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CFP National Championship: Do Sportsbooks Favor Michigan or Washington?

With both teams boasting undefeated records heading in, our friends over at FanDuel help us break down the CFP National Championship with the latest odds, analysis, and best bet.

This article originally appeared at FanDuel Research.

The 2023-24 college football season will be the final campaign before we see rampant conference movement in addition to a playoff expansion. And believe you and me, this year has certainly lived up to the hype.

For the passing holiday weekend’s pivotal CFP action, we were privy to two intensely competitive semifinal contests. With the dust now settled, we are left with a meeting of undefeateds in next Monday’s title game: the Washington Huskies (14-0) and Michigan Wolverines (14-0).

Naturally, the upcoming title game will feature a litany of explosive athletes on both sidelines. Personally, I think this will set up our fiercest battle for the natty in quite some time. Remember: we have not had a one-score contest in the championship game since 2017-18.

With Monday’s kickoff between Washington and Michigan already at the forefront of the nation’s mind, let’s dive into all you need to know for the 2023-24 CFP National Championship Pres. by AT&T.

All college football odds via FanDuel Sportsbook. Lines may change after this article is published.

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CFP National Championship: Washington vs. Michigan Betting Odds

Kickoff: Monday (Jan. 8), 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN/ABC/ESPN+
Location: NRG Stadium, Houston, TX
Spread: MICH -4.5 (-108)
Moneyline: Washington: +160 | Michigan: -194
Total: 55.5

Michigan vs. Washington Analysis

This Monday evening, we should — in all likelihood — see a college football contest for the ages. At this point, the game certainly deserves it, as it is the end of an era in many ways.

By next season, the CFP playoff field will have expanded from four teams to a dozen: won’t that be interesting. Additionally, the two programs vying for this year’s national title — Washington and Michigan — will be a part of the same conference. Organizational movement will not be exclusive to the Dawgs in 2024, but “UDub of the Big Ten” will take some getting used to.

It goes without saying that U-M and Washington have done well to distinguish themselves above all other CFB programs this season. Still, Monday will present a clash of styles for all the marbles. They say, “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” Well, this rumble in Houston between the Huskies and Wolverines will be big as they come.

Washington — in search of their second Division I football national title in school history — qualified for the College Football Playoff for the first time since 2016. Undoubtedly, this current group is the most talented team the Huskies have ever showcased, but especially so on offense. Riding the left arm of star quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (FBS-leading 4,648 passing yards), UW has accumulated a scoring clip of 37.6 PPG.

Like any quality football team, Penix does not do it all on his own. Washington’s receiving corps was the cream of the crop in 2023. Junior Rome Odunze (14 TD) and sophomore Ja’lynn Polk (17.3 YPC) both went well over 1,000 receiving yards this year, displaying home-run ability on a weekly basis. Still, the Huskies will see their toughest matchup yet when lined up against Michigan’s defense.

On D, the Wolverines were the most prolific side in college football this past season. Through 14 games, Michigan has suffocated opponents into just 10.2 PPG. That includes two separate shutouts versus the rival Michigan State Spartans and Iowa Hawkeyes. More specifically, U-M’s pass rush is ferocious. Led by defensive lineman Jaylen Harrell (6.5 sacks), nine different Wolverines have logged multiple quarterback sacks this year.

Of course, Michigan has a highly efficient offensive group as well. Signal-caller J.J. McCarthy has earned the nation’s third-best QBR (89.5) in this campaign. From there, tailback Blake Corum — who is the school’s all-time leader in rushing TD — has scored 26 total touchdowns to pace all of FBS this season. Can this group earn Ann Arbor their 10th national championship in football?

Transparently, the game will be won and lost on the matchup between Washington’s offense and Michigan’s defense. However, in the reciprocating battle, the Huskies must buckle down on the U-M’s run game to give themselves a quality shot in this title bid. As always, the Wolverines will attempt to control the pace and clock.

So, Monday in H-town — will it be #GoBlue or #PurpleReign?

CFP National Championship Best Bet

Washington +4.5 (-112)

In a contest where I believe Michigan’s offense will be asked to do more than ever, I am taking the points with Penix and the Huskies. The senior quarterback and head coach Kalen DeBoer have clicked over the past two years together, amassing more than 9,200 yards through the air during that span. Simply, in the Big Ten or elsewhere, the Wolverines have not seen an offensive attack like the one from UDub.

A major key in this game will be Washington’s offensive line. In 2023, the Huskies allowed just 11 sacks. Only three FBS schools — the Oregon Ducks, Liberty Flames and West Virginia Mountaineers — surrendered fewer than that. Also, UW’s 74 total yards lost from sacks is fourth-lowest in the country.

I respect that there is a fair shot head coach Jim Harbaugh is leaving after this season and that Michigan will want to send him off properly, but the Huskies’ two wins over Oregon combined with the recent Sugar Bowl victory against the Texas Longhorns has me a believer in the Dawgs.

Not only do I think Washington can cover the spread while getting more than a field goal, but I can absolutely see them winning this contest straight up. The Dawgs have been underdogs in three separate games in 2023, and obviously, they have won outright each time.

Earlier in the week (January 2nd), the received action on the natty at FanDuel Sportsbook showed more public support for Washington against the spread. However, in the moneyline market, Michigan had brought back a slightly larger handle.

Even if UW falls short versus the Wolverines, it is tough for me to see them getting blown out with Penix and Co. moving the ball how they have all year long (473.6 total yards per game). However things may fall, I have the most confidence in Washington +4.5. I am hoping for a purple parade in Seattle, blasting tunes from both Jimi and Nirvana (not as a mashup, of course).

– Gabriel Santiago

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