Why Michigan football is uniquely prepared to face Washington

The Wolverines history with Ohio State makes Washington a familiar matchup for Michigan football.

Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) looks for a pass in the fourth quarter of the
Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) looks for a pass in the fourth quarter of the / Sara Diggins/American-Statesman / USA
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Michigan football will play for the college football national championship next Monday following an epic Rose Bowl win over Alabama.

However, the job is not done. Michigan football needs one more win to end its 26-year national championship drought and standing in the way will be the Washington Huskies and superstar quarterback Michael Penix Jr.

Indeed, Michigan hasn't played a quarterback as good as Penix this season. However, that doesn't mean they won't be prepared for the challenge. You could argue that Michigan is uniquely built to face Washington because of its experience against Ohio State.

Penix is incredible. He threw for 430 yards against Texas. Even under pressure, he's exceptional at delivering an accurate football. The best comparison I have for him is C.J. Stroud. He also reminds me a lot of Drew Brees. But Stroud is the best recent college comparison.

And the good news is that Michigan was able to beat C.J. Stroud twice. It's what Jim Harbaugh built the defense to do in hiring Jesse Minter and Mike Macdonald. Washington has elite receivers too, but the Wolverines are used to that with Marvin Harrison Jr., Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, and others.

That doesn't mean stopping Washington will be easy. Stroud threw for well over 300 yards in both losses to Michigan. I expect Penix to throw for over 300 yards too. The key is going to be forcing Washington to kick field goals, while maybe forcing Penix into a mistake.

That's going to be easier said than done. Yet, Jesse Minter and Michigan know better than most how to slow down an explosive pass offense. Alabama's offensive line couldn't hold up against Michigan's. We'll see about Washington's.

A big difference is that Penix has the ability to make the Wolverines pay for blitzing. Alabama wasn't able to do that with Jalen Milroe. Will Johnson, Mike Sainristil, and Josh Wallace will need to be at the top of their game, along with the safeties who were spectacular against Alabama.

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The pass rush will be essential too. It's going to take all 11 guys and even then, I don't see Michigan football holding Washington down completely. That offense is just too good. But if the Wolverines can keep the Huskies in the 20s, as they did with Ohio State in 2021 and 2022, I like their chances.