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Washington Huskies @ Michigan Wolverines (-4.5)
Monday, January 8, 2024 - 7:30 PM ET
The Washington Huskies take on the Michigan Wolverines in the National Championship game in Houston, Texas. Both teams come into this game almost fully healthy. The Michigan Wolverines have complete alignment in culture, identity, and scheme. They want to lineup across from you, beat you up, and break your will over the next 60 minutes. They are a very tough and physical team on both sides of the ball. RB Blake Corum is the heart and soul of this team. They follow his lead. While his overall efficiency and rushing numbers were down from last year, he was able to grind out tough yards and score 25 TDs. Texas RBs ran at will on the Washington defense, averaging 6.8 YPC on the ground. Washington’s defensive rushing success rate was 51 percent, which was one of the worst marks in all FBS this year. Michigan holds a decisive advantage in this area that will be hard for the Huskies to overcome. Defensively, this Michigan unit is truly special. They are at least top 8 in every meaningful statistical category. They are number one in points per game (9.5). This is a dominant unit that will make life very difficult for the Washington Huskies.
However, the Washington Huskies seemed to thrive as the underdog. Their passing offensive success rate is 53%, which is one of the best in the country. Their receiving corps is the best in the country and is fully healthy, as Texas found out after giving up 430 yards passing in their last game. Michigan is going to have to put pressure on Michael Penix in order to slow down this passing attack. Luckily, the Wolverines’ defense has a 21 percent havoc rate, which is one of the best rates in college football. They are especially good at creating havoc in their secondary, where they intercepted 16 passes and disrupted 46 more heading into the playoffs.
TL;DR: It seems like any way you slice or dice this matchup, you end up coming to the conclusion that Michigan has some clear decisive advantages in this game on both sides of the ball. However, Washington has found ways all year to overcome deficiencies and to play to their one elite strength, their passing attack. Our staff is evenly split down the middle in this game. Ultimately, a majority of us think Washington covers the spread, but Michigan wins its first National Championship since 1997.