The Wolverine

February 2024

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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36 THE WOLVERINE ❱ FEBRUARY 2024 ❱ MICHIGAN FOOTBALL BY CLAYTON SAYFIE W ith nearly a month between their conference championship games, there was plenty of talk ahead of Michigan versus Alabama in the Rose Bowl, and much of it centered around the challenge the Wolverines would face in attempting to contain Alabama red- shirt sophomore quarterback Jalen Mil- roe, a dynamic athlete who had rushed for 468 yards and 12 touchdowns in the first 13 games. After the first half, the bigger ques- tion surrounded how Milroe would col- lect himself after facing so much pres- sure from the U-M defensive front. "The whole month leading up to the game, we heard everything about Ala- bama to the point where it felt like we didn't even deserve to be on the field with them, that we were going to be in- timidated the second we stepped on the field with them," senior defensive tackle Kris Jenkins said. "Not to take away from Alabama — they're a great team and they have a lot of great ball players — but ev- erybody was already counting us out be- fore we stepped on the field. "We definitely felt the need to prove everybody wrong and remind everybody what our team's about." Michigan notched 2 sacks on the opening drive and 5 for the first half, marking just the fourth time in head coach Nick Saban's tenure that the Crimson Tide had suffered 5 sacks in a half, according to ESPN. The Maize and Blue wound up with 6 quarterback take- downs from five different players and 9 tackles for loss for the game. Alabama mustered up only 288 total yards — the fewest it had posted in a game since a win over Clemson exactly six years earlier (Jan. 1, 2018) — and 1.5 points per drive in the 27-20 overtime loss. The Crimson Tide went three- and-out on five possessions and punted seven times. "We felt like we've been through a lot, and we were ready for this moment," said defensive coordinator Jesse Minter. "Our guys went after them and attacked them from the very first snap. I'm just super happy with how they played." ALABAMA QB STONEWALLED ON FINAL PLAY OF ROSE BOWL Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe av- eraged only 5 yards per pass and ran 21 times for 63 yards and no scores. Michi- gan held him in check all evening but had to do so one last time on fourth- and-goal from the U-M 3-yard line in overtime. All season long, Alabama had put the ball in Milroe's hands on key downs and/ Stout Michigan Defensive Front Feasts Against Alabama Crimson Tide Sophomore edge Derrick Moore (No. 8) celebrates after his sack of Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe. The U-M defense finished with a total of 6 sacks (from five different players) and 9 tackles for loss in the Rose Bowl. PHOTO BY DOMINICK SOKOTOFF

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