College Football National Championship Picks and Preview - Michigan vs. Washington

FairwayJay's season long coverage of Top 25 college football match-ups concludes with the National Championship game between Michigan and Washington

Preview and picks for the College Football Playoff National Championship

The final game of the 2023 college football season concludes with the national championship game between No. 1 Michigan and No. 2 Washington. Big game betting at the leading online sportsbooks shows a big more support on the Wolverines, who were good to us in the College Football Playoff semifinals with a 27-20 overtime win over Alabama. That Pick, along with an Opinion winner on Washington-Texas over the game total provided us more green in the Huskies 37-31 win over Texas to conclude a pair of exciting and engaging national semifinal games. 

We also leaned Washington's way in their upset over Oregon in the College Football Conference Championship games, which followed a small winning season of Top 25 Picks this season where our Picks and Opinions finished 28-27 ATS, including 22-19 ATS on sides. 

Now it's time to finish of the final College Football Playoff that includes just four teams in Monday's National Championship Game. Many football fans and bettors are looking forward to next year's 12 team playoff as more deserving teams get the chance to complete in a playoff to win the national championship. 

I chip-in some insight and information you can bet on including a Lean/Opinion on the Wolverines in the Michigan-Washington National Championship game. As mentioned previously regarding reduced wagers and money management, this game fits another suggestions of not going all-in on a big bet just because it's the national championship and stand-along game that is drawing more betting action. 

As I mentioned in the Michigan-Alabama preview, 'Bama QB Milroe will makes mistakes and we'll see some turnovers (key fumble). Milroe and his mates are about to find out what it's like to be smacked and sacked (6 sacks) by an elite defense as the Wolverines win and power their way to the national championship game. 

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Date: Monday, Jan. 9
TV channel: ESPN
Location: NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas
Pointspread: Michigan -4.5
Total: 56 

I favor Michigan with the superior running game and defense while recognizing that Washington's nasty offensive line won the Joe Moore Award as the nation's top offensive line. That's a key reason Heisman runner-up QB Michael Penix, Jr. had such success again this season while throwing to the best trio of wide receivers in the country. Michigan free pick National ChampionshipPlaybook Sports noted that WR's Rome Odunze (17 deep catches for 612 yards and 5 TDs), Ja’Lynn Polk (13 for 542 and 5 TDs), and, when healthy, Jalen McMillian (five for 187 yards and 1 TD) were an electric triumphant of receivers.

BTW, Rome Oduze is expected to be a top half of Round 1 NFL draft pick this April (if the Junior declares) in a wide receiver class that is stacked at the top. Odunze also played high school football at nearby football powerhouse Bishop Gorman where I live in Las Vegas.

Michigan-Washington Player Props

Huskies WR Rome Odunze going over 97.5 passing yards was one of the most popularly bet proposition wagers on the board when the Biletnikoff Award runner-up had a game-high 6 receptions for 125 yards in the national semifinal win over Texas. Odunze has topped 97 receiving yards in 10 of 14 games this season, and his receiving yards prop is O/U 89.5 yards vs. Michigan (no bet), and it's dipped as Michigan CB Will Johnson is a tough matchup and future NFL Round 1 pick (2025).  

Michigan QB JJ McCarthy - over 196.5 passing yards (Bet)

Washington's defense allowed 267 yards per game this season vs. FBS foes to rank No. 121 in the country (of 133 teams). Texas QB Quinn Ewers passed for 318 yards (24-of-43) against the Huskies in the national semi's. The game was tied 21-21 at halftime before Washington extended in the second half to win 37-31. McCarthy won't pass near that many times, and while this prop has been bet up and is even at 201.5 yards at other leading online sportsbooks, McCarthy should have a good shot to eclipse this total if he doesn't get hurt and the Wolverines move the ball with balance as expected while opening up more passing lanes and yards after catch as well. Washington rush defense ranks 119th in the nation in expected points added (EPA) per play, and once the Wolverines show their strong running game, McCarthy will have plenty of shots to complete more passes and tack on yards.

Michigan's stronger, balanced offense should have success against a Huskies defense that allows 404 yards per game at 5.5 yards per play vs. FBS opponents.  The Wolverines averaged 5.9 yards per play against 'Bama despite making some mistakes while rushing for 131 yards. Quarterback JJ McCarthy passed for 221 yards (17-of-27, 8.2 yds per pass) and 3 TDs against a stronger and more talented Alabama defense in the national semi's. Michigan's defense held the 'Tide to 288 yards at 4.4 yards per play. 

Recall Washington was held to 272 yards at 5.1 yards per play at Oregon State and the Beavers stronger defense in a 22-20 win. Penix passed for just 162 yards on 13-of-28 passing with 2 touchdowns. Penix led the country in passing with 4,648 yards vs. FBS opponents and torched Texas in the national semifinals with 430 passing yards and 532 total yards at 7.2 yards per play. Penix also had 324 passing yards vs. Oregon in the Pac 12 title game as the Huskies rolled up 482 yards at 6.2 yards per play.  But Michigan's dominant defense held FBS opponents to 4.1 yards per play and a nation-low 243 yards per game including 150 passing yards per game (No. 2). 

Washington is 25-2 SU since they hired head coach Kalen DeBoer and QB Michael Penix, Jr. joined him in Seattle after they were together at Indiana where Penix started his college career. Meanwhile, Michigan QB JJ McCarthy is 26-1 SU as a starter with Michigan, and we're likely seeing the last game for Jim Harbaugh as head coach of the Wolverines before he moves back to coach in the NFL. 

By the way, following the former BCS National Championship games and computers helping decide which teams are best, the College Football Playoff with four teams began in 2014. That was the last time the national championship game was played without an SEC team when Ohio State defeated Oregon. Now in the final CFP including four teams, we have another Big Ten - Pac 12 matchup between Michigan and Washington, who will be conference foes next season when the Pac 12 is dissolved and Washington, Oregon, USC and UCLA join the powerful Big Ten conference. 

College football fans and bettors should be reminded that five straight College Football Playoff national championship games have been decided by more than two touchdowns, including Georgia's 65-7 thrashing of TCU in last year's CFP championship game. Washington has won 10 straight one-score games, and while this sets up to be another entertaining and close contest, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Wolverines win this by 10 points or more. 

Thanks for support and following Fairway's Forecast and NCAA football Top 25 reports and picks this season.

2025 National Championship Odds   

Next year's 2024-25 college football championship odds are available for early betting, and SEC teams are at the top Michigan is at the top of the class, according to odds at BetOnline

- Georgia (+400)
- Alabama (+575)
- Ohio State (+800)
- Texas (+900)
- Michigan (+1000)
- Oregon (+1200)
- Mississippi (+1200)
- LSU (+1600)
- Florida State (+1800)
- Penn State (+2500)
- Texas A&M (+2800)
- Tennessee (+2800)
- Notre Dame (+3300)
- Clemson (+3300)
- USC, Oklahoma, Missouri (+4000)
- Washington (+5000)

Ahead of the 2023 season, Michigan was +1000 and Washington +3000 to win the 2023-24 national championship at many online sportsbooks. 

Follow FairwayJay here at and on X (Twitter) @FairwayJay for more sports betting news and insights.   

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