Michigan’s way to nan College Football Playoff, connected nan field, was comparatively smooth. The Wolverines are 13-0 and participate their Jan. 1 Rose Bowl matchup pinch Alabama arsenic nan No. 1 seed.
Off nan section has been a different story. Head coach Jim Harbaugh was suspended by nan schoolhouse for nan first 3 regular-season games and by nan Big Ten for nan past three.
Michigan was hardly challenged until November and stepped up successful its biggest games. Below is simply a game-by-game recap of really Michigan made it to Pasadena.
East Carolina (Sep. 2): The opening statement
Many Michigan fans were scrambling to fig retired really to find Peacock, arsenic nan play opener against East Carolina was Michigan’s first-ever crippled connected a streaming-only platform. Those who were capable to watch witnessed a motion of things to come: a ascendant defense and highly businesslike backmost play successful a 30-3 triumph astatine Michigan Stadium.
J.J. McCarthy completed 26 of 30 passes pinch 3 touchdowns, each to wide receiver Roman Wilson, and Blake Corum added a touchdown connected nan ground. McCarthy wore a “FREE HARBAUGH” garment earlier and aft nan game, and he and nan remainder of nan discourtesy saluted their suspended coach by lining up successful a single-file statement and holding up 4 fingers (a reference to Harbaugh’s jersey number during his playing days) earlier a first-quarter snap. Defensive coordinator Jesse Minter was nan acting caput coach.
Michigan’s shutout bid ended connected an East Carolina section extremity pinch 3 seconds left. The Pirates vanished nan play 2-10.
UNLV (Sep. 9): A akin script
Michigan’s 2nd crippled looked a batch for illustration nan first, from nan people to nan stats, arsenic Michigan breezed past visiting UNLV 35-7. McCarthy was 22 for 25 and recovered Wilson for 2 touchdowns, while Corum ran for 3 scores. Special teams coach Jay Harbaugh was nan acting caput coach for nan first half and moving backs coach Mike Hart handled nan 2nd half.
The Rebels did not people until a 20-yard touchdown tally pinch 2:43 left. After location was immoderate mild interest complete nan Wolverines not registering immoderate sacks successful nan opener, they recorded 5 against UNLV. The Rebels ended up astonishing group pinch a 9-3 regular-season grounds and quality successful nan Mountain West title game, wherever they mislaid to Boise State.
Bowling Green (Sep. 16): Primetime vs. erstwhile Wolverine
Scot Loeffler, a erstwhile Michigan backmost and adjunct coach, brought his Bowling Green squad to nan Big House for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. The Falcons gave Michigan a first half scare, trailing by conscionable a constituent precocious into nan 2nd 4th and 14-6 astatine half earlier losing 31-6. McCarthy yet looked human, throwing interceptions connected back-to-back possessions (he vanished pinch three). In between, Michigan mislaid a fumble connected a kickoff return.
With Bowling Green’s starting backmost ruled retired earlier nan crippled and nan backup knocked retired early, Michigan’s defense took advantage, forcing 3 turnovers and holding nan visitors to conscionable 205 full yards. Michigan outscored Bowling Green 17-0 successful nan 3rd quarter. Offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore was Michigan’s acting caput coach successful nan last crippled (so we thought astatine nan time) without Harbaugh.
Rutgers (Sep. 23): A stunner, past a stomping
One infinitesimal into Michigan’s Big Ten opener, connected nan 3rd play from scrimmage, Rutgers deed a 69-yard touchdown connected a short slant walk to stun nan Michigan Stadium crowd. The Wolverines responded pinch 31 unanswered points for a 31-7 victory.
Harbaugh, in his 2023 debut connected nan sideline, could look astatine nan container people and smile: His squad cracked 200 yards connected nan crushed and done nan air. Mike Sainristil had an awesome 71-yard interception return for a score. Corum added 2 much rushing touchdowns to boost his full to 8 done 4 games.
Nebraska (Sep. 30): A complete husking
Any folks concerned astir Michigan’s discourtesy liked what they saw connected a basking day successful Lincoln. In their first roadworthy crippled of nan season, nan Wolverines shredded Nebraska for 436 yards successful a 45-7 win.
The Cornhuskers entered nan crippled pinch nan nation’s champion tally defense, and Michigan ran wild. The item of nan game, however, was Wilson’s touchdown drawback to unfastened nan scoring successful which he someway pinned nan shot to nan backmost of nan helmet of a defender arsenic they landed successful nan extremity zone.
Minnesota (Oct. 7): The Little Brown Juggernaut
Michigan’s defense outscored nan Minnesota discourtesy successful a primetime matchup successful Minneapolis. On nan 2nd play from scrimmage, Will Johnson intercepted a walk and returned it for a touchdown. Keon Sabb did nan aforesaid precocious successful nan 3rd quarter, and Michigan mauled nan Golden Gophers 52-10 to clasp nan Little Brown Jug. Minnesota managed conscionable 169 yards of offense
Indiana (Oct. 14): One heck of a run
It was difficult to judge afterwards, but Indiana really led successful this game. In fact, nan Hoosiers were nan first to lead against Michigan beyond nan first quarter. That was each easy forgotten aft Michigan’s 52-7 victory.
The Wolverines smothered some of Indiana’s quarterbacks and nan tally game, forcing 4 turnovers successful nan process. Michigan completed 19 of 22 passes, 4 of which went for scores (Jack Tuttle was 5 for 5 pinch a touchdown), while moving backmost Donovan Edwards recovered nan extremity area for nan first clip since nan erstwhile season’s Big Ten championship.
Michigan State (Oct. 21): A blowout for Bunyan
Two days earlier nan crippled astatine Michigan State, reports surfaced that Michigan was nether NCAA investigation for alleged improper scouting and filming opponents’ sidelines successful what became known arsenic nan sign-stealing scandal. The Spartans were made alert of nan allegations and, arsenic a result, supposedly changed nan measurement they signaled plays. Michigan suspended expert Connor Stalions.
The Wolverines played angry -- aliases astatine slightest very focused -- that Saturday nighttime astatine Spartan Stadium and won 49-0 for their first shutout since nan 3rd crippled of 2022 against Connecticut. A time earlier National Tight Ends Day successful nan NFL, Michigan’s tight ends were nan starring receivers, pinch A.J. Barner and Colston Loveland combining for 12 catches for 178 yards and 3 touchdowns arsenic Michigan kept nan Paul Bunyan Trophy.
Sainristil had different agelong interception return (72 yards) for a touchdown, giving Michigan 4 pick-6s against conscionable 3 passing touchdowns allowed connected nan season. The Spartans managed conscionable 10 first downs and 182 yards of offense. There were nary incidents aft nan game.
Purdue (Nov. 4): Dominant amid nan noise
Michigan had a bye week aft Michigan State, during which specifications dripped seemingly hourly astir nan sign-stealing saga. Stalions resigned. Certain Big Ten coaches reportedly demanded swift punishment.
The players blocked retired nan sound and delivered different beardown capacity connected nan field, beating Purdue successful a location nighttime crippled 41-13. Corum had 3 much short touchdown runs -- he’s money adjacent nan extremity statement -- and McCarthy threw for 335 yards, 143 of which went to Wilson. Purdue deed a 24-yard touchdown walk connected 4th down pinch 18 seconds near to scope nan extremity area for nan first time.
Penn State (Nov. 11): First superior test
As ascendant arsenic Michigan had been to this point, it was reasonable to statement nan schedule was not each that challenging. Penn State was classed No. 10 successful nan country, truthful a travel location was by acold nan biggest trial to day for nan Wolverines.
They passed, winning 24-15 contempt Harbaugh learning aft he’d arrived successful State College that he’d been suspended -- this clip by nan Big Ten -- for nan remaining regular-season games. (Moore filled successful arsenic acting coach.) The Wolverines, done their apparel and attitude, embraced “Michigan vs. Everybody.”
Michigan ran nan shot connected 32 consecutive violative plays to extremity nan game, not attempting an charismatic walk successful nan full 2nd half (the lone propulsion was wiped retired by protect walk interference). Edwards and Corum had scores of 22 and 30 yards, respectively, pinch nan second giving Michigan a 24-9 lead pinch 4:15 left.
Maryland (Nov. 18): Late-season scare
Michigan survived a scare successful its last crippled earlier The Game. Playing astatine Maryland, nan Wolverines sewage points from their offense, defense (fumble return), and typical teams (blocked punt for safety) successful a span of 1:47. They led 23-3, but Maryland capped 3 agelong drives pinch one-yard touchdown runs from its backup quarterback, who was specifically brought successful for QB sneaks. The past 1 trim Michigan’s lead to 29-24 entering nan fourth, but Michigan held connected for a 31-24 win.
Maryland was deed pinch its 2nd information -- this 1 for intentional grounding successful nan extremity area -- for nan game’s last points, and Sainristil had 2 second-half interceptions. Michigan had entered nan crippled outscoring opponents 117-0 successful nan 3rd 4th but yet cracked successful this one, allowing 2 touchdowns. This was Michigan’s NCAA-leading 1,000th win. No. 1,001 would beryllium moreover sweeter.
Ohio State (Nov. 25): Three successful a row
With Ohio State driving pinch a chance to win, Rod Moore’s interception astatine nan Michigan 21-yard statement group disconnected an eruption connected nan location sideline. Minutes later, galore fans would unreserved nan Michigan Stadium section to observe a 30-24 victory, Michigan’s 3rd consecutive complete nan Buckeyes.
Just for illustration nan past 2 years, a travel to nan Big Ten title was connected nan line. Both teams were 12-0, pinch nan Buckeyes classed 2nd and Michigan third. With nan convention expanding and doing pinch divisions adjacent play and nan playoff swelling to 12 teams, the stakes whitethorn ne'er beryllium higher than they were, astatine slightest successful nan regular season, successful this year’s type of nan rivalry.
Will Johnson’s first-quarter interception group up nan game’s first score, Roman Wilson had different item touchdown catch, and kicker James Turner was clutch each afternoon, hitting a 50-yard section extremity and a 37-yarder pinch 1:05 near for nan game’s last points. Once again, nan Wolverines were headed to Indianapolis.
Iowa (Dec. 2): A three-peat successful Indy
Iowa had nan country’s worst discourtesy (by yards per game), Michigan had nan champion defense (by points allowed), and nan Big Ten title went astir arsenic expected. Michigan won 26-0.
The Wolverines didn’t make a ton of offense, besides not terribly astonishing considering Iowa’s beardown defense. Four Turner section goals, 2 Corum touchdowns (giving him 55 for his profession and tying pinch Anthony Thomas for nan programme record), and 3 fumble recoveries were much than enough. Sainristil was nan game’s MVP.
Harbaugh returned to nan sideline and ended up connected nan winner’s shape astatine Lucas Oil Stadium again, though he fto violative lineman Zak Zinter -- who collapsed his limb against Ohio State -- judge nan title trophy from Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti.
Michigan’s triumph and Georgia’s nonaccomplishment to Alabama successful nan SEC title earlier that time pushed Michigan to No. 1 successful nan last playoff rankings, mounting up nan Rose Bowl showdown pinch Alabama.