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Dawg’s Preview: College Football Playoff National Championship #1 Michigan vs. #2 Washington

 

The Washington Huskies (14-0) and Michigan Wolverines (14-0) travel to NRG Stadium in Houston, TX to meet in the College Football Playoff. This will be the 14th meeting between the teams with Michigan holding an 8-5 edge over Washington. The last meeting was on September 11, 2021, a 31-10 Michigan win at the Big House.

 

Michigan -4.5 O/U 56.5

 


BROADCAST INFORMATION;

 

- Monday, January 8, 2024, 7:30 PM Eastern Time Kickoff on ESPN

- Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit will be on the call for ESPN while Holly Rowe and Molly McGrath will be on the sidelines.

- On the Washington side the radio broadcast will be on FM 93.3. On the Michigan side, the radio broadcast will be on AM 1050.

 

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

 

The winner is crowned the College Football Playoff National Champion. If Michigan wins this will be the Wolverines’ 12th claimed national championship. If Washington wins this will be the Huskies’ fifth claimed national championship.

 

KEY PLAYERS

 

Washington Offense by TJ Chapman

 

QB Michael Penix, Jr. – Finalist for the Heisman Trophy. Brings a completion percentage into the National Championship of 66.7%. Penix leads the nation with 4,648 passing yards and is third with 35 TDs while having thrown 9 INTs.



WR Rome Odunze – Has 87 receptions, is second in the nation with 1,553 receiving yards, and tied for sixth in the nation with 13 receiving TDs. Odunze finished 2nd in voting for the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s best wide receiver.

 

RB Dillon Johnson – So far has rushed for 1,162 yards, tied for 24th in the nation, and 16 TDs, tied for sixth nationally. Johnson went down with a lower-body injury very late in the Sugar Bowl win over Texas last week. But all indications are that he will play in the National Championship. The Huskies will need a healthy Johnson to balance out the Washington offense.

 

Washington Defense by Dominic Ambrose

 


EDGE Bralen Trice – For the Huskies, the defense centers around edge Bralen Trice. He has lived in opponents’ backfields leading the team in sacks with seven and generating 77 total pressures on the opposing quarterbacks.  He is a physical presence on the edge for the Huskies and shows a high motor with a quick first step to gain the advantage at the line.

 

LB Edufan Uolfoshi – His 90 tackles are second on the team behind Dominique Hampton (98).  Ulofoshio has a rare combination of size, athleticism, and speed that causes offenses to stay up late to gameplan for him.  He’s got great football instincts and a high motor that is relentless and plays through the whistle.

 

CB Jabbar Muhammad – He leads the team in interceptions with three, but the number that stands out is that he also leads the team with 15 pass breakups on the season. He’s got the fluidity in his hips and athleticism that NFL teams want in their cover corners.

 

Three Washington players have entered the transfer portal since the end of the regular season.

 

Michigan Offense by Dominick Crosetto

 

QB J.J. McCarthy – 2,851 yards 25 total touchdowns



RB Blake Corum – 1,111 yards 26 total touchdowns


WR Roman Wilson – 735 yards 12 touchdowns


The above list is rather obvious. Your typical ‘best QB, RB, & WR on the team’ type of list. But isn’t that the point? When your best players are also your best leaders, you’ve got a chance to be very good. Michigan has the chance to end its season undefeated and become the last national champion from the four-team CFP.

 

Michigan Defense by Mike Germanese

 

DB Mike Sainristil – Solo tackles 20, Assist Tackles 16, total tackles 36, Sacks 2, Sack yards 10, Passes Defended 6, Interceptions 5, Interception yards 151, Long 72, INT. TD’s 2, Forced Fumbles 2.

 

DB Will Johnson – Solo tackles 18, Assist Tackles 5, total tackles 23, Passes Defended 4, Interceptions 3, Interceptions yards 80, Long 36, INT. TD’s 1.

 

LB Michael Barrett – Solo tackles 36, Assist Tackles 25, total tackles 61, Sacks 3, Sack Yards 40, Passes Defended 2, Forced Fumbles 3, Fumbles Recovered 2.

 

Three Michigan players have entered the transfer portal since the end of the regular season.

 

KEY MATCHUP

 

TJ Chapman with Washington’s Offense and Mike Germanese with Michigan’s Defense

 

TJ Chapman: The potent Husky passing attack against the Michigan pass defense will be the most intriguing matchup. The Huskies lead the country in passing yards per game with 350.0, are 10th in scoring offense with 37.6 points per game, and 10th in total yards per game with 473.6. Michael Penix, Jr. has three receivers at his disposal who rival any receiver room in the country, including the room at Ohio State. Rome Odunze, Jalen McMillan, and Ja’Lynn Polk are dangerous and will test Michigan’s No. 2 ranked pass defense. With this strength versus strength matchup, something has to give! Running back Dillon Johnson, who was banged up in the Sugar Bowl win against Texas, will play. Johnson will need to get through a stingy Michigan run defense if the Huskies are going to win. Michigan ranks No. 8 in rushing yards per game with 93.1.

 


Mike Germanese: The Michigan secondary is led by Will Johnson and team captain Mike Sainristil. The pair of defensive backs will need to find a way to limit the talented Husky wideouts’ ability to make plays or Michigan will be in trouble. Washington will try to turn this game into a shoot-out, something Michigan’s secondary cannot afford to let happen. This is the best passing attack that Michigan will face all year, but Michigan has the best pass defense that Washington will face this season. Michigan comes in ranked No. 2 in defending the pass, giving up an average of 150.0 yards per game while having surrendered only seven touchdowns through the air. Michigan’s ability to shut down the passing game is one of the main reasons why the Wolverines are also the No. 1 scoring defense, allowing opponents a paltry 10.2 points per game.

 

KEY MATCHUP

 

Dominick Crosetto with Michigan’s offense and Dominic Ambrose with Washington’s defense

 

Dominick Crosetto: The Michigan offense is well-equipped to deal with what the Huskies will throw at them. McCarthy won’t need big downfield throws to attack the Washington defense. A slow ball possession game will fit the Wolverines just fine, as it will help keep a potent Washington offense off the field. Expect to see a large feature of Corum and McCarthy keeping the ball in their hands in this one, but a few quick outs to the WRs and TEs to keep the Huskies from stacking the box and trying to limit the run game will play to Big Blue’s advantage.

 

Dominic Ambrose: Heading into the game, the Husky's defense ranks 50th in the nation in points against, surrendering 23.6 points per game.  They also give up 263 yards in the air and 134 yards on the ground.  Michigan’s offense has been on a tear this season, averaging 36 points per game on 219 yards passing and 160 yards rushing. This will be the toughest test on the biggest stage for the Huskies’ defense. The trenches always matter, and the Wolverines have a great line protecting McCarthy and opening lanes for Corum.  They are one of the best in the country.  Can the defensive front of Trice, Zion Tupuloa-Fetui, and Voi Tunuufi generate pressure on McCarthy and free up the rest of the defense to cover the Wolverine's playmakers? The Huskies have generated 15.5 sacks and 32 tackles for loss from the defensive line.  Will they be able to get sacks on McCarthy, who has been sacked 18 times this season? 

 

PREDICTIONS - College Football Playoff

 

TJ Chapman

 

The Michigan defense will be the toughest that Washington has faced all season. However, Michigan has not seen an offense as powerful as the one they will see Monday against Washington. If this is the final season for the Pac-12, what a swan song this is going to be. Adding to my betting nugget from last week, Washington is now 5-0 outright as an underdog under head coach Kalen DeBoer. Give me Washington 33-27 as the Huskies will win their first National Championship since 1991! Same as last week, take Washington getting points and take the over.

 

Dominic Ambrose

 

Prediction - Washington wins 38-35. While this game could be a runaway, I see it being a close contest. And Washington's defense comes up huge. 

 

Dominick Crosetto

 

Ball control, time of possession, and the third-fewest penalties all favor the Wolverines in this one. Pair that with the top defense in the country and the Huskies better watch out!

Michigan – 34 Washington – 17

 

Mike Germanese

 

Washington heads to Houston looking to end its time in the Pac-12 with a bang. Washington has an electric offense with the question being can Michigan’s defense get enough stops to win the game? The answer is yes. Michigan’s best defense will be the ability of the offense to sustain drives, put points on the board, and keep the Washington offense off the field. The Michigan defense will win the turnover battle and find a way to bring enough pressure to make Penix uncomfortable.

Michigan 31 Washington 28

 

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