The real winners on the first day of 2024 were college football fans with two thrilling College Football Playoff semifinal matchups on New Year’s Day. Michigan won in overtime against Alabama while Washington had to make a late defensive stand to top favored Texas.
The national championship game is set with the college football betting lines listing Michigan as a 4½-point favorite against Washington. The total has been set at 55½.
When the season began, Michigan was fourth at +850 in the odds of winning the national title. Washington was tied for 13th at +4000.
The last time the teams met, Michigan won 31-10 on Sept. 11, 2021, as a 6½-point favorite. The game landed under the 47½-point total.
Michigan was second behind two-time defending national champion Georgia in both the Associated Press and American Football Coaches Associated polls when the season began. Washington was 10th in the AP poll and 11th in the coaches poll.
Overtime Changes Everything
Even with a late line movement that saw Michigan go off as a 2.5-point favorite, the Wolverines were in danger of losing the game outright and failing to cover as Alabama had 90 seconds to work with and one of the best kickers in college football.
Will Reichard had already made field goals of 50 and 52 yards in the game with room to spare, so if Alabama could get the ball to the Michigan 35, the Crimson Tide would turn to their star kicker to boot Michigan out of the College Football Playoffs.
However, Alabama never got the ball into Michigan territory on its final drive of the fourth quarter.
Michigan survived a near season-ending miscue on the ensuing kickoff return and took the lead in overtime on Blake Corum’s second touchdown of the game.
The game came down to one final play with the ball in the hands of Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe and the Crimson Tide three yards away from the touchdown that would have left Alabama an extra point away from sending the game into a second overtime.
Milroe ran into the middle of the Michigan line and never had a chance to reach the end zone as the Wolverines celebrated a 27-20 win.
For the first time since Ohio State rolled past Oregon in the inaugural College Football Playoff championship game on Jan. 12, 2015, there will not be an SEC team playing for the national title.
A Look At the Totals
If Alabama had given Reichard a chance to win the first of the two CFP semifinals with a walk-off field goal, the Rose Bowl would have finished under the Las Vegas odds total of 45½.
However, when Corum broke free for his 26th touchdown of the season, the game landed over the total.
Michigan Touchdown King 👑
— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) January 2, 2024
There was no such drama in the Sugar Bowl.
The total opened at 64 but fell to 61½ a few hours before the opening kickoff.
Adonai Mitchell’s 1-yard touchdown catch with 7:23 left to play and Bert Auburn’s extra point not only pulled Texas within six points, it sent the game over the total.
Each team added a field goal for good measure as Washington won 37-31.
Let’s Give Out Some Props
Those playing the props had to be loving life late in both games.
In the Michigan-Alabama game, one prop drawing plenty of action was Corum scoring at least two touchdowns. It looks like he would end the game with one touchdown.
That all changed when the game went into overtime.
In the Texas-Washington game, an injury to Washington running back Dillon Johnson resulted in the clock being stopped.
Texas had one last chance to try to steal the game away.
Quarterback Quinn Ewers was well short of the 298 passing yards needed that would have allowed those who bet online to cash in on the +102 odds set by our sportsbook for Ewers to hit that mark.
A 41-yard completion to Jordan Whittington put Ewers over 300 yards.
About the Title Game
The national title game will be held at NRG Stadium in Houston with a pair of 14-0 teams going head-to-head.
The game is set to start shortly after 7:30 p.m. ET and will air on the various ESPN platforms.
One major concern for Washington was seeing Johnson injured late in the Huskies’ win.
Johnson leads Washington with 1,162 rushing yards. The next closest player is Will Nixon with 194 yards.
A Look At the Numbers
Michigan has been favored in every game this season while Washington is 3-0 outright as an underdog.
Michigan is 8-5-1 against the college football spread compared to a 7-6-1 mark for the Huskies. Washington did cover in each of its three games when listed as the underdog.
Both teams have seen 14 games finish over the total so far this season.
Questions Of The Day
Which team is favored in the College Football Playoff championship game?
After its overtime win over Alabama and Washington holding off a late rally by Texas, Michigan was listed as a 4½-point favorite in the national title game.
Are there any injury concerns for Michigan and Washington?
Washington leading rusher Dillon Johnson was injured late in the win over Texas. Michigan’s All-American offensive lineman Zak Zinter is out for the season.