This week marks the end of our short little series featuring the plays and moments that the Michigan Wolverines will remember from their 2023 season. In case you missed it, the first part focused on teams ranked 10–6. It ended with the emotional reaction of acting head coach and incoming full-time head coach Sherrone Moore following the team’s win over Penn State.
This week, we’re going to dissect five plays from three of the final four games of the season: The Game versus Ohio State, the Rose Bowl overtime thriller over Alabama, and the national championship victory over Washington.
Let’s bend down and celebrate Jim Harbaugh and his team’s incredible season.
5. Blake Corum TD run after Zinter injury against Ohio State
Almost all Michigan fans will be chilling for the rest of the season after this one. A College Football Playoff berth was at stake in a tie game against the Ohio State Buckeyes late in the third quarter. The team’s best offensive lineman, Zak Zinter, is injured in the leg, and it looked bad right away. The cart was brought out to remove Zinter, the soon-to-be unanimous first-team All-American, from the field for the last time in Ann Arbour as the medical staff rushed onto the field.
As Zinter was being carried off the pitch, the thick hush gave way to a roar of cheers from every Michigan fan packed into the Big House. Though the already famous career was finished, there was still a very real chance of winning a national championship. In the face of difficulty, like the club had done throughout the season, they stayed focused, and a man led by example.
The next play, Blake Corum took the ball left, cut short to avoid a tackle, and found himself facing just green grass.
A season-defining moment occurred when Corum honoured Zinter by flashing the 6-5 with his hands, causing the Big House to erupt in cheers.
The FOX broadcast’s colour analyst, Joel Klatt, was astounded by the players’ and spectators’ displays of fraternity and emotion. Something about this squad is what makes it so unique:
4. Rod Moore’s INT to beat Ohio State
Michigan launched one of its famous “Beat Ohio” drives, which have destroyed the Buckeyes in the previous three meetings, late in the fourth quarter of The Game. The Wolverines led by three points going into a 13-play, 56-yard drive that took up seven of the final eight minutes of play. With one minute remaining, James Turner’s 37-yard field goal gave Michigan a 30-24 lead.
Ohio State had no timeouts left and needed to score a touchdown to win, starting on its own 19-yard line. Marvin Harrison Jr. gained 22 yards after McCord’s deep pass. He then sent a strike to Julian Fleming, who gained an additional 21. With twenty-five seconds remaining, the Buckeyes were unexpectedly in Michigan territory, posing a threat.
The Ohio State quarterback Kyle McCord was given a free shot by Wolverines defensive lineman Jaylen Harrell, and the Wolverines would defeat the Buckeyes to have a crack at championship glory.
The way the season ended for the maize and blue was perhaps the most significant in the rivalry’s history, as well as the most thrilling finish to Michigan’s three-win streak over the Buckeyes.
3. 4th-and-goal stop to beat Alabama in the Rose Bowl
In the Rose Bowl, an instant classic between Michigan and the Alabama Crimson Tide ended with Michigan ahead in overtime.
Jalen Milroe carried the ball 21 times for 63 yards during the game, showing his penchant of using his legs to advance the ball. During the second play of the Crimson Tide’s drive, he gained 15 yards, giving him the chance to repeat the feat in overtime.
In response, though, the Wolverines stuff Jase McClellan on several attempts, including a five-yard loss on second-and-goal. With Alabama backed up to the 14-yard line, Milroe found Jermaine Burton via a corner route. Whether Michigan would advance to the national championship or face another round in overtime would be determined by a single play from the three-yard line.
There was pressure coming from almost all directions. Because the defensive interior held its ground, Mike Sainristil covered the outside, and Josaiah Stewart smashed on the left side, making the tackle.
After winning a Rose Bowl College Football Playoff game, the Wolverines were on their way to the national championship and had finally broken through.
2. Mike Sainristil’s INT to seal National Title win
Donovan Edwards’ two touchdowns to start the game gave Michigan a one-score advantage for much of the second and third quarter, but after that, it seemed like Michigan was going to win the national championship.
However, the game isn’t over until the fat lady sings, and Michigan’s lacklustre offensive achievement in the second half nearly gave Michael Penix Jr. and the Huskies a chance to win it again. With seven minutes remaining, Washington had a two-touchdown benefit, but there was still cause for concern as they carried the ball slowly into Michigan territory.
It was the instant Michigan players and supporters realised their season was over and they would win the national championship.
1. Blake Corum’s Rose Bowl run for OT TD
How can you top that instance? Only when the Grandaddy of Them All, a famous player, produces the play of his career in overtime.
Corum ran a terrific race here. He may have been tackled in the backfield, but this was a gritty, furious run in the end. The most memorable play of the season began with an incredible juke to the outside, dodging a push from the middle. It seemed like nothing could stop this team when he made this absurd play in overtime.
These Wolverines were definitely a squad made for destiny, and after Corum completed this run that turned out to be the game-winning touchdown in the Rose Bowl, it seemed like we could start making that claim.
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