The dust has settled from an incredible College Football season, and now it’s down to just two teams remaining. Michigan has been criticized publicly by the fans and press, with head coach Jim Harbaugh missing games to do suspension on two separate occasions. Credit to the Wolverines for not allowing outside distractions to affect the locker room it only made them tighter as a unit. Washington has been an underdog that keeps overachieving as it did throughout the season, overlooked as a PAC-12 team in the country’s Northwestern corner.
Michigan was on cruise control most of the season, dominating the competition without fully showing their poker hand. Washington started with a big bang but seemed to be running out of fuel down the season’s stretch, only to ramp it back up when it counted most versus Texas and in the rematch with Oregon. This will be a style matchup of complete opposites, with Michigan wanting to ground and pound, relying on their elite-level defense & winning in the trenches on both sides. The Huskies prefer to attack aggressively through the air with a loaded pack of receivers and a flame thrower of a QB in Michael Penix Jr.
Offence against defense is a key, no doubt when it comes to breaking down who will become the national champ. The Huskies wide receiver room is chock full with names like Rome Odunze, Ja’Lynn Polk, Jalen McMillan, and Germie Bernard. The deepest room in the country this year will be difficult to contain and damn near impossible to shut down. Michigan’s defense is better than Texas’s at creating pressure and, more importantly, where it counts in the secondary. Guys like Mike Sainristil, Will Johnson, Makari Paige, and Rod Moore are all 6 feet or taller than Sainristil. The cornerback room is super deep, with a few names missing, like Keon Sabb and Josh Wallace.
Washington’s running game has improved on the back of RB Dillion Johnson, who’s helped balance out the play-calling to an extent. Speaking of ground attack, as everyone knows, this is the Wolverine’s bread and butter. The all-time rushing touchdown record for Michigan belongs to Blake Corum. Corum won’t wow you with his speed, but his vision and tough-as-nails approach to the position has a throwback vibe. Unless it truly is an injury issue, the big head-scratcher still is Donavan Edwards, a great counter to Corum with his explosive capabilities.
At quarterback, far and away, Huskies signal caller Penix Jr. is the better of the two, but that doesn’t mean J.J. McCarthy is chopped liver. Last Monday, Michael Penix Jr. dropped dime after dime all over the field, with his WRs winning the 50-50 balls. On the other hand, McCarthy was inconsistent, missing a few run-of-the-mill passes and not throwing a consistently accurate ball. Against Ohio State, this College Football podcaster thought he had a much better game, making the needed throws and a few plays with his feet in crucial spots. We did see that late when it counted in the semifinal.
Washington’s defense is not on a championship level, but it should be noted the Huskies have made strides in the second half of the season. UW is 53rd in scoring defense and 94th in total defense. UM is 70th in total offense but 14th in scoring offense. A possible separating stat is turnover margin, with Washington tied for 53rd in the country and Michigan 2nd overall. The highlight reel chunk plays that Washington produces are easy on the eyes, but Michigan’s offense is a bit undervalued. The Wolverines offense is not only just as efficient as Washington’s overall, but it is basically in the same spot ranking-wise for third-down conversions.
Washington will get their points and yards with the major piece to the puzzle is the number of possessions on offense. No Michigan defense won’t erase the Huskies offense (although ASU almost did), but a third down stop here, turnover on downs there, and a fumble or interception are all Michigan needs to win this game. On the flip side, we can expect U of M to sustain drives, keeping that Huskies juggernaut on the sidelines holding their helmets.
Let us not forget this Michigan defense was built to do just enough to slow down the Ohio State offense. Yes we know the Buckeyes QB this year wasn’t all that great but the guy in 2022 is currently tearing up the NFL. Two years ago Ohio State had not one but two 1000 plus yard receivers and an elite level QB. Yes 2023 is a different year but 4 out of the 5 secondary players are back and better at the end of the day. The live reps and success at beating OSU is the blueprint to beating Washington. Unless J.J. McCarthy craps the bed as he did versus TCU or Michigan’s special teams lay’s another egg, the Wolverines will claim their first championship title since 1997.
The Pick: Michigan -3.5
Written by Chris Carlson Host of The College Ball Show Podcast available at blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio & Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio
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