Huskies Are Underdogs Once Again
Other teams came into the college football season viewed as bigger threats to win the national title than the Washington Huskies. However, none of that matters if Washington wins on Monday. The Huskies look to defy the college football odds one last time when they face favored Michigan in the College Football Playoff Championship Game.
It would be quite the story considering that this is the swan song for the Pac-12 with the majority of teams, including Washington, heading to other conferences at the end of the 2023-24 academic year.
No Pac-12 team has won the College Football Playoff since Oregon accomplished the feat in the first year of the CFP format back in 2014.
The college football betting lines have Michigan listed as a 4½-point favorite. However, Texas was favored against Washington in the semifinals and the Huskies took care of business.
When the season began, Washington was priced at +1200 to win the national title. Eleven of the 12 teams ahead of them in the college football future odds are done playing for the season.
The College Football Playoff championship game is set for Monday with the kickoff shortly after 7:30 p.m. It will air on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPNews. The game will be played at NRG Stadium in Houston.
Why the Washington Huskies Will Win
Offensive Playmakers Abound
Watching Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. carve up the Texas defense to the tune of 430 yards and an impressive 11.3 yards per attempt brought back memories of when LSU’s Joe Burrow was throwing to future NFL receivers Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson, and Terrace Marshall with Clyde Edwards-Helaire rushing for more than 1,400 yards as the Tigers scored 63 and 42 points in the two CFP games to finish 15-0.
Rome Odunze and Ja’Lynn Polk both topped 100 receiving yards in the win over Texas. Jack Westover and Jalen McMillan combined for 11 catches, 117 yards, and a touchdown. Germie Bernard is another option in the passing game.
The fact that the Las Vegas NCAAF odds have set the total at 56½, the highest for a Michigan game since the second game of the regular season, is an indication that Washington has the potential to make things difficult for the Michigan defense.
Penix began his career in the Big Ten at Indiana so he knows a thing or two about playing against Michigan. While injuries kept him out of three of the four games against the Wolverines, in his lone appearance against Michigan, he threw for 342 yards in a 38-21 win over the Wolverines in 2020.
Leading rusher Dillon Johnson had a quiet game against Texas. However, he still scored two touchdowns and had three catches.
This is an offense that looked unstoppable against Texas. Will the same be true versus a Michigan defense that hasn’t allowed 400 yards in a game this season?
Game Is Won Up Front
Washington won the Joe Moore Award given to the top offensive line in the country so that is an indication of what the Huskies have done this season playing in front of a Heisman Trophy finalist.
The Washington Huskies have the best offensive line in all of College Football. pic.twitter.com/0Vj5soMQxU
— B1G Dawg Energy (@B1GDawgEnergy) January 4, 2024
If Penix, who leads all Football Bowl Subdivision players with 4,648 passing yards, has time to survey the field, it can be a nightmare for any defense. If the pass protectors repeat the performance against Texas when the Longhorns had no quarterback sacks on 38 passing attempts by Penix and just three tackles for loss, scoring points shouldn’t be a problem.
All-American left tackle Troy Fautanu started 30 games over the last three seasons. Guard Julius Buelow is also a three-year starter. Fellow guard Nate Kalepo, and Roger Rosengarten (27 starts at right tackle in the last season) are proven pass blockers. Redshirt freshman Parker Brailsford completed the unit as he started two games at guard before finding a home at center.
The Huskies also received some positive news when Johnson, who has rushed for 1,162 yards and 16 touchdowns, looks good to go after being injured late in the win over Texas.
Take A Look At These Other 2 NCAAF Special Articles
- NCAAF Predictions: Why Michigan Will Win National Title.
- NCAAF Parlay: Go with Huskies To Strike First in CFP Parlay.
Close Shaves Are No Problem
Each of Washington’s last 10 games have been decided by 10 points or less so the Huskies know how to execute in high-pressure situations.
Since posting a 10-point win against USC and former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Caleb Williams, the Huskies have won by seven points against Utah, by two against Oregon State, posted three-point victories versus Washington State and Oregon, and then held on to top Texas 37-31.
Whether Washington gets up early or falls behind, there is a sense of calm with this team and that could serve the Huskies well on the biggest stage.
A Sign From Above?
There is a cloud hanging over the Michigan program because of the accusations of a staff member being sent on the road to do advancing scouting of potential opponents for the Wolverines and that is something that the NCAA has outlawed.
It is likely that Washington wasn’t viewed as a top challenger so perhaps Michigan doesn’t have the inside information on signs and tendencies that the Wolverines might have had on some other opponents.
The teams did play in 2021 but much has changed since then. Michigan might not have the advantage of the extra information due to the advanced scouting going into this game.
Out of Their Element
Michigan is fifth in the Big Ten in passing yards per game and 11th (out of 14 teams) with an average of 24.4 passing attempts per game.
The Wolverines love to lean on dynamic running back Blake Corum to control games.
What happens if Washington jumps out to the early lead?
If Michigan is forced to throw the ball, that might be a deal breaker.
J.J. McCarthy is being touted as a potential first-round NFL draft pick but he is not surrounded by as much talent at the receiver position as Penix has.
Questions Of The Day
Will Washington's veteran leadership be the difference?
There are plenty of proven playmakers on both sides of the ball who have led Washington to a 14-0 record and the Pac-12 title.
How will Washington handle the pressure of being a national championship contender?
More pressure figures to fall on favored Michigan than on Washington in the College Football Playoff Championship Game.