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  • Writer's pictureNathan Dunn

Michigan, Washington meet in CFB Championship


Michigan, Washington meet in CFB Championship

Monday’s national championship game will feature the last remaining undefeated programs as the prestigious history of Michigan battles against a Washington program that isn’t quite as familiar with the brightest national spotlight.

 

Monday’s winner will finish with an invincible 15-0 record, while the loser will end with a 14-1 record.

 

The Michigan Wolverines are in their first championship game since the installation of the College Football Playoff, having lost in the semifinal the previous two years. They are back at the pinnacle of college football after a 27-year drought since Charles Woodson’s Heisman-winning campaign helped the Wolverines to the 1997 Rose Bowl. Michigan has tallied 11 claimed national titles and seven unclaimed.

 

Washington comes from much more humble roots with just two claimed national titles and three unclaimed. Transfer quarterback Michael Penix Jr. is having another record-breaking season, setting a franchise record with 4,648 passing yards this season while wide receiver Rome Odunze also set a program record with 1,553 receiving yards this season.

 

Jim Harbaugh led Michigan after a season full of adversity in the wake of the sign-stealing scandal, in which Harbaugh served a three-game suspension at the end of the regular season. JJ McCarthy utilizes his tools efficiently but isn’t nearly as much of a threat as Washington’s Penix.

 

While not having an All-American caliber running back, Michigan is a running-based team with Blake Corum leading the way. They carry the ball on nearly 60% of offensive plays using a variety of resources.

 

Coming from a 27-20 semifinal win in overtime over Alabama, the Wolverines will look to play a cleaner game on special teams. Michigan missed a PAT, two field goals, and had two fumbles on punt returns in addition to a third fumble on a flea-flicker in the fourth quarter.

 

AP Coach of the Year Kalen DeBoer has led Washington to a national championship game in just his second full season with the Huskies. Washington is a passing-dominant team, passing the ball about 58% of the time.

 

Washington beat Texas 37-31 in the semifinal behind a huge showing from Penix, who threw for 430 yards with two touchdowns. The Huskies wouldn’t mind making Monday’s title game a track meet as they aren’t the most efficient defense but operate with high efficiency offensively. They protected their quarterback against Texas, but will be up against a physical Michigan defense that had five critical first-half sacks against Alabama.

 

Michigan will need a big performance from their defense to limit points for the Huskies and dictate the pace of the game. Washington will look to wear down a tough Wolverine defense to put some points on the board and capitalize on any special teams mistakes.

 

The Wolverines enter as the betting favorite, but simple mistakes nearly cost them against Alabama. If those mistakes are repeated, Washington won’t be as forgiving with the offense they have. The worry for the Huskies is their defense, which gives up more than 400 total yards a game. Washington will need a strong defensive effort to stay in the game.

 

I can see both teams finding a way to win the championship game, but I believe Michigan is ultimately crowned the champion. They are such a close team and overcome some tough adversity all season, I think they pull a close one out with a strong defense and good enough offense.

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