Brian Gornick, Sports Editor
The Rose Bowl is called “The Granddaddy of Them All” for a reason.
The longest active bowl game in college football continues to impress with exciting match ups since the first Rose Bowl in 1902, with Michigan facing off against Stanford. For the 2023-24 college football season, the Rose Bowl was once again selected to host a College Football Playoff game for the first time since 2021.
The 2024 Rose Bowl featured a top 4 match up between the #1 Michigan Wolverines, and the #4 Alabama Crimson Tide. The game was Michigan’s third trip in a row to the College Football Playoffs, and the first time the Wolverines were ranked #1 in the country since 1998, when they won the national championship.
As the game kicked off on a sunny New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California, the excitement was felt from fans of both teams. Both were fresh off winning their respective conferences a month ago. As for Michigan fans, this was the first time their team had been to the Rose Bowl in over 15 years. Alabama last played in the Rose Bowl in 2021.
The first half was largely a defensive slug fest. Michigan began the game with the ball after Alabama deferred, Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy’s first pass was nearly intercepted, but the defender was ruled out of bounds when he caught the ball. After failing to gain much else offensively, Michigan would punt the ball to Alabama. The Crimson Tide’s first offensive possession, with Michigan getting sacks on Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe on two of the first three plays.
Any momentum Michigan had from their defense was squashed however on the following punt, with returner Semaj Morgan fumbling the ball which would be scooped up by Alabama.
Alabama would then score on a four-play touchdown drive, but Michigan responded soundly with a 10-play, 75 yard touchdown drive of their own, making the score 7-7 halfway through the first quarter.
Scoring chances were hard to come by for either team after these two drives. Both teams traded punts, until Michigan scored on their second-to-final offensive drive of the first half. Alabama with just over three minutes to go in the half would then kick a field goal to bring the score to 13-10 Michigan at the half.
For the majority of the second half, Michigan’s offense largely struggled to get into rhythm. Their first three offensive drives all resulted in them being forced to punt, and an Alabama touchdown late in the third quarter gave them the lead once again.
Michigan’s defense helped catch a break, when Milroe fumbled the ball near midfield early in the fourth quarter that was picked up by Michigan. That excitement dissipated when Michigan kicker James Turner missed a 49-yard field goal attempt.
With the game coming down to every possession, Alabama would kick a field goal of their own, extending their lead to a touchdown. The game would be 20-13 Alabama with just under five minutes to go in regulation.
In a fashion unseen from Michigan all year, the Wolverines drove down the field to tie the game late in the fourth quarter with a touchdown pass to wide receiver Roman Wilson. Alabama failed to score on their final offensive drive, taking the game into overtime.
Receiving the ball first in overtime, Michigan only needed two plays to score with a 17-yard run by Blake Corum. Alabama would be unsuccessful in their attempts to tie the game, with Milroe being stopped on a quarterback sneak on 4th down at the three-yard line. Michigan would win the Rose Bowl 27-20 in overtime.
Michigan’s win against Alabama was their first win in the Rose Bowl since 1998, when Michigan beat Washington State to win the national championship that year. It is also head coach Jim Harbaugh’s first bowl win since 2015, and his first win in the College Football Playoff.
With their win over Alabama, Michigan now will play for a national title against the Washington Huskies in Houston, Texas, with kickoff slated a 7:30 p.m. est..