College Football Playoff: Michigan Wolverines and Washington Huskies Advance to National Championship



CNN

The Michigan Wolverines and Washington Huskies have advanced to the College Football Playoff National Championship, where they will face off in the title game on January 8th in Houston.

In Monday's two semifinals, the then-No. 1 Michigan defeated the No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide 27-20 in overtime in the Rose Bowl, while No. 2 Washington defeated the Texas Longhorns 37-31. In the sugar bowl.

Here are some highlights from Monday's semifinals.

In a hard-fought battle, Michigan and Alabama were tied 20-20 after regulation, forcing the so-called “granddaddy of them all” contest into overtime for only the second time in the sport's illustrious history.

After Michigan running back Blake Corum scored a touchdown to put his team ahead, the Wolverine defense stopped Alabama quarterback Jalen Milrow on fourth down at the 3-yard line to advance to the national championship game on Jan. 8 in Houston.

Michigan became the first college football program to reach 1,000 all-time wins earlier this season as the Wolverines look for their first national championship since 1997, when they shared the title with the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The NCAA has awarded nine football championships to Michigan, while Michigan has 11 championships.

This is the third straight season the Wolverines have made the College Football Playoff, but Michigan has advanced past the semifinals the past two years.

A national title for Michigan would be a memorable season that saw controversy.

To start the year, head coach Jim Harbaugh was suspended for the team's first three games, a self-imposed sanction by Michigan's athletic department due to NCAA recruiting violations. The NCAA, which has an open investigation into the matter, could add additional penalties to the case.

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A second NCAA investigation into the Wolverines' alleged sign-stealing in October led to the suspension and resignation of Michigan football analyst Connor Stallions, and the firing of linebackers coach Chris Partidge.

Harbaugh denied he was aware of any plans to steal signs from other teams, but accepted the three-game suspension — bringing his total from Michigan's sidelines to six.

Michigan also has two NCAA investigations underway.

Michigan (14-0) was thrown by quarterback JJ McCarthy as he has been all season on Monday. Three touchdown passes against Alabama. The potential first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft completed 17 of 27 passes.

Corum also scored the Wolverines' first touchdown, and Michigan's defense frustrated Milrow by sacking him five times in the first half and six times overall.

The Wolverines needed a 75-yard touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter, where Corum handled the offensive heroics and the defense shut down the play as Milrow had nowhere to go as he ran up the middle of the line.

The Crimson Tide finished the season 12-2.

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 01: Jace McClellan #2 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Michigan Wolverines during the CFP Semifinal Rose Bowl game at CFP's Rose Bowl Stadium on January 1, 2020.  (Photo by Harry Howe/Getty Images)

Washington never trailed in the first half, taking the lead on three separate occasions. But Texas had an answer for each score, and the two teams entered the game tied 21-21.

Led by the nation's leading passer, quarterback Michael Benix Jr., the Huskies scored 13 unanswered points in the second half and held off a late Longhorns rally to clinch a nail-biting victory at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Down by six points with less than a minute left in the fourth quarter, Longhorns quarterback Quinn Evers drove the offense into the redzone, but his fourth-and-11 pass attempt fell incomplete on the final play of the game.

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Heisman Trophy finalist Bennix Jr. completed 29 of his 38 pass attempts and finished with 430 passing yards and two touchdown passes in the game. His 430 passing yards in a College Football Playoff semifinal are second-most behind Joe Burrow's 493 yards in 2019.

Like Michigan, the Washington Huskies enter the semifinals with a 13-0 record and can attribute their success to Benix Jr.

January 1, 2024;  New Orleans, LA, USA;  Texas Longhorns tight end Ja'Daveon Sanders (0) runs with the ball during the second quarter against the Washington Huskies in the 2024 Sugar Bowl College Football Playoff semifinal game at the Caesars Superdome.  Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Bennix was confident of going to the Sugar Bowl ahead of the team's success.

“I'm not going to lie, their D-line is good. But at the same time, they didn't play our O-line,” Benix told reporters ahead of their matchup against the Longhorns. Brett McMurphy. “They play good ball, but I wouldn't say we're playing the 49ers' D-line or the Eagles' D-line, so we'll be fine.”

The Huskies will next play against the Michigan Wolverines in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game on January 8th at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.

Washington, which will leave the Pac-12 Conference after the season, will compete for its first national championship title since 1991, when the Huskies shared the title with the Miami Hurricanes. The NCAA Washington has won a national football championship Huskies claim both.

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