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College Football National Championship: Staff Picks for Title Game

College football puts a bow on the 2023 season Monday night when No. 1 Michigan takes on No. 2 Washington in the national championship game.  It’s been a season that won’t soon be forgotten seeing as the team with the literal No. 1 next to their name saw their head coach suspended for half of the regular season.

But who wins on Monday night?

Does Jim Harbaugh win and take his national championship to the NFL?

Or does Washington, who is in just their second year under head coach Kalen DeBoer, take home the crown?

Here is what the Fighting Irish Wire crew sees happening Monday night between a couple of soon-to-be Big Ten rivals.

Geoffrey Clark:

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan got through Alabama, which alone makes them the favorite. That’s not to take away from Washington’s thrilling win over Texas, but neither team has gotten this far under the current format, and I simply have to go with the team that has had the better season, tainted as it was. The Wolverines are what the TV Tropes community calls a Karma Houdini, and they’ll prove it in this game.

Michigan 38, Washington 20

Michael Chen

Zachary BonDurant-USA TODAY Sports
Zachary BonDurant-USA TODAY Sports

With everything happening around the Michigan program, how can you not root against them? The cheating allegations will tarnish this team’s legacy forever, regardless of what happens on Monday night against Washington. Karma finally catches up with the Wolverines, who have faced off against Michael Penix before, when he was at Indiana. They also have recently faced a Penix-less Huskies team, and they went their way. It won’t tonight, as Washington’s air raid overcomes the Wolverines solid defense. 

Washington 41 Michigan 28

John Kennedy:

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Despite their off-field issues, of which there are many, Michigan has rolled through their season on the field. They have benefited from a combination of a weak schedule and an upperclassmen laden team that has gelled terrifically even with Jim Harbaugh being suspended twice during the season. I expect this to be a close game throughout with both teams feeling each other out early. Michael Penix’s arm will be the difference in this ballgame. He will make just enough plays to put Michigan away and deliver the long arm of college football justice everyone outside of Ann Arbor has been waiting for.

Washington 31, Michigan* 27

Jeff Feyerer:

D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports
D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

This Washington team is unlike any they’ve seen this year, mainly due to their explosiveness on offense. Washington was the most exciting team to watch this college football season on their way to six Top 25 wins and an astounding four wins against Top 10 teams. The running ability of Blake Corum and the guile of J.J. McCarthy will be difficult for the Huskies to handle, but I think newly minted scholarship kicker Grady Gross will bring home the title for Kalen DeBoer and crew making them the first title winner west of the Mississippi River since Texas in 2005.

Washington 31, Michigan 30

Nick Shepkowski

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

As much as the quarterbacks get the love this game taking place is simply a win for old school football.  Sure, it may look a bit different than it did decades ago but both of these teams are built on not just controlling, but owning the line of scrimmage.  Michigan was able to do that against Alabama and is the biggest reason they won the Rose Bowl.  Washington took home Joe Moore Award honors for having the nation’s best offensive line this year.  This one should be a thriller and I don’t see points being easy to come by.  Of all things to trust I look at Michigan’s defensive line to be effective enough to disrupt the Washington run game and the timing of Michael Penix, Jr.  Wolverines by a touchdown.

Michigan 30, Washington 23

Story originally appeared on Fighting Irish Wire