against Alabama, when it mattered most, McCarthy rose to the occasion and made a play.

The Michigan Wolverines are national champions.

Running backs: A+

Donovan Edwards set the tone early and Blake Corum — as he did against Penn State, Ohio State and Alabama — closed the show. Edwards (the first player with two 40-yard plus touchdown runs in a CFP game) finished with 104 yards and two touchdowns on six carries, and Corum added 134 yards and two touchdowns of his own. Michigan as a whole rushed for a BCS/CFP record 303 yards.

The Michigan Wolverines are national champions.

Wide receivers: C+

It was far from a banner day for the wide receivers, but the unit contributed in all facets to get the win. Roman Wilson led the way with 54 yards on three grabs, including a clutch reception on the fourth-quarter possession that put the Wolverines up 14. It won’t make stat sheets, but this unit was willing and outstanding in run-blocking all evening.

The Michigan Wolverines are national champions.

Tight ends: A+

Colston Loveland’s 41-yard reception was one of the most important in the history of Michigan football. This unit was dominating in the run game and rose to the moment when called upon as receivers. All year, Loveland, A.J. Barner and Max Bredeson have been physical focal points for the offense, and last night, they left their fingerprints all over this game.

The Michigan Wolverines are national champions.

Offensive line: A+

Michigan’s offense rushed for more yards (303) than Washington accumulated in total (301). The Wolverines racked up 443 yards of total offense largely due to the play of the offensive line. Entering the contest, Michigan understood Washington won the Joe Moore Award and wanted to send a message. Message received loud and clear.

The Michigan Wolverines are national champions.

Defensive line, linebackers, defensive backs: A+

Let’s break the rules and combine these three units. This unit held Washington to a season-low 13 points and only three points in the second half. The Michigan defense forced two turnovers, shut down the Huskies’ running game and disrupted any momentum or rhythm for Washington’s celebrated passing attack.

The Michigan Wolverines are national champions.

Special Teams: B

Kicker James Turner connected on two clutch field goals to continue Michigan’s momentum, and punter Tommy Doman’s 46.8 yards per punt average was enough to consistently flip the field and set up Michigan’s defense for success. Michigan’s special teams won’t make headlines, but after the Rose bowl, that is quite okay.

The Michigan Wolverines are national champions.