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Michigan vs. Washington preview: Undefeated teams clash in title game

The 2023/24 college football season comes to a close on Monday night, as No. 1 Michigan goes against No. 2 Washington for the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Everything is at stake in this game, so let's get into some of the key players for both teams, the odds, and a few storylines to look out for.

WhatMichigan vs Washington
WhereNRG Stadium, Houston, TX
When7:30 PM ET, Monday, January 8
How to watchESPN
OddsMichigan -4.5, Washington +170 ML

Key Players

Washington:

  • Michael Penix Jr. (QB)
  • Dillon Johnson (RB)
  • Rome Odunze (WR)
  • Jalen McMillan (WR)
  • Jabbar Muhammed (CB)
  • Bralen Trice (DE)

Michigan:

  • J.J. McCarthy (QB)
  • Blake Corum (RB)
  • Colston Loveland (TE)
  • Junior Colson (LB)
  • Josh Wallace (DB)
  • Kris Jenkins (DL)

Undefeated teams motivated by disrespect

While many college football fans and pundits were touting Michigan as a National Championship contender prior to the start of the season, the Wolverines came under fire after a sign-stealing scandal rocked the college football world. 

Since the controversy was brought to light, the Wolverines have been consistently questioned ahead of their competitive games (against Penn State, Ohio State and most recently, Alabama). 

However, Jim Harbaugh's team has managed to pass each test en route to a berth in his first National Title game as the Wolverines head coach. 

On the other side, this Washington team has been counted out and disrespected by the betting market, college football media, and analysts. They showed a ton of resilience and poise in close games as they found a way to win, often by less than one possession.

With another close win against Texas to improve to 14-0 on the season, the Huskies have now won 10 games by 10 points or less. 

Prior to the start of the College Football Playoffs, it was revealed that Michael Penix Jr. and plenty of key players on both sides of the ball were playing through injuries down the stretch. 

It just so happens that the Huskies looked much healthier in a dominant offensive performance against the Longhorns en route to the most important victory in the Kalen DeBoer era thus far. 

Rising star vs. grizzled veteran on the sidelines

As much as this game is about the pair of undefeated teams on the field, it's also about the elite coaches on either side. 

We've mentioned Harbaugh previously, but the Wolverines coach has long been one of the best in the game and his 117-46 record at this level speaks for itself. Now, Harbaugh can cement himself in Michigan lore forever while proving his status as an all-time great at the college football level. 

Harbaugh's Michigan have played a signature brand of smash-mouth football, led by Blake Corum's 25 rushing touchdowns and a defensive front where six players had at least three sacks this year.

The 60-year-old Harbaugh will be coaching across the field from a rising superstar in Washington's 49-year-old head coach DeBoer. 

DeBoer has succeeded as a head coach at every stop, as he's now 25-2 in his two seasons as the coach in Seattle. 

For his career as a whole, DeBoer is a whopping 104-11, dating back to his days as head coach at Fresno State and Sioux Falls. 

Two distinct styles of coaching and offense will face off in Houston, and a Washington win would put DeBoer on the level of Harbaugh and the best coaches in College Football.

Odds displayed within this article were correct at the time of writing and are subject to change.

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