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Postgame/Late shift open thread

Michigan 27, Alabama 20 (OT)

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl-Alabama at Michigan Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama had its chances, but in the end lost in the College Football Playoff semifinal round for the first time since 2014. It was an exciting, mistake-filled affair as both extremes of this Alabama squad showed up at various times.

To say that the first half was ugly in this one would be an understatement. If not for a gifted short field via muffed punt and subsequent explosive run to the end zone by Jase McClellan, the Tide would have gone into halftime in rough shape. As it was, Michigan led 13-10 and had thoroughly whipped the Tide up front on both sides of the football.

Jalen Milroe looked less sure of himself than he has in some time, Michigan did a relatively good job of keeping him in the pocket, and the Tide offense was pretty well neutered for most of the half. The defense only looked marginally better, allowing two long touchdown drives. Still, thanks to the aforementioned muff, bad snap on a Michigan extra point try and 50 yard field goal by Will Reichard, the Tide went into the break trailing only by three at 13-10.

After a dubious decision to run the ball out of the end zone led to poor field position, Alabama had a fine drive going to open the second half. Justice Haynes got some action sporting a massive elbow brace and ripped off a couple of nice runs. Jase McClellan got around the edge for a first down to cross midfield, and Alabama was cooking.

If that sounds like a perfect moment for Seth McLaughlin to lose 20 yards on a bad snap, then lose a few more with a second bad snap, then you’ve watched this team at both its best and its worst. The two teams traded punts after that, and went into the fourth quarter with the scoreboard unchanged but Alabama driving.

On the first play of the fourth, Milroe hit a QB counter for a big gain down to the Michigan 2. McClellan promptly punched it in around the right edge, and Alabama led 17-13. The defense, which came out of the locker room playing with its collective hair on fire, forced yet another punt and Alabama was in prime position, starting at their own 33 with a 4 point lead.

But this Alabama team can’t just make things easy on themselves. Milroe took off around the left edge for what looked like a simple, routine gain. Unfortunately he began to lose his footing and ended up fumbling the ball back to the Wolverines. All of a sudden, Michigan was in position to potentially take the lead.

The defense managed to stand up one more time however and, aided by an ill-fated flea flicker call that put the Wolverines in 3rd and 17, forced a 49 yard field goal attempt that thankfully went wide left. Alabama managed to put another drive together but stalled out after the first sack of the second half, and Will Reichard absolutely drilled a 52 yard field goal to put the Tide up 20-13 with just under six minutes left. Alabama needed one more stop from the defense to move on to the national title game.

Alas, that stop was not to come. Michigan promptly moved the ball right down the field, the alabama defense looking lost after shutting out the Wolverines to that point of the half. The game was tied at 20, Alabama’s offense fizzled out, and after another muffed punt recovered by the Michigan returner at his own 1 yard line, the game headed to overtime.

Sadly for the Tide, overtime more closely resembled the first half than the second. Michigan’s offensive line promptly gashed Alabama for a two play touchdown drive. Alabama was unable to match, and the season was over. Fittingly, the last snap of the game was low, but that didn’t affect the play. A flawed but fun team that had come so far after being written off early in the season just didn’t quite get it done on the biggest stage.

The second semifinal, featuring Washington vs Texas in the Sugar Bowl, kicks off in a few minutes on ESPN if you are so inclined.

Roll Tide.