We are just a few days away from Michigan football playing for the College Football National Championship. It would be the first national title since 1997 for the Wolverines and following their win in the Rose Bowl, they will meet Washington in Houston on Monday.
The Huskies are seeking their first national championship since 1991. It's going to be an epic matchup. One college football analyst, former Huskies QB Brock Huard, compared to to the Chiefs versus the Ravens. An elite offense against an elite defense.
The Rose Bowl was the biggest game in Michigan football history, but now this game supersedes that and here are the odds, how to watch, players to watch, and a prediction for Washington.
Michigan football vs. Washington odds
The Wolverines are a 4.5-point against Washington on Monday night in the CFP National Championship Game. That's according to DraftKings and the over/under is 56, while the money line is -192 for Michigan football and +160 for the Huskies.
How to watch the College Football Playoff National Championship
Date: Jan. 8
Game Time: 7:45 PM EST
How to Watch: ESPN | Fubo TV
Michigan football vs. Washington key players to watch
Washington has an elite offense. There's no question about that. But there are questions about the Washington defense. The Huskies have allowed more than 400 yards per game this season, as well as 4.4 rushing yards per game.
Washington allows 269 passing yards per game and those that think J.J. McCarthy is average or a "game-manager" will be for a surprise on Monday night.
However, Michigan is going to play bully ball. A great way to keep Michael Penix off the field is to feed the ball to Blake Corum 25-30 times. We haven't seen that much this season but that was by design. Corum looks as good and as fresh as ever.
Grind the clock and get this man in the end zone, because the Wolverines are 31-0 when Corum scores a rushing touchdown in his Michigan football career and I don't see that streak ending on Monday night.
Michael Penix Jr.
Michael Penix Jr. should have won the Heisman Trophy. I also think that he, like McCarthy, should be a top-10 pick in the NFL draft. Last week, he threw for 430 yards against Texas. He's averaged around 350 in the three games against Oregon and Texas, so even against good defenses, he's hard to stop.
Yet, Michigan football ranks third in opposing passer rating, while Texas ranked 49th in college football. Washington is elite at protecting the passer but much of that is Penix. He's great at making quick decisions and it's almost like trying to sack Drew Brees. The game plan will look much different than Alabama, but keeping Penix and the Huskies in check (under 30) is the key.
National Championship Prediction
As I wrote earlier this week, this is a good matchup for Michigan football. Washington doesn't have a very good run defense, plus the Wolverines were built to stop a high-flying pass offense. Washington is going to offer many of the same challenges that Ohio State has the past three seasons.
Washington is going to move the ball. I expect Penix to throw for over 300 yards. However, Michigan footbal will shorten the game with Corum. Think the 2021 Michigan-Ohio State game. Penix is going to have to be perfect and while he's great -- this is the best defense he's faced.
Jesse Minter will do enough to confuse him on the back end, plus the Michigan defensive backs are much better in coverage than any team Penix has faced this season. I'd argue that Michigan football has the best secondary/pass defense in college football.
The defense, the running game, and J.J. McCarthy will just be too much to overcome. It feels like destiny for these Wolverines and I have them winning a competitive game.
Michigan 34, Washington 24