The Michigan Wolverines finished the 2023 regular season a perfect 12-0 and would go on to win their third-straight Big Ten Championship with a win over Iowa. It was their second straight undefeated regular season and set up another run to the College Football Playoff.
It was a special year and a season was filled with important plays, but what were the 10 best plays of the regular season? We take a look at the top plays that were not only impressive, but key to helping them win all 12 regular season games.
10. J.J. McCarthy connects with Roman Wilson just before halftime against Nebraska
On the surface this looks like just a normal touchdown catch, but it showed just how special McCarthy is on the run. He avoided the rush and rolled to his left, which makes it extremely difficult to throw the ball as a right hander. He not only squared up his shoulders on the run, but he threw an absolute dart to Wilson for the pair’s second touchdown of the game.
9. Will Johnson with the pick six against Minnesota
Four seconds into the game, Minnesota’s Athan Kaliakmanis dropped back on the second play from scrimmage. He overshot his receiver and hit Johnson in stride for a pick six. The Wolverines led 7-0 early and never looked back in the blowout win to retain the Little Brown Jug.
8. Donovan Edwards touchdown run against Penn State
The Wolverines were leading the Nittany Lions 7-3, but were still struggling a bit on offense and were facing a 3rd-and-11 from the Penn State 22 in the second quarter. Instead of passing the ball, they handed it to Edwards who avoided a few tackles to put the Wolverines up 14-3. It was the beginning of the end for Penn State as Michigan controlled the rest of the game.
What makes it even better was this quote from Edwards about the play: “It was a timeout, right? Something like that, a media timeout, blah blah blah. We need to cut those out, they make the game go too long… But, you know coach Hart’s like ‘Get the first down.’ Alright, just let me play ball,” said Edwards. “But then, me and another defender, we’re locking eyes. I’m smiling at him, he’s smiling at me for like 10 seconds. Make the play, get a touchdown. My little Michael Jordan moment right there.”
7. Corum breaks it open against Penn State
michigan’s blake corum runs the ball for clutch 30-yard touchdown pic.twitter.com/VfO3DNt1Cc— TransPerfect Music City Bowl (@MusicCityBowl) November 16, 2023
Corum scored 22 touchdowns in the regular season and this was one of the most important ones. The Wolverines were ahead by just eight points even though they were controlling the game. They needed a big play, and Corum delivered with this 30 yard touchdown on their first play of the drive after the Nittany Lions turned if over on downs.
6. Mike Sainristil with the pick six against Rutgers
The Wolverines were up 17-7 in the third quarter and the Scarlet Knights were driving. They were inside the Wolverines 30 and facing a 4th-and-two. What happened next would break the game open. Sainristil jumped a route to pick the ball off. He then kept his feet and followed a convoy 71 yards for a touchdown. Rutgers would only get the ball two more times and the Wolverines had their fourth straight win.
5. Johnson picks off Kyle McCord
The Sainristil interception might have been more impressive of an overall play, but this interception was definitely more important. With the game still scoreless, Johnson jumped a slant route by Marvin Harrison Jr. and got the interception for the first big play of the game against Ohio State. The turnover led to the first touchdown of the game and the Wolverines would never trail.
4. Corum with the emotional touchdown against Ohio State
This was the most important touchdown of the year for the Wolverines. The Buckeyes had just run it down the throats of the Wolverines to tie the game and Michigan desperately needed to answer. They were driving, but then Zak Zinter went down with a broken leg and things didn’t look great for the Wolverines. They answered the very next play as Corum scored from 22 yards out and then flashed 65 for Zinter. It was a huge touchdown for the game and just as emotional at the same time.
3. Rod Moore’s interception seals the win over Ohio State
The Wolverines were up 30-24 with under a minute left, but the Buckeyes had just completed two passes and looked poise to break their hearts. That is when Moore called “game” and picked up a fluttering pass from McCord and sealed Michigan’s third straight win.
Moore said after the game, “I keep telling myself ‘dang I just called game,’ and it’s one helluva feeling.”
2. McCarthy to Wilson against Ohio State
This is probably the prettiest pass McCarthy threw all year long. He slipped the ball just past the head of Malik Hartford into the waiting arms of Wilson. It was close to an interception, but the play stood and gave Michigan a 14-3 lead on the Buckeyes. This would normally be the top play of the year, but one other play from McCarthy to Wilson tops the list.
1. Wilson with the helmet grab against Nebraska
The game was scoreless and Michigan was facing a 2nd-and-two inside the Cornhuskers 30. McCarthy dropped back and after what seemed like forever threw the ball towards the end zone. Wilson was there, but a Cornhuskers defensive back was closing quick. What happened next was possibly the catch of the year. Wilson went up and caught the ball on the other side of the defenders helmet and just came down in bounds. It was the first of two touchdowns for Wilson, but easily his most impressive of the season.