College Football Playoff: Michigan opens as the early favorite over Washington for the national title

Michigan opened as the early favorite ahead of Monday’s College Football Playoff national championship game against Washington.

The No. 1 Wolverines are 4.5-point favorites at BetMGM against the Huskies after beating Alabama 27-20 in overtime in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day. Blake Corum scored a 17-yard rushing touchdown on the first possession of OT before Michigan’s defense stopped Alabama on fourth down on the Crimson Tide’s possession.

Washington beat Texas 37-31 in the Sugar Bowl after stopping Texas’ improbable comeback attempt as time expired. The Longhorns got 45 seconds to score a potential game-winning TD after Washington RB Dillon Johnson suffered a foot injury on a third-down carry as Washington attempted to drain the clock.

The total for the game at Houston’s NRG Stadium is 55.5 points. The Rose Bowl went over its 45.5-point total, thanks to overtime, while Texas’ touchdown with just over a minute to go pushed the total of the Sugar Bowl over 61.5.

Both teams are looking for their first national title of the College Football Playoff era and their first national titles since the 1990s. Michigan's most recent title is a split national championship after the 1997 season and Washington claimed a split national title in 1991 after going 12-0.

It's the first title game since the inaugural CFP that doesn't feature a team from the SEC. The first playoff featured Ohio State and Oregon playing for the championship and now the last four-team playoff will also have a Big Ten team and a Pac-12 team going for the title.

The meeting is the fourth title game in the 10 years of the College Football Playoff between undefeated teams. Both Michigan and Washington are 14-0 after winning their conferences. The previous matchups between undefeated teams came after the 2018 season (Clemson and Alabama), the 2019 season (Clemson and LSU) and the COVID-shortened 2020 season (Alabama and Ohio State).

The title game is the 14th meeting overall between Michigan and Washington. The two schools have played 13 times between 1953 and 2021. The Wolverines beat the Huskies 31-10 in Week 2 two seasons ago as Washington went 4-8 and Michigan made its first College Football Playoff. Washington’s losing season set the stage for the hire of coach Kalen DeBoer and the transfer of QB Michael Penix Jr. ahead of the 2022 season.

It’s also the first playoff matchup between teams that will be a part of the same conference the next season. As the Pac-12 as we know it will cease to exist in 2024, Washington is moving to the Big Ten along with Oregon, UCLA and USC next year.