Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh has not been afraid to rattle the cages of rivals during his time in the NFL and as a college football coach. Harbaugh could be ready for the ultimate troll job by winning the national title in the same year when he is being accused of not being fully cooperative with NCAA investigators.
Michigan will be in the spotlight and sure to make college football news even as the Wolverines roll past outmatched opponents while Harbaugh serves an in-house three-game suspension. The season starts on Saturday with Navy and Notre Dame meeting in Dublin, Ireland, so what better time than the present to look at some college football odds and make some picks for the College Football Playoff field?
It is hardly a surprise to see the Las Vegas odds favoring two-time defending national champion Georgia to win the national title. Here’s how I see the 2023 season possibly playing out.
Sugar Bowl: No. 1 Georgia vs No. 4 Alabama
It can be hazardous to your health to overlook the Alabama Crimson Tide. Yes, a new quarterback is needed to replace Bryce Young and there were some other key losses to the NFL.
However, Nick Saban didn’t become one of the most successful coaches in college football history by mistake. He has had months to get ready for a revenge tour after two narrow losses kept the Crimson Tide out of the SEC championship game and College Football Playoff. Who better to deny Georgia the opportunity for a third straight national title than SEC rival Alabama?
When looking at the college football betting lines, Georgia (+225) and Alabama (+600) currently have the best odds to win it all. Alabama will get a boost from the top-ranked recruiting class and Georgia could be vulnerable after losing more defensive stars to the NFL.
An early non-conference game against Texas might be a little tricky for Alabama. However, that game is in Tuscaloosa as are the rematches with LSU and Tennessee.
Georgia might not get tested until back-to-back games against Ole Miss and Tennessee in November.
Rose Bowl: No. 2 Michigan vs No. 3 Southern California
Teams from the Big Ten and the Pac-12 in the Rose Bowl? Where do I sign up for that?
Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams did just about everything but lead USC to the College Football Playoffs in his first season with the Trojans. Look for him to rectify that this season.
Michigan also brings back its starting quarterback in J.J. McCarthy as well as two elite running backs. Harbaugh used the transfer portal to plug some holes in the offensive line and the defense should be nasty once again.
While conference rivals Ohio State and Penn State as well as SEC powers Georgia and Alabama have to break in a new starting quarterback, that is not the case for Michigan.
It would be great theater for Williams and USC to face Michigan in its final game in the Pac-12 before joining the Wolverines in the Big Ten next season.
Michigan is an even-money pick according to the college football spreads to reach the College Football Playoffs and the lessons learned in the semifinal loss to TCU could come in handy.
National Championship: No. 2 Michigan vs No. 4 Alabama
Running back Blake Corum went down in Michigan’s win over Ohio State. He missed the Big Ten title game and was sidelined for the semifinal loss to TCU. He put the NFL on the back burner for a year to come back and lead Michigan to the national title. He is undervalued at +2800 odds to win the Heisman Trophy. Keep an eye on how the sportsbook adjusts his Heisman odds as the season moves on.
He had eight straight 100-yard rushing games at the time of his season-ending injury and people will soon be reminded of how special of a back he is.
A Michigan-Alabama game will not be for the faint of heart with physical teams ready to rumble.
The post-game trophy presentation could resemble what happened when former NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle had to hand his bitter rival Al Davis of the Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders the Super Bowl trophy. Harbaugh would be loving every bit of it.
There is some work that needs to be done and it seems likely to see teams from the Big Ten making it into the CFP field for the second year in a row. Michigan may need to run the table to get that invite. There is more than enough talent on both sides of the ball for that to happen and for Harbaugh to be holding up the national championship trophy on Jan. 8, 2024 in Houston.