ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Quarterback J.J. McCarthy‘s two years at Michigan have been defined by wins over archrival Ohio State, Big Ten championships and College Football Playoff losses.

As McCarthy prepares for his third season at Michigan and second as the starter, his goals are clear: Keep the first two trends going and reverse the results in the third category. Michigan, which had not made the CFP until 2021, is 0-2 in the event after semifinal losses to Georgia and TCU. The Wolverines are seeking their first national championship since 1997.

“That’s my ultimate goal,” McCarthy told ESPN on Tuesday. “I have a lot of goals, we have a lot of goals, but it’s to bring a national championship to Ann Arbor. We’re just so close.”

McCarthy, who took over as Michigan’s starter early in the 2022 season, set a career high with 343 passing yards against TCU. He accounted for three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing), a 2-point conversion and had a career-best 39-yard run. But he also had two interceptions returned for touchdowns as Michigan trailed 21-3 and 34-16 before falling 51-45.

Although McCarthy had appeared in Michigan’s CFP loss to Georgia, he played mostly in the second half with the game out of reach.

“[TCU] definitely hurt a whole lot more,” he said. “When I went in freshman year and we were playing the defense of the decade, it was kind of like, ‘All right, let’s see what I can do out here.’ Realistic expectation set in, like, ‘It’s going to be tough.’ But this TCU one, it was all in my hands. It was obviously a team effort, but I was in the driver’s seat. It’s a whole different pain that I’ve felt, and one that’s still driving me today.”

Before the TCU game, McCarthy had not thrown multiple interceptions all season and had accounted for four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) in Michigan’s win over Ohio State, the team’s second straight and first at Ohio Stadium since 2000. Michigan hasn’t beaten the Buckeyes in three straight seasons since 1995 to 1997.

In 2021, McCarthy was the backup quarterback and completed his only pass attempt as Michigan ended an eight-game losing streak to the Buckeyes.

“My 1A goal is bring a national championship to Ann Arbor; 1B is to never lose to [Ohio State],” McCarthy said. “That will mean a lot to me. From the guys that play scout team to the guys that are touching the ball every play, we have to be our best at all times. That’s not always going to look pretty, but we just got to keep pushing, keep pushing and growing in every aspect, and we’ll be where we want to be by Nov. 25.”

McCarthy has approached the offseason with a mantra of, “100 percent, 100 percent of the time,” making adjustments to his training and diet. He’s set to lead a Michigan offense that returns largely intact and will feature standout running backs Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards, and others.

“He’s locked in, you can see it in him, he wants to win,” offensive lineman Zak Zinter said. “You’re going to see the best version of him. He’s dynamic, he’s a playmaker, he can sit in the pocket and throw long gone like he showed at the end of the year. He can scramble out and make a play, throw while he’s running, he can take off and run the ball. He’s really an all-around threat.”

McCarthy remained on the field long after both of Michigan’s CFP losses, watching Georgia and TCU’s celebrations. He says experiencing pain and regret — “Sit in it, soak in it,” he said — is an important step to create motivation for future goals.

The postgame scene struck Michigan president Santa Ono, who says the Wolverines have three ingredients — talent, experience and hunger — to win a title this season.

“We have an enormous talent, everybody knows that, probably one of the best teams I’ve ever seen,” Ono told ESPN. “You have a much more experienced quarterback who learned from that TCU game. And the hunger part, all these players coming back, they want the national championship. For me, the image that’s most poignant, that illustrates that hunger in the games that they lost, when everybody else had gone back to the locker room, there was one guy looking at the other team win. That was J.J. McCarthy.

“He really wants this. Actually, we all really want this.”

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Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy says ‘ultimate goal’ is win title