News Press staff makes CFP National Championship picks

Jan. 5—No. 1 Michigan and No. 2 Washington will write the closing chapter on the four-team College Football Playoff Monday in Houston as they compete for a national championship.

Its a game that features the last two undefeated teams in FBS, but which one will finish the season unblemished?

News Press sports reporters Marcus Trevino and Ryan Breeden make their picks below:

Breeden: Michigan

Dread it, run from it, destiny arrives all the same.

Jim Harbaugh's Michigan Wolverines have faced scrutiny amidst the uncovered cheating scandal led by Connor Stallions. You could even say they are this season's "villain." Sometimes the bad guy wins in the end, and on Monday night that will be true.

You know a team is legit when they step onto a field with Alabama and are clearly better. That's happened maybe a handful of times in the Nick Saban era. Stronger. Smarter. More dominant. Michigan just did that.

The defense swarmed Jalen Milroe and sacked him a CFP record five times in the first half. Then on the final play of the game they stuffed a desperation sprint up the middle to end it. The biggest threat offensively for Washington is Michael Penix, and, while he is incredible, he's going to be running for his life all game against the Michigan front seven.

From an offensive standpoint, experience and consistency is the theme, and in a high pressure situation that's exactly what you want. J.J. McCarthy has lost one game as a starter at Michigan, and he has the best win percentage of any quarterback of the last 10 years. Is he the most talented quarterback? Definitely not. But the dude is a winner.

The top two offensive weapons are seniors. Running back Blake Corum and receiver Roman Wilson have played a combined 89 games and it's been valuable. Three CFP games, three Big Ten Championships and 41 wins.

Michigan is dominant at the line of scrimmage on both sides, they have a proven leader and experienced weapons. They are built for this game. Washington has had a good run, but I think that will end on Monday.

Trevino: Washington

Washington will have the best player on the field, and he plays the most important position in the sport. Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. should have won the Heisman Trophy this year, and he's easily the best quarterback Michigan will have faced this year.

On top of that, none of Michigan's receivers would start in Seattle except for Roman Wilson, maybe. This Washington team is like a diet version of the 2019 LSU team, which is the best college football team I've seen.

Rome Odunze, Ja'Lynn Polk and Jalen McMillan are too much for any defense if the Washington offensive line can keep Penix upright. Michigan dropped Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe six times, but Penix's pocket presence is much better.

Penix and the offense controlled time of possession, 36:20-23:40, over Texas. If they can do the same to Michigan and force turnovers on defense, it'll be difficult for the Wolverines to maintain pace.

By the way, Michigan's special teams would've given the Rose Bowl to Alabama if the Tide could capitalize on short fields.

The Huskies are more battle-tested, as they played the second-toughest schedule in the sport compared to the 18th-toughest for Michigan, according to ESPN.

I like Washington to put up a lot of points and win the game.