Michigan vs. Washington 2024 CFP National Championship Game: Matchups, Head-to-Head Record, History, Titles

The 2024 college football season comes down to this: It's the Washington Huskies vs. Michigan Wolverines in the CFP National Championship Game.

The two undefeated teams are coming into Monday’s title game on the heels of thrilling victories in the CFP semifinals. Michigan took down Nick Saban and Alabama before Washington defeated Steve Sarkisian’s Texas, each on a defensive stop in the game’s final play, to punch their ticket to Houston’s NRG Stadium.

When is the 2024 CFP National Championship Game: Date, start time for Michigan vs Washington

It doesn’t happen every year, but this year, it’s easy to argue that the title game features the two very best teams in the nation.


Washington is led by its sensational quarterback, Michael Penix Jr., in his second year since transferring over from Indiana. As good as he was in the regular season and the Pac-12 Championship Game – and he was spectacular, throwing for 4,218 yards with 36 total touchdowns en route to a Heisman Trophy runner-up finish – he was even better against the Longhorns. Penix completed 29 of 38 passes for 430 yards with a pair of touchdowns.


Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh lauded Penix’s skillset on Wednesday.

“Big-time arm talent, tremendous presence in the pocket, sees the field really well,” Harbaugh said. “He is so polished. Watching him and his accuracy, his decision making, timing, he has really just continued to have this tremendous presence of going through progression, feels pressure, will drop it off to a check-down -- yeah, it's at an elite level.”


Washington, led by AP Coach of the Year Kalen DeBoer, has been doing this all amid the backdrop of its upcoming move to the Big Ten after 65 years in what’s now the Pac-12. It makes for a CFP National Championship Game with a strong Big Ten throughline: There’s never been a Big Ten vs. Big Ten college football championship game, and while that still holds true, Monday will represent the next-closest thing, with both teams occupying the conference next season (and even squaring off in a title game rematch on Oct. 5).

Washington's CFP appearance is just the third in the Pac-12's history, since the four-team Playoff began in 2015. The Huskies also earned a CFP berth before losing in the semifinal in 2017, and Oregon fell short in the 2015 championship game. Washington has a chance to claim the conference's first CFP title before all but two of its schools depart and the Playoff expands to 12 teams.

But as unconventional as the looming conference jump has made Washington’s season, it doesn’t hold a candle to what’s taken place in Ann Arbor this year, and it all swirls around – you guessed it – Harbaugh.


His ninth year at the helm in Michigan has been another turbulent one, bookended by two separate three-game suspensions: one university-imposed at the start of the season amid an NCAA investigation into alleged recruiting violations during the coronavirus pandemic, the other levied by the Big Ten at the end of the regular season for the Wolverines’ alleged sign-stealing scheme. Michigan’s signature win (at least until the Rose Bowl) came with offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore serving as interim head coach, as the Wolverines took down archrival Ohio State at The Big House in the regular season finale.


Michigan’s offense this season has been led by star running back Blake Corum, who’s rushed for 1,111 yards and 25 touchdowns in his senior year. Corum finished ninth in Heisman voting, just one spot ahead of quarterback J.J. McCarthy, the junior who’s completed over 73% of his passes with 22 passing touchdowns and just four interceptions on the year.


But as great as Michigan’s offense can be, the team’s calling card is its defense. The Wolverines’ 243.1 yards allowed per game this year is the lowest figure in the FBS, as is its miniscule 10.21 points allowed per game.


That defense versus Penix, a talent like none that Michigan (and most teams, for that matter) has faced this year, will be a pivotal matchup in deciding Monday’s title game.


“That's a good team over there,” Penix said Wednesday of Michigan’s D. “They're coached up very well. But we're going to be ready for the challenge. They mix up the picture quite a bit. They try to get the quarterback off his mark. But we'll be ready for it. We know that … We know that we have what it takes to be able to come out with a W. We've just got to go out there, execute and do it.”

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How many football national championships has Michigan won?

If they can slow Penix, and if Corum, McCarthy and co. can break through against Washington’s defense – which ranks 53rd in scoring and 94th in yards per game – Michigan will have an inside track to its 10th official national championship (though the school claims two additional titles). All came before the era of official championship games; Monday will be the Wolverines’ first appearance on such a stage in school history.

How many football national championships has Washington won?

It will be Washington’s first title game as well, and if victorious, the Huskies will win their third national championship in program history.

The other two are claimed titles from 1960 and 1991.


Who won the last matchup between Michigan and Washington, and what’s their all-time head-to-head record?

The title game is just the 14th all-time matchup between the two schools, with Michigan currently leading the series 8-5. They’ve squared off just once in the last two decades, with a CFP-bound Michigan prevailing 31-10 in Ann Arbor on Sept. 11, 2021 against a Washington team headed to a 4-8 season and firing of head coach Jimmy Lake.


As far as margin of victory goes, expect a different story this time around.


“It comes down to execution, not really thinking about too much national championship,” McCarthy said Wednesday. “Obviously we all know that, but just all coming down to how we execute each and every play and making sure that we are locked in on all the little details … Taking everything in, really appreciating the moment and embracing the moment and finishing out on top, because nobody remembers the second-place winner or the runner-up.”


Is this Jim Harbaugh’s final game at Michigan?

Another Harbaugh storyline, for good measure: There’s a non-zero chance that Monday is his final game as Wolverines head coach. Rumors of a potential second NFL stint have swirled around Harbaugh and the Michigan program for weeks. He recently hired a new agent, Don Yee, with strong NFL ties and has tactically navigated around questions about his future.


If Monday is indeed Harbaugh’s final game at Michigan, a national championship would be quite the way to go out. Washington has other plans.


Something has to give, and it will give on Monday.