Making the case that Washington, not Michigan, needs to be favored within the CFP championship recreation. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
Oddsmakers obtained it unsuitable
The Michigan Wolverines are favored over the Washington Huskies by 4.5 factors within the School Soccer Playoff finale. They shouldn’t be.
Each UM and UW are one win away from their first nationwide championship within the CFP period. The Wolverines beat Alabama 27-20 in additional time within the first semifinal, whereas the Huskies knocked off Texas 37-31 within the late recreation to earn their spot within the decisive recreation.
As each groups look to make historical past, permit us to make the case that Vegas obtained it unsuitable, and that Washington ought to enter the matchup because the hunted, not the hunter.
Why Washington over Michigan in CFP?
The sport of soccer is about two fundamentals: scoring factors and stopping opponents.
UW and UM stack up nicely in each classes. Washington was tenth in scoring offense, whereas Michigan allowed fewer factors per recreation than any FBS program.
6-0 in opposition to top-25 groups
Nevertheless, Washington, regardless of enjoying in an effectively-dissolved Pac-12 convention, is the extra examined of the 2 applications. They’re 6-0 in opposition to top-25 groups and performed their two most spectacular video games of the yr of their final two outings in opposition to No. 5 Oregon and No. 3 Texas.
The Huskies even have the perfect participant within the matchup in QB Michael Penix Jr., the Heisman runner-up.
Washington’s senior gunslinger has 35 touchdowns and 9 interceptions on the season and simply went 29-38 for 430 yards and two TDs in opposition to Texas. He additionally made quite a few throws that might have handed for clips from Tom Brady or Peyton Manning’s spotlight reel.
Though the Wolverines statistically had the perfect protection within the nation and already performed juggernauts resembling Ohio State and Bama, they haven’t confronted something like Penix and the Washington offense.
In accordance with Professional Soccer Focus, UW had the third-best pass-blocking unit within the nation. In addition they have a projected top-10 draft choose in extensive receiver Rome Odunze who’s gone over 100 yards receiving in 5 straight video games.
It won’t be truthful to completely disregard Michigan’s protection, however we’ve seen this story earlier than.
Final yr, the Wolverines ranked seventh within the nation with 16.1 factors allowed per recreation. They confronted a powerful TCU offense within the semifinal and uncharacteristically gave up 51 factors in a loss. The yr earlier than that they ranked eighth with 17.4 factors allowed however gave up 34 to Georgia within the CFP semifinal.
Analyzing the matchup
For the reason that Wolverines don’t have a historic protection, it’s truthful to count on the Huskies to seek out success shifting the ball. The query then turns into how will UM’s offense deal with the UW protection and the general movement of the sport.
Blake Corum ranked thirty fifth in speeding yards however led all backs with 25 TDs. He additionally scampered for a game-winning 17-yard landing in additional time in opposition to Alabama that solely the elite of the elite might make.
Stopping the run was one in every of Wasington’s largest points this season. They allowed opponents to select up 137.1 yards per recreation on the bottom (forty first) on 4.4 yards per carry (84th). In the meantime, PFF graded Michigan because the Eleventh-best run-blocking staff.
The important thing to Michigan knocking off Alabama was its resilience, whether or not it’s their late 75-yard game-tying TD drive or Corum’s particular run. However with Washington’s confirmed potential to get down the sphere in a rush, they’re going to must be even higher.
J.J. McCarthy performed a clear recreation and went 17-27 for 221 yards and three TDs on Monday. On the similar time, he missed some throws and didn’t open up the sphere vertically the best way UW will.
Michigan had not confronted a fourth-quarter deficit all season till the Bama recreation.
Penix and co. are additionally extremely comfy enjoying in tight video games, having gone 8-0 in one-score video games. In the meantime, Michigan had not confronted a fourth-quarter deficit all season till the Bama recreation. Their heavy run-first system additionally doesn’t challenge nicely in high-scoring or one-score video games.
The underside line is that Michigan is likely to be the extra well-rounded staff, however types make fights. Washington’s explosiveness will heap stress onto a Michigan staff that isn’t outfitted to match them, and that’s the reason they need to be in pole place.