Jan 1, 2024; Pasadena, CA, USA; Michigan Wolverines running back Blake Corum (2) scores a touchdown past Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Deontae Lawson (32) and defensive back Caleb Downs (2) in the 2nd quarter of the 2024 Rose Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

No. 1 Michigan rallies to beat No. 4 Alabama in OT Rose Bowl thriller

Blake Corum ran for the winning touchdown in overtime and top-seeded Michigan advanced to the College Football Playoff national championship game with a 27-20 overtime victory over fourth-seeded Alabama on Monday in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

Corum rushed for 83 yards and also caught a touchdown pass as Michigan (14-0) won a CFP contest for the first time. J.J. McCarthy completed 17 of 27 passes for 221 yards and three touchdowns for the Wolverines.

Michigan will face either second-seeded Washington or third-seeded Texas in the national championship game on Jan. 8 in Houston. The Huskies and Longhorns meet later Monday night in the Sugar Bowl.

The Crimson Tide (12-2) had an opportunity to force a second overtime but Jalen Milroe was stopped for a gain of 1 on a fourth-down keeper from the 3-yard line, prompting Michigan to go wild celebrating its victory.

Jase McClellan rushed for 87 yards and two touchdowns for Alabama. Milroe was 16-of-23 passing for 116 yards and added 63 yards on the ground.

Corum handled the ball on both of Michigan’s overtime plays. He ran for 8 yards on the first carry before bursting through on the go-ahead 17-yard scoring run.

Tyler Morris and Roman Wilson also caught touchdown passes for Michigan. Braiden McGregor had two sacks for the Wolverines, who outgained the Crimson Tide 351-288.

Alabama took a 17-13 lead on the second play of the fourth quarter when McClellan scored from the 3.

The Crimson Tide later worked the clock for 5:49 and took a 20-13 lead when Will Reichard kicked a 52-yard field goal with 4:41 left in regulation.

The Wolverines converted on fourth-and-2 from their own 33 on the tying eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. McCarthy capped it with a 4-yard scoring pass to Wilson with 1:34 remaining to set up the third overtime game of the CFP era.

Michigan outgained Alabama 197-96 in the first half en route to a 13-10 lead at the break.

The Crimson Tide struck first after their touchdown was set up on a fumbled punt return by the Wolverines’ Semaj Morgan. Quandarrius Robinson recovered at the Michigan 44-yard line. Four plays later, McClellan broke loose for a 34-yard scoring run with 9:41 left in the first quarter.

Michigan tied the score five-plus minutes later when McCarthy tossed an 8-yard touchdown pass to Corum.

The Wolverines took a 13-7 lead when McCarthy hit Morris on a 38-yard scoring play. However, William Wagner’s errant snap got past holder Tommy Doman to leave Michigan up by six with 3:49 left in the half.

Reichard booted a 50-yard field goal with seven seconds left in the half to bring Alabama within three.

–Field Level Media

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy celebrates a touchdown against Indiana scored by running back Blake Corum during the first half of U-M's 52-7 win over Indiana on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in Ann Arbor.

Motivators fuel No. 1 Michigan, No. 4 Alabama in CFP semifinal

Jalen Milroe’s benching after Alabama’s Week 2 loss to Texas is well known, and so is his ensuing rise to one of the top players in the nation.

The chip on the shoulder of the Crimson Tide quarterback is pronounced as he leads No. 4 Alabama into the College Football Playoff semifinal contest against No. 1 Michigan on New Year’s Day at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Milroe has often heard he should switch positions. But watching those words come from the mouth of then-Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien (2021-22) was particularly irritating.

“My own offensive coordinator, Bill O’Brien, told me I shouldn’t play quarterback,” Milroe said Thursday. “The biggest thing was to stay true to myself. I had a bigger purpose than anyone’s opinion. (O’Brien) told me a bunch of positions I could’ve switched to, but look where I’m at, so who has the last laugh?”

Milroe looks to add more enjoyment to his spectacular campaign when the Crimson Tide (12-1) face the Wolverines (13-0) for a spot in the national championship game. No. 2 Washington and No. 3 Texas meet in the other semifinal.

Milroe has passed for 2,718 yards, 23 touchdowns and six interceptions while also rushing for 12 scores. The Crimson Tide have won 11 straight games — including all 10 since he was restored to the starting gig.

The signature moment was the fourth-and-31 pass to Isaiah Bond with 32 seconds left to beat Auburn in the Iron Bowl.

“He’s a different quarterback than we’ve seen all year,” Michigan defensive end Jaylen Harrell said. “Freaky athletic, can make all the throws, big throws.”

Michigan has its own solid quarterback in J.J. McCarthy. He owns a 25-1 record as a starter, but that lone setback came in last year’s CFP semifinals when the Wolverines lost 51-45 to TCU. That setback stretched Michigan’s bowl losing streak to six. Now the pressure is higher.

“I think for the outside observer, it’s the biggest game in Michigan history, one of the biggest games in college football history,” McCarthy said Friday. “But to us it’s just another football game that we’re going to go out there and try to execute, play with physicality, and lock into all the little details that are going to show up in these big games.”

McCarthy has completed 74.2 percent of his throws this season for 2,630 yards and 19 touchdowns against four interceptions. Star running back Blake Corum (1,028) has topped 1,000 rushing yards for the second straight season while setting a school mark with 24 rushing touchdowns.

The Michigan defense entered the bowl season as the nation’s leader in scoring defense (9.5 points per game) and No. 2 in total defense (239.7).

The Wolverines have thrived despite coach Jim Harbaugh missing six games due to two different suspensions. But Michigan’s reputation for falling short in big games includes an 0-2 mark in CFP semifinal appearances.

“I think everyone wants to change the narrative of Michigan football or how we can’t win postseason games or we haven’t won a (national title) in forever or whatever it may be,” Wolverines center Drake Nugent said.

On the other hand, Alabama is a stellar 6-1 in the CFP semifinals and has won three national titles during the CFP era. Few people thought the Crimson Tide would be back after a dismal Week 3 effort when a last-minute touchdown was needed to put away South Florida. Milroe was reinstated as starter the following day.

“After Week 3, I don’t think anybody thought we would be in this position,” Alabama defensive end Justin Eboigbe said. “But just truly each and every game, each and every practice, we just came together, understood that it’s us. And I feel like truly we became close as a team through all the doubts, the adversity that happened, and we truly understood that we still controlled our own destiny.”

Crimson Tide running back Jase McClellan (foot) said he’s good to play. He missed the victory over Georgia in the Southeastern Conference title game.

Alabama is 44-26-3 (plus one win vacated due to NCAA violations) in bowl games, while Michigan is 21-29. The teams have met five times with the Crimson Tide holding a 3-2 edge.

–Field Level Media

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy and head coach Jim Harbaugh take the field for warmups before the Big Ten championship game vs. Iowa at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023.

Rose Bowl: Preview, Prop Pick and Prediction

The only college football game with the gravity of Monday’s Rose Bowl matchup between Michigan and Alabama will kick off a week later in Houston, with either Michigan or Alabama the likely favorite over Texas or Washington in the College Football Playoff national championship game.

It might be the getting there that proves to be more difficult.

The Wolverines are a slim favorite against the Crimson Tide in this epic playoff pairing (apologies to Florida State) in Pasadena, Calif.

We have a few betting angles for consideration as New Year’s Day nears.

THE ROSE BOWL
No. 1 Michigan Wolverines vs. No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide

Date, time: Jan. 1, 5 p.m. ET.
Site: Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
Line: Michigan -1.5; total 44.5 (FanDuel).

The Michigan program, coached by the narrative-friendly Jim Harbaugh, is among the elite iconic brands in college football history.

But does it approach the gravitas owned by the University of Alabama, especially during the incredible run of success under the direction of coach Nick Saban?

The Wolverines players, at least to some degree, will take a moment to watch Alabama before the game, perhaps fighting off the urge to be impressed.

THE ‘A’ AGAINST THE ‘M’
If there is an edge with regard to intimidation, Tide quarterback Jalen Milroe believes it comes from Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

“A hundred percent,” Milroe said in advance of the Rose Bowl. “This ‘A’ means a lot to people. We take a lot of pride in wearing the ‘A.’

“(When) it comes to opponents, it’s a hard task to beat down Alabama. It’s a credit to Coach Saban, how well he coaches, the supporting cast he has with his coaching staff and his medical staff and everyone that’s all a part of it, his recruiting staff, as well.”

Milroe takes care of this offense but has the ability to lift his team, as evidenced by his 177.48 pass efficiency rating, fourth in the country and tops among the final four teams left standing.

THE ADJUST FACTOR
There undoubtedly figure to be details that need attention or halftime adjustment, and Alabama has been elite in that area this season. The Tide allowed their nine SEC opponents to average only a shade more than eight points during the second half.

Credit the strength of this coaching staff and the players’ belief in that instruction.

THE PLAN AFTER OHIO STATE?
The Wolverines hope to contend with the Tide’s speed, depth and skill. It wasn’t too much to succeed with the schemes for Ohio State, but Alabama is a different animal.

Milroe is not only mobile, he’s blessed with running back skills.

This facet of football was not a concern for Michigan against Ohio State, whose quarterback Kyle McCord carried once for minus-3 yards. Nor was it a problem in the Big Ten title game (Iowa’s Deacon Hill carried six times for minus-16 yards).

Milroe rolled for 155 rushing yards against LSU and 107 against Auburn.

RISK AND REWARD, THE QB MATCHUP
Milroe takes care of the ball. That includes big games. He had two touchdowns and no interceptions in the SEC title game victory over Georgia, and isn’t likely to be asked to exit his comfort zone unless Alabama finds itself in a deep hole early in the game.

Michigan’s JJ McCarthy may feel a tap on his shoulder and a demand to elevate his game Monday. The Wolverines haven’t needed him to exceed expectations because running back Blake Corum and the ground attack have sufficiently stifled Big Ten competition.

The increased demands on McCarthy have the potential for chaos if Alabama can stuff the Michigan run game.

McCarthy isn’t as skilled at improvisation as Milroe.

If McCarthy succeeds in making the big plays largely by himself, we’ll see him in Houston. If he’s pressured into mistakes and Alabama seizes a win in the turnover battle, Milroe will be the QB in the winner’s circle.

MISMATCH IN COACHING AND DEPTH
There’s not much doubt regarding Harbaugh’s imagination and quirky genius but there’s really no doubting Alabama coach Nick Saban’s planning expertise – especially with a month to prepare.

No bowl victories in the past six tries for Michigan?

Saban contributed to Harbaugh’s winless mark, rolling the Wolverines 35-16 in the Jan. 1, 2020, Citrus Bowl.

It’s easier to coach a team with more NFL talent, and that season’s Saban team included receivers Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith, running back Najee Harris, quarterback Mac Jones and a fearsome defense including cornerback Patrick Surtain II and defensive lineman Raekwon Davis.

It’s more of the same for Saban, and the Alabama depth could swing the late-game storyline.

THE BET
Despite the No. 1 ranking, Michigan is second in talent and depth, not to mention coaching. The halftime adjustment factor is real, so it opens up an opportunity for a plus-money parlay.

Parlay Alabama +1.5 third quarter spread with Alabama +3.5 for the full game (+112 at FanDuel).

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2023; Pasadena, California, USA; Colorado Buffaloes head coach Deion Sanders talks with offensive tackle Kareem Harden (77) in the first half against the UCLA Bruins at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Police recover some items linked to Rose Bowl theft

Some of the possessions, including jewelry, that Colorado football players reported stolen after last weekend’s loss to UCLA at the Rose Bowl have been recovered, Pasadena, Calif., police said.

In a statement issued Friday, police said the recovered items had been returned to the players, but the search continues for the rest of the stolen goods. The items were located upon the execution of a search warrant, and the suspects in the case are juveniles, according to police.

“The Pasadena Police Department would like to thank those who reported leads to our tip line,” the statement said. “The information and support are invaluable and play a crucial role in helping us ensure safety and security in our community. Our detectives worked diligently to follow up on all leads, which resulted in the quick execution of search warrants. The investigation will be ongoing.”

Earlier this week, Colorado head coach Deion Sanders called on the NCAA and the Rose Bowl venue itself to reimburse the players for their stolen jewelry and other items.

“NCAA, you do something about everything else,” Sanders said. “Do something about this one.”

Sanders said the Colorado program was putting together an accounting of all the items the players and staff said they lost.

“All that stuff should be replaced,” Sanders said. “This is the Rose Bowl. It’s at the grandaddy off them all, right? I’m sure grandaddy has some money. Grandpa should have some money to give these kids. I’m gonna have a list made out for these kids, and I know they’re gonna be truthful about what they lost so we can try to get that back for them. They may not be able to get the items back but we should be able to reimburse.”

–Field Level Media

Deion Sanders walks the sidelines as the Colorado plays Arizona State at Mountain America Stadium.

Deion Sanders wants action after alleged locker-room theft

Colorado football players reported the theft of jewelry and other valuables from the locker room at the Rose Bowl following their loss to UCLA on Saturday night, but coach Deion Sanders doesn’t want police to be the sole investigators.

In his weekly news conference on Tuesday, Sanders called on the NCAA to investigate and for the officials who oversee the iconic stadium in Pasadena, Calif., to see to it that the players are reimbursed. Police in Pasadena are investigating.

“NCAA, you do something about everything else,” Sanders said. “Do something about this one.”

Sanders said the Colorado program is putting together an accounting of all the items the players and staff said they lost. and when he has it together, the Rose Bowl itself could get the bill.

“All that stuff should be replaced,” Sanders said. “This is the Rose Bowl. It’s at the grandaddy off them all, right? I’m sure grandaddy has some money. Grandpa should have some money to give these kids. I’m gonna have a list made out for these kids, and I know they’re gonna be truthful about what they lost so we can try to get that back for them. They may not be able to get the items back but we should be able to reimburse.”

The NCAA has yet to comment on Sanders’ remarks.

The Buffaloes (4-4, 1-4) host No. 16 Oregon State (6-2, 3-2) on Saturday.

Sanders said that in the future, Colorado will provide security for the locker room, although he didn’t necessarily think before Saturday that the Rose Bowl would need such precautions.

“You’re in the Rose Bowl,” Sanders said. “Who robs the Rose Bowl? Somebody.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 2, 2023; Pasadena, California, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver Harrison Wallace III (6) makes a catch against Utah Utes safety R.J. Hubert (11) in the second half of the 109th Rose Bowl game at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

No. 11 Penn State pulls away from No. 8 Utah to win Rose Bowl

Sean Clifford passed for 279 yards and two touchdowns, Nicholas Singleton rushed for 120 yards and two scores and No. 11 Penn State dominated the second half while defeating No. 8 Utah 35-21 in the Rose Bowl on Monday at Pasadena, Calif.

The Nittany Lions (11-2) became the first team in Rose Bowl history to have multiple touchdown plays from scrimmage of more than 80 yards in the same game. Singleton rushed 87 yards for a TD in the third quarter, and Clifford teamed up with KeAndre Lambert-Smith on an 88-yard scoring pass in the fourth.

Kaytron Allen added a rushing touchdown and Mitchell Tinsley caught a scoring reception for Penn State, which scored the first 21 points of a rainy second half.

Quarterback Cameron Rising departed for the Utes (10-4) due to a left knee injury in the third quarter and didn’t return. He completed 8 of 21 passes for 95 yards, one touchdown and one interception and rushed for 47 yards on 10 attempts.

It marked the second straight Rose Bowl in which Rising was knocked out of the contest with an injury. He sustained a head injury in the fourth quarter of the Utes’ 48-45 loss to Ohio State in last year’s game.

Bryson Barnes replaced Rising and completed 10 of 19 passes for 112 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Utah’s Ja’Quinden Jackson rushed for a touchdown, and Thomas Yassmin and Jaylen Dixon had scoring receptions.

Penn State was backed up in its own end in a tie game when Singleton broke free on a third-and-2 play for his 87-yard run, the third-longest in Rose Bowl history. Singleton was in the clear by his own 30-yard line en route to giving his team a 21-14 lead with 9:25 left in the third quarter.

Rising was injured on Utah’s next drive after scrambling 9 yards for a first down with 8:31 left.

The Nittany Lions went for the other big strike on the first play of the final stanza to take a 14-point lead. Lambert-Smith managed to get wide open in the Utah secondary and Clifford hit him for the 88-yard score that was the longest pass play in Rose Bowl history.

Penn State increased the lead to 35-14 when Allen scored from the 1 with 10:36 left in the game. Barnes and Dixon teamed up on a late 5-yard touchdown pass for the Utes.

Earlier, Singleton scored the game’s first points on a 5-yard run with seven seconds left in the first quarter.

Utah tied the game when Rising hit Yassmin on a 1-yard touchdown pass with 7:55 left in the first half. Clifford tossed a 10-yard scoring pass to Tinsley to give Penn State a 14-7 lead with 4:47 remaining until the break before Jackson scored on a 19-yard run to tie it at 14 with 2:38 left.

–Field Level Media

Jan 2, 2023; Pasadena, California, USA; Utah Utes quarterback Cameron Rising (7) walks with assistance off the field in the second half against the Penn State Nittany Lions of the 109th Rose Bowl game at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Utah’s Cameron Rising exits 2nd straight Rose Bowl due to injury

Utah quarterback Cameron Rising departed the Rose Bowl game on Monday with a left knee injury sustained in the third quarter at Pasadena, Calif.

Rising was injured while scrambling 9 yards for a first down against Penn State with 8:31 left in the period. He was examined in the tent and then headed to the locker room for treatment.

Rising returned to the sideline out of uniform with about eight minutes to play in the game. He was wearing a bulky knee brace under his sweatpants.

Rising completed 8 of 21 passes for 95 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He rushed for 56 yards on 9 attempts.

It marked the second straight Rose Bowl in which Rising was knocked out of the contest with an injury. He sustained a head injury in the fourth quarter of the Utes’ 48-45 loss to Ohio State in last year’s game.

Bryson Barnes replaced Rising, just as he did in last year’s Rose Bowl.

–Field Level Media

Dec 2, 2022; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Utah Utes quarterback Cameron Rising (7) celebrates after being named MVP in the victory against the Southern California Trojans in the PAC-12 Football Championship at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Cameron Rising, Utah relish Rose Bowl return to face Penn St.

Utah enjoyed its first-ever Rose Bowl appearance for most of last year’s game but arrives back in Pasadena, Calif., adorned with the unfinished-business label.

The Utes fell to Ohio State on a late field goal last year, and now No. 8 Utah will compete against another Big Ten powerhouse program on Monday when it faces No. 11 Penn State at the famed stadium below the San Gabriel Mountains.

It has been a recurring theme for the Utes (10-3) when they discuss being in the Rose Bowl for the second straight season.

Utah never trailed over the first 55-plus minutes of the 48-45 loss to the Buckeyes and sustained a tough blow when standout quarterback Cam Rising exited due to a head injury early in the fourth quarter.

Rising, who played high school football 50 miles to the west in Newbury Park, Calif., is excited about having a second opportunity to play in “The Granddaddy of Them All.”

“It just means the world,” said Rising, who has passed for 2,939 yards, 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season. “To go back to the Rose Bowl again, it just means there’s unfinished business that we want to go out there and finish.”

Despite last year’s loss, the Utes have an 11-4 bowl record under coach Kyle Whittingham.

And Whittingham sees returning to the scene and knowing the pageantry and buildup to game day being something that is immensely valuable.

“I think that’s always a positive thing,” Whittingham said. “It doesn’t guarantee anything. It doesn’t mean you’re going to play great or anything like that. But it does give you a reference point and some opportunity to learn from what you did well or didn’t do so well in last year’s preparation and apply it this year for the better.”

The Utes have won six of their past seven games, including two victories over Southern California. The second one was a 47-24 whipping in the Pac-12 title game at Las Vegas.

Utah All-America cornerback Clark Phillips entered the bowl season tied for second nationally with six interceptions.

Penn State (10-2) enters with four straight victories, and its losses were to two of the four College Football Playoff participants: No. 2 Michigan and No. 4 Ohio State.

Nittany Lions coach James Franklin is preparing for a tough task, as he is having trouble identifying weaknesses in the Utes.

“If you’re a true football guy, if you watch them, that’s what a true football team is supposed to be like,” Franklin said ahead of the first-ever meeting between the programs.

The contest is the final one for Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford, who is in his sixth season with the program. Clifford passed for 2,543 yards, 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions in the 2022 regular season.

The Nittany Lions saw star cornerback Joey Porter Jr. opt out of the Rose Bowl and declare for the draft. Receiver Parker Washington, who would have missed the Rose Bowl due to a leg injury, also declared for the draft.

Star left tackle Olu Fashanu is bypassing the draft and returning for the 2023 season, but he hadn’t decided whether he would play in the Rose Bowl. Center Juice Scruggs and defensive end Nick Tarburton both declared for the draft but will play in the game.

Defensive tackle PJ Mustipher was one of the Penn State players who elected not to opt out of the Rose Bowl.

“We don’t have a lot of opt-outs, and I think it’s just the magnitude of the game,” Mustipher said. “We haven’t been to the Rose Bowl since 2016, so it’s not easy to do, and I think guys want to experience what it’s like to go to a Rose Bowl, what it’s like to win a Rose Bowl and all that kind of stuff.”

Penn State, which has lost three of four previous Rose Bowls, has just two wins in its past six bowl games.

–Field Level Media

Jan 1, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; A general view of the Rose Bowl game logo at midfield during the Rose Bowl between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Rose Bowl agrees to CFP expansion beginning in ’24

An expanded College Football Playoff for the 2024 and ’25 seasons reportedly took a major step toward becoming reality on Wednesday.

Multiple media outlets reported Wednesday night that the Rose Bowl agreed to terms with the CFP that would allow the current four-team playoff format to expand to 12 teams as early as the 2024 season.

The CFP’s current TV contract with ESPN expires following the 2025 season and the group’s Board of Managers in September agreed to an expanded playoff format beginning in the 2026 season. But soon after, the CFP began working to expand the 2024 and ’25 seasons, as well — a move that could bring in an estimated $450 million in revenue.

While most parties — particularly the other five CFP bowls — agreed to amend the current contract to accommodate the early expanded format, the Rose Bowl in November announced publicly it was not yet ready to agree to the change. Much of the reluctancy was over potentially surrendering the coveted 5 p.m. ET time slot on New Year’s Day that the Rose Bowl enjoys.

“As the only New Year’s Six bowl with an independent contract, we’re working to navigate our existing agreement,” Rose Bowl Management Committee chair Laura Farber told ESPN at the time. “While we’re willing to work through certain areas, we’ve maintained that an exclusive broadcast window on Jan. 1 at 2 p.m. PT is important to the Rose Bowl Game.”

Multiple outlets reported the CFP gave the Rose Bowl to the end of this week to agree to terms of the early expansion or risk being left out of the new CFP contract beginning in 2026.

While terms of the deal — including potential game times for future Rose Bowls — have not yet been made public, reports stated that with this agreement in hand, any remaining obstacles to announcing the early expansion are formalities and that an announcement of the early expansion could be made this week.

The other five bowl games under the CFP contract that previously agreed to the early expansion are the Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, Peach and Cotton.

–Field Level Media