No. 1 Michigan rallies late to stun No. 4 Alabama in OT and reach national title game

J.J. McCarthy threw for 221 yards and three touchdowns and Michigan rallied in the fourth quarter to stun Alabama 27-20 in overtime of a thrilling College Football Playoff Semifinal game in front of 96,371 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

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Jim Harbaugh and Michigan are one step closer to a national championship and a perfect season.

J.J. McCarthy threw for 221 yards and three touchdowns, and Michigan rallied in the fourth quarter to stun Alabama 27-20 in overtime of a thrilling College Football Playoff Semifinal game in front of 96,371 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

Leave it to the "Grand Daddy of Them All" to give us one of the best College Football Playoff games of them all.

Trailing 20-13 with just over three minutes remaining and their undefeated season on the line, McCarthy led Michigan on an eight-play, 75-yard drive that included a fourth-and-2 conversion that tied the game at 20-20 and sent it to overtime. Just the second overtime finish in the 110 editions of the Rose Bowl game.

Alabama won the toss in overtime and elected to start on defense. Despite their defense carrying them all game, they caved immediately once overtime started.

Blake Corum's 17-yard run on the second play of overtime put the Wolverines ahead 27-20.

Alabama drove the ball to the three-yard line on their overtime possession, but quarterback Jalen Milroe was stuffed on his sneak attempt and Michigan hung on for the victory.

Michigan (14-0) will play the winner of the Sugar Bowl between No. 2 Washington vs. No. 3 Texas in the National Championship Game on Jan. 8 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.

The game was supposed to feature a matchup of two of the country's best offenses, but instead it was a battle of defenses on display on Monday night.

Alabama thought they had intercepted McCarthy on the first play of the game, but a replay review determined the defensive back had stepped out of bounds before re-entering the field of play for the interception.

The overturned call deflated any momentum the Crimson Tide thought they had received, but it was only a matter of time before senior running back Jase McClellan got loose.

McClellan scampered down the right-hand side for 34 yards to give Alabama the first score of the game and an early 7-0 lead.

Tyler Morris caught the first touchdown pass from McCarthy for Michigan. McCarthy was later named the Rose Bowl Offensive Player of the Game Award winner.

Michigan led 13-10 at the half before Alabama recaptured the lead thanks to McClellan early in the fourth quarter.

McClellan finished with 87 yards and two touchdowns in the loss. Milroe had 63 rushing yards of his own.

Michigan narrowly avoided their third straight loss in the College Football Playoff Semifinal and will play for their first championship in the CFP era, and first since 1997.

When Harbaugh left the NFL and returned to his alma mater in 2015, he vowed to return his school to national prominence. In his first six seasons as head coach of the Wolverines, he never won the Big Ten title or even beat rival Ohio State for that matter.

But everything changed in 2021. Some new coordinators and recruits brought Michigan back to dominance. They won three straight Big Ten titles and went to three consecutive College Football Playoff semifinals. All this success, despite a pair of two different three-game suspensions that Harbaugh served in 2023.

First over recruiting violations during the COVID-19 pandemic, and then a sign-stealing scandal that swept the nation.

Against all obstacles and odds, Michigan has relentlessly persevered, rallying around their one word manta "BET," that stands for "Bringing Everyone Together." Indeed, the Wolverines have stayed together during this tumultuous season and did it again in the final few minutes of the Rose Bowl.

Now, they are one win away from history.

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