Alabama slugged it out with Michigan for more than 60 minutes but came up short on Monday evening at the Rose Bowl. The SEC champions lost their College Football Playoff semifinal matchup against the Wolverines 27-20 in overtime. It’s not that the Crimson Tide lost to the No. 1 team in the country, that’s disturbing, it’s how it happened that’s the problem. Alabama’s final play call was absolutely atrocious.
Michigan got the ball to start overtime with the score tied at 20. Jim Harbaugh’s squad quickly found the end zone on two plays, capped by a 17-yard run by Blake Corum. Alabama then got the ball on Michigan’s 25-yard line to start its drive and something felt off from the start.
Quarterback Jalen Milroe had a one-yard pass to Kendrick Law on first-and-10, then ripped off a 15-yard run run down to Michigan’s 9-yard line. That’s when things got dicey. On first-and-goal, running back Jase McClellan was stuffed for no gain. On second down, McClellan was hit for a five-yard loss back at Michigan’s 14-yard line. The Tide had their backs against the wall. On third down, Milroe hit Jermaine Burton for an 11-yard gain up the right sideline. That gave Alabama fourth-and-goal at the 3-yard line.
Michigan called a timeout after seeing Alabama’s alignment, then Alabama called timeout after seeing Michigan’s alignment, so both sides got to talk things over. Then Alabama lined up again and ran one of the dumber plays I’ve ever seen in a big moment.
Yep, they ran a quarterback draw right into the middle of Michigan’s defensive front. I’m sure we’re all shocked that it got stuffed for nothing.
Alabama’s offensive line had been dominated by Michigan’s defensive line for most of the game. While the Tide did run for 172 yards, it took 43 attempts to get there. On top of that, Michigan sacked Milroe six times and recorded 10 tackles for loss. Make all the excuses you want about the low snap blowing the play up, but it was never going anywhere. And if you do want to talk about the snap, center Seth McLaughlin had been all over the place with his snaps for the entire game, so running a play that relies on him performing perfectly was the height of stupidity.
Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Tommy Rees have a lot of explaining to do. From three yards out, they should have gotten Milroe to the perimeter where he could read things and either try to run it in or pass it. Instead, they sent him right into the teeth of Michigan’s defense, which had own Alabama’s offensive line all day. There is absolutely no justifying that play call.