Wolverines seal their ‘ideal story’ with CFP title
Heather Dinich, ESPN Elder WriterJan 8, 2024, 11:19 PM ET
- College football press reporter
- Joined ESPN.com in 2007
- Graduate of Indiana University
HOUSTON, Texas– In the end, the “Michigan vs. Everybody” mantra that influenced the Wolverines all season long was rather fitting.The Wolverines did indeed square off against everybody– from the NCAA to their own Huge 10 conference to the No. 2 group in the nation Monday night on college football’s biggest stage. On and off the field, Michigan refused to let any opponent, any NCAA investigation or any of the 6 games its head coach was suspended for get in its method of winning a nationwide title.And Monday night, when it mattered the most, No. 1 Michigan did
it once again, beating No. 2 Washington 34-13 before a revealed crowd of 72,808 at NRG Arena to make the school’s first championship game because 1997, when it shared the honor with Nebraska. The Wolverines asserted themselves from the opening kickoff and never ever trailed versus the Huskies (14-1 ).” I feel like this has been the ideal pleased ending,”said running back Donovan Edwards, who averaged a remarkable 17.3 backyards per carry and complete with 103 lawns and two goals.”A great deal of individual success, a lot of personal failures, however our supreme objective was to win a championship game. … There’s no other feeling than to go through what we have and still come out on top. So best story, a great deal of adversity– coach Harbaugh’s not there for 6 games– best story. “Michigan’s national title will always be entangled with what was the most significant story in
college football this year, accusations of a wide-spread sign-stealing scheme allegedly led by former staff member Connor Stalions, who resigned Nov. 4. As polarizing as the program has been nationally, though, those within it have only been galvanized by the debate and accusations.Editor’s Picks 2 Associated”It sustained us, “Michigan defensive take on Mason Graham stated.”Everything that we’ve been through, whatever they tried to do to us, attempted to
whatever we did this season. Winning this game solidifies we’re that group. … Coach Harbaugh’s on the plane and he does not even get to go to our game against Penn State. Our back’s been against the wall, however this group’s different.”So is its head coach.After the confetti had fallen, Harbaugh discovered his parents on the field and first covered his 84-yeard-old daddy– a spitting image of himself– in a bear
hug, lifting him up off the ground. He turned to his mother and did the same, planting a kiss on her and stating,” We did it!””For me personally, I can now sit at the huge individual’s table in the family, “said Harbaugh, a previous Michigan quarterback in his ninth season coaching his alma mater.”
They won’t keep me over there on the little table anymore. My dad, Jack Harbaugh, won a championship game and my sibling won a Super Bowl. It’s good to be at the huge individual’s table from now on.” In what was the first championship game appearance for both teams,(Michigan’s ’97 shared title with Nebraska was won one year before the first BCS Championship game game)Michigan became the sixth group in major college football history to complete 15-0 or much better in a season and set the Huge Ten’s record for the most wins in a season.The Wolverines did it the old-school way, with a relentless running game that racked up 303 backyards, and a stifling defense that flustered Heisman runner-up quarterback Michael Penix Jr. into 2 interceptions.Michigan jumped out to a 14-3 first-quarter lead, however Washington reacted with a three-yard goal from Penix to Jalen McMillian that sent the Huskies to the locker space routing 17-10. That was the only goal, though, they would score.” They’re a great team, “Penix stated.”We just didn’t perform in the minutes when we required to. It’s just about executing. I don’t feel like they did anything– I seem like we beat ourselves.” Michigan had all of the pieces in place for the best season– starting with a veteran quarterback in J.J. McCarthy, who wasn’t flashy, but won the turnover fight versus Penix.Michigan had the big offensive line that won the fight in advance and paved
the way for a vibrant duo at running back in Blake Corum and Edwards. They each ran for over 100 backyards and together represented four goals. Corum, who missed last year’s CFP with a knee injury, was named the game’s Offensive MVP after totaling 134 backyards and 2 touchdowns on 2 carries.Michigan likewise had the stingy defense that flustered Penix all night, making it even more hard for the Huskies to have success in the deep death game– or any real death game at all. Penix finished just 27 of 51 pass attempts( 53%)for 255 backyards and a touchdown.”That was a magnificent game by our defense, “Harbaugh said.Corum Edwards Rush 20 6 Yards 134 104 * YBC 100 * 99 * TD 2 2 * Season-best– ESPN Stats & Information This was arguably the most talented Michigan team in years, one that constructed its success on not just a senior-laden lineup, but likewise discipline, seldom acquiring charges and turnovers.
It wasn’t, however, without its flaws.There was the NCAA investigation into
|alleged recruiting violations throughout the 2020 season.A separate NCAA investigation into
|sign-stealing plan. Harbaugh’s
|three-game suspension to open the season, and another three-game suspension to
|end the season
|— the latter which was enforced
by the Big Ten for breaking the league’s sportsmanship policy by illegally going off-campus to steal signs.Michigan’s inspiration extended beyond that, though, back to the Feast Bowl loss to TCU– the program’s second straight CFP semifinal loss.
“I ‘d say we came a long method, however in order to achieve things like this, you’ve
got to go to those dark locations where everything’s not fantastic,”McCarthy said. “And just the response, the seriousness right after that last game in 2015, it was different. I understood it. Simply from being on the podium in 2015 and saying we would be back. I understood the guys that were coming back. I had this sensation that it was going to be where we are
right now.” With Harbaugh sidelined for the final 3 games of the routine season, offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore led the Wolverines to important wins against Penn State, Maryland and Ohio State. When asked what the phrase “Michigan vs. Everyone”mean to him, Moore stated, “If you’re not with us, you’re against us. “With Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti watching from a suite with Big Ten personnel, Big 10 Network personnel and guests, Michigan did what it has actually done all season in spite of the debate– it out-played its opponent.Michigan averaged a massive 19.3 backyards per bring in the first quarter. The Wolverines won the fight in advance and developed confusion for Washington’s defense. Michigan had four plays of a minimum of 35 yards, and the Huskies’defense allowed 209 rushing yards in the first half– the most the program has actually allowed in a half because 2011. Washington went to its locker space at halftime tracking 17-3, its greatest deficit of
the season. There were also some uncharacteristic drops and some errant throws.With 10:27 staying in the very first half, Rome Odunze, one of the leading receivers in the nation, was wide open and within scoring variety when Penix overthrew him on a bold fourth-and-7, a play the Huskies frantically required to swing the momentum.At one point in the 4th quarter, he had completed simply 26.7 %of his passes tossed at least five yards (4-of-15 )and had thrown one interception. With 4:29 left in the game, he threw another one, and Mike Sainristil ran it back 81 backyards to Washington’s 8-yard line. The play established Corum’s touchdown that sealed the win and put the Wolverines ahead 34-13. It was the second time in the 2nd half a goal by Corum provided some separation. With 7:09 left in the game, Corum ran 12 backyards for a goal that put the Wolverines ahead 27-13. It was a Hollywood ending for Corum, who lead the FBS with 27 total goals and is unlikely to return next season. He has now had a rushing goal in 15 straight games, the longest streak
by a Michigan player in the previous 20 seasons.”Coaches always say, playmakers make plays, and do not wait on anybody else to make a play,” Corum stated. “Today was a complete, complete team effort.” McCarthy only completed 10 of 18 passes due to the fact that he didn’t need to be a hero in the air with so much success on the ground. As McCarthy left the locker room after the game to go to the postgame press conference, he breathed out.”Oh man,”he said,”we did it. “Against everybody.