Orlando, Fla. — The most significant moment for Michigan came just before halftime when Quinn Nordin made a 57-yard field goal to regain the advantage for Michigan in the Citrus Bowl.
But that would be the Wolverines’ last lead and final highlight.
Nordin made all three attempts in the first half, but that was part of the issue for the Wolverines — they relied on field goals and didn’t get touchdowns in a 35-16 loss to Alabama on Wednesday. Michigan finished the season 9-4 after dropping its final two games, including the regular-season loss to Ohio State.
The 57-yarder with no time remaining gave Michigan a 16-14 lead going into halftime. It was the longest field goal in Citrus Bowl history and tied Hayden Epstein (Nov. 2, 2001 against Michigan State) for the longest in Michigan history. He’s also tied with Epstein with four, 50-plus yard field goals.
“It was a tremendous kick,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. “He had been kicking the ball really well leading up to the game, hit three from that same spot in pregame and got a great snap and a great hold and had real good spin on the ball. He hit it perfect.”
Nordin has 39 made field goals, fifth all-time at Michigan. He and Jake Moody were in a kicking rotation for most of the season. He made his first field goal, a 38-yarder at Maryland, and then attempted all the kicks the final three regular-season games. He made all 10 of his attempts to end the season.
“It definitely gave us momentum to be up at half against them, it was pretty good,” linebacker Cam Gordon said of the lift Nordin gave Michigan in the Citrus Bowl. “But it just wasn’t enough. Even though we had the momentum, we had to come out and get a stop, and we couldn’t do that.”
Quarterback Shea Patterson said he had complete confidence in Nordin.
“Quinn is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever been around,” Patterson said. “He’s always in the weight room, he’s always in the training room getting better working on his game. Credit to him, he deserved all that today.”
There was a questionable penalty on Michigan end Aidan Hutchinson for roughing the passer on a third-down-and-10 incompletion by Alabama quarterback Mac Jones. That kept the drive alive for the Tide and two plays later, Najee Harris ran for his first of two touchdowns and a 14-13 lead.
“That was an interesting call,” McGrone said. “I didn’t think it was roughing passer, it was playing football. It is what it is.”
The Alabama standard
Michigan wanted desperately to reach 10 wins for the season — 10-3 looks better than 9-4 — but for Alabama, which finished the season 11-2 with the Citrus Bowl victory, it’s about playing for national titles.
“I know most people would think that 10-2 was a good season. That's not necessarily our standard,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “The fact that previous to this year we have been in seven of the last 10 championship games, eight playoffs out of 10, we sort of started to develop a little bit of a reputation of, if we weren't in the playoffs, we didn't play very well in the bowl games. And I think that every player can create value for how he plays and there's a tremendous amount of value that your team creates by maintaining the culture of how they play in the last game and how they finish the season and how that carries over, that culture carries over into next season, especially with the young players.
“I think there's a lot of value (to these bowl games). I think that the interest level — I hope, you, as media folks, who put so much into the playoffs, and rightfully so, that we can continue to have bowl games that are a positive reinforcement because they are important enough for people to be interested in because you all promote interest for the players and the games.”