CA—PASADENA Michigan defensive linemen Kris Jenkins and Cam Goode sat side by side in the Rose Bowl's north end zone with long-stem roses, grass stains on their jeans, and maize and blue confetti at their feet
They were celebrating Monday's 27-20 overtime triumph over Alabama, a hard-fought national semifinal win that proved the Wolverines don't need to cheat to defeat the best in college football.
“They can’t make excuses now,” Jenkins added. “No movies, iPads, nothing. Fair and square." Goode continued with a weary smile, “Fair and square against ‘Bama.
Michigan heard the murmurs about Conor Stalions and his sign-stealing spies since the football world learned about them. Rival supporters wonder how the Wolverines won so many games the past two seasons without illegally recorded intelligence.
Anonymous opposing coaches said the Wolverines looked weaker late in the season without knowing blitzes were coming. Alabama even banned athletes from bringing iPads home to examine practice tape for security.
Michigan responded to those criticisms with a sloppy but thrilling comeback win over Alabama. The top-seeded Wolverines rallied from a seven-point fourth-quarter deficit and stopped Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe's fourth-and-goal run in overtime to get a title chance against Washington in Houston next Monday.
“It’s almost been an unfair advantage, all the things that this team has gone through,” Harbaugh said. We're done caring. Forget what others say. Do not worry about anything. Just know we'll conquer it."
Alabama and Michigan have different stakes in a national semifinal that could send either team to next week's title game. Alabama may have more chances to add to Nick Saban's trophy cabinet. This season might be Michigan's last chance to win a title.