Preview & Prediction for Washington vs. Michigan in CFP National Championship

Bobby Albrant | Oregon Sports News

I don’t think there is much argument that Washington head coach Kalen DeBoer is a qualified winner of the national coach of the year honors in college football.

DeBoer took over a UW football program that had won just four games in 2021 and took it to consecutive double-digit winning seasons.

He now faces his biggest challenge as the Huskies take on the Michigan Wolverines in the national championship title game.

Washington has been a spectacular 25-2 in the past two years. However, the Huskies must now face a Michigan program that has been 39-3 over the past three.

The Wolverines have reigned atop my rankings without wavering since the middle of last September and have shown no signs of slowing down. In the past five games, the Wolverines have taken down Alabama, Ohio State, and Penn State.

The Huskies will bring plenty of offense behind a quick-pass aerial attack and running backs who are at least good enough to keep Michigan’s nickel defenders from cheating back to stop the pass.

Everyone expects UW’s Michael Penix Jr. to have a great game, especially Penix, who grumbled about not winning the Heisman Trophy despite falling well short of Jayden Daniels’ passing accuracy and rushing yardage.

Michigan will counter the star power of Penix with the nation’s number one overall defense and is ninth in the nation for intercepting passes, while Penix is 54th in giving up interceptions. Overall, the Michigan defense held nine opponents to ten points or less in the 2023 season behind an interior defensive line that averages more than 310 pounds.

Washington ball-handlers rank 84th for hanging onto the ball, while Michigan’s defense is 18th in the nation for takeaways.

Washington’s defense yielded more than 10 points 11 times in 2023. Wolverine defenders never allowed more than 24 points, while the UW defense gave up 24 or more seven times.

Bookmakers favor Michigan by 4 1/2 points. Savvygameline sees the Wolverines winning 29-27.

Regardless of whether Washington wins or loses, the PAC-12 is guaranteed to finish no worse than tied for second for bowl wins this season. Considering that independent teams only played in one bowl game, it would be fair to say that the PAC-12 earned at least a tie for the best bowl conference in FBS.

My final rankings have just three teams in the top 25 — second-ranked Washington, fourth-ranked Oregon and tenth-ranked Arizona.

My Savvy system equals bookmakers in determining over/under point spreads. It is 2% worse in projecting winners, but that is more than offset by Savvy’s 12% advantage in determining total game points.

In the regular season, the system was 1% better in projecting winners, 11 games better in determining point spread over/under, and a terrific 53 games better in determining over/under total game points.