College Football National Championship Game: Odds, Picks & Predictions

College Football National Championship Game: Odds, Picks & Predictions

This article is part of our College Football Picks series.

College Football Picks: Michigan vs. Washington Best Bets

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Michigan vs. Washington Betting Odds for the CFB Championship

Spread: Michigan -4.5 (FanDuel Sportsbook), Washington +5.5 (BetMGM)

Total: Over/Under 55.5 (FanDuel Sportsbook) 

Moneyline: -185 Michigan (DraftKings Sportsbook); +170 Washington (ESPN Bet)

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Michigan vs. Washington Betting Picks for the CFB Championship

After a pair of dramatic semifinal games that came down to the last play, we are left with the top two ranked teams entering the playoff. Never a doubt, right?

Well, there was actually plenty of doubt that Michigan would pull off a victory as the Wolverines were down late in their game against Alabama, but the offense came through in the clutch and won in OT. Washington, on the other hand, was in full control of its game until the final few minutes, when the Huskies opened the door to a Texas comeback. Both teams held on, however, needing a stop of the last play of each game to secure the victory, so who has the edge this Monday?

Motivation is always key this time of year. While winning a national championship would seem to be enough motivation for anyone, these athletes are always on the lookout for some extra motivation. This past week, both Michigan and Washington played the "no one believed in us" card, and while we know that's not true, both teams were able to convince themselves and use that as extra fuel. 

Washington has been installed as the underdog here, so the chip on the Huskies' shoulders is firmly planted. At the same time, Michigan might have to invent a scenario in which they think no one believes in them because, quite frankly, 4.5 points in a battle of undefeated teams seems like a pretty strong belief that Michigan will win this game. Michigan can still play the "us against the world" card as most unaffiliated fans will likely side with Washington however, so both teams should find that extra motivation for this game. 

If we're looking at the stats, they show us a picture of two very good teams, but they are completely different. Michigan is balanced on offense but not very explosive. Washington is not very balanced, but it has the best passing game in the nation. On defense, Michigan is sound in all aspects, while Washington has some holes in its pass defense. Those holes aren't quite as large as they were throughout the season, however, as the secondary has gotten healthier over the past six weeks and doesn't quite resemble the team that ranked 123rd against the pass.  

On paper, there's an easy path to victory here for Michigan. Though the Wolverines aren't explosive on offense, they have enough to take advantage of the Huskies secondary. The defense should also be able to wreak havoc on the offensive line of Washington, just as it did against Alabama, for a half at least. However, insert the cliché of, "These games aren't played on paper." 

I've doubted Washington since its late-season swoon, but it's about time I come around. I thought Oregon would handle the Huskies in the PAC 12 Championship, and it didn't. I thought Texas would beat them, and it didn't. I kind of think Michigan is going to win this game as well, but something tells me that Washington is going to find a way once again. I'm not going to pick the Huskies straight up, but I do think they will cover this number. 

Since this is the championship game, I've scoured the books for some other prop bets that look tantalizing as well:

J.J. McCarthy over 199.5 Passing yards (FanDuel Sportsbook) - Michigan can move the ball through the air when needed, and that's Washington's weak spot. This number is too low for a capable QB like McCarthy. The only potential problem with this play is the game script. We've seen Michigan get a lead this season and pound away on the ground, but as long as the lead doesn't get too big, we should be fine here. 

J.J. McCarthy under 22.5 Rushing yards -105 (DraftKings Sportsbook) - McCarthy is not a running QB, but he runs when he has to. He rushed three times for 25 yards against Alabama, and his high this season was 51 yards against Rutgers. Michigan doesn't utilize many QB runs, so most of McCarthy's yards are from scrambles. Washington allowed Quinn Ewers to go for 54 yards on the ground this past game, and Ewers is less of a runner than McCarthy, so why the under? My guess is that Washington is going to focus on stopping the run and will likely have more men near the line of scrimmage, making it harder for everyone to run. Add to that, they just got gashed by Ewers, and there's probably more of an emphasis on keeping the QB contained this week. 

Michael Penix over 1.5 passing TDs -158 (FanDuel Sportbook) - I can't envision a scenario where Washington gets out to a lead and plays from in front, so either this is a back-and-forth game, or the Huskies are coming from behind all game. Either way, they'll have to lean heavily on the pass, just like they did against Texas (even though they were playing from ahead all game). Michigan has a great defense, but no one has been able to stop Washington this season, and if they score 3-4 TDs, Penix is bound to get two of them through the air. 

Michigan vs. Washington Expert Pick: Washington +5.5 (BetMGM Sportsbook)

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Michigan vs. Washington Predictions for the CFB Championship

As alluded to above, I'm expecting Michigan to get out to a lead in this game, and it will be up to Penix and crew to keep Washington in this game. The health of Dillon Johnson is up in the air, and although he's likely to play, I don't think it will matter much because Michigan is so good at stopping the run. Johnson was a non-factor against Texas, which will likely be the case in this game.

Michigan will be able to move the ball through the air and on the ground, but the amount of success on the ground will have a large impact on this game. If Michigan can move the ball on the ground effectively, Washington has no chance, so I'm expecting Washington to sell out to stop Blake Corum, which means it will be on McCarthy to move the ball, and he will, but that opens the door to mistakes. 

Michigan gets what they want on offense early, but a mistake or two keeps Washington in the game. Washington struggles early to get the offense going, but after a quarter or so, the Huskies figure out how to move the ball through the air. From there, it's a back-and-forth affair, with Michigan coming out on top, but just barely. 

Maybe I haven't learned my lesson on Washington yet. 

Michigan 34 - Washington 31

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Greg Vara
Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the FSWA Golf Writer of the Year in 2005 and 2013. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.
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