Michigan offense goes dormant after starting fast, springs back to life late to put away Huskies

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Michigan running back Blake Corum is tackled by Washington during the first half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game Monday, Jan. 8, 2024, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

HOUSTON – Michigan looked as if it would run away from Washington early in the College Football Playoff championship game Monday night.

But the Wolverines mostly plodded along until they put together a 71-yard drive that put them up two touchdowns midway through the fourth quarter of a 34-13 victory.

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Blake Corum, Donovan Edwards and the linemen in front of them looked poise to make fast work of the Huskies. The pair led a ground game that generated 174 yards in the first quarter.

Edwards' first two carries went for touchdowns of 41 and 46 yards and Corum broke a 59-yard run to end the quarter that set up a field goal for a 17-3 lead.

The only other team with three runs of 40-plus yards in a playoff game was Georgia in the 2018 semifinal against Oklahoma at the Rose Bowl, according to Sportradar. Michigan is the only team to do it in a half.

The Wolverines' opening three possessions netted 235 on 17 plays.

The next seven produced just 115 yards on 29 plays with three three-and-outs.

Washington made adjustments to plug the middle, where Corum and Edwards found huge holes in the first quarter, and offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore went conservative once the Wolverines had the lead.

“We started off really hot. Everything was clicking,” quarterback J.J. McCarthy said. “I feel like we got to points in the game we were beating ourselves. I was missing throws, I was missing some reads.”

Washington was unable to capitalize, and Michigan's offense came out of dormancy when it got the ball back with just under 10 minutes to play. J.J. McCarthy connected with Colston Loveland for 41 yards and with Roman Wilson for 12 before Corum scored from the 3.

“Coaches always say playmakers always have to make plays, and don't wait on anyone else to make plays,” Corum said. "Today was a complete, complete effort. So many people making plays out there."

Thanks to the fast start, Michigan finished with a season-high 303 yards rushing and 443 total.

Corum finished with 134 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries and Edwards had 104 yards and two TDs on six carries. It marked the first time a team had two rushers go over 100 yards in a CFP title game.

Fans watching from home complained on social media that Michigan’s offensive line got away with several holding calls. The flags never came, and by night’s end, the Wolverines were holding the national championship trophy.

The game marked a resurgence for Edwards, who turned in monster games late last season when Corum was out because of injury.

Edwards' season high coming into the game was 52 yards on 10 carries against Penn State.

“I was so excited for Donovan because I just felt like he needed that,” Corum said. “He’s back. ‘Dono’ is back.”

McCarthy is Edwards' roommate, and he said he knows Edwards has struggled mentally with the yards not coming as easily this season.

“Just knowing everything he goes through behind the scenes and just the man he is on a day-to-day basis," McCarthy said, "this couldn’t have been a better moment for him to show out and show the world who he really is.”


AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-football

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