We are 30 minutes away from deciding a national champion for the 2023 season as No. 1 Michigan leads No. 2 Washington 17-10 at halftime of the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday night in Houston. It appeared as if the Wolverines were prepared to run away with this one, but the Huskies took advantage of a huge opportunity before the break.
Michigan jumped out to a 14-3 lead in the first quarter thanks to two touchdown runs from Donovan Edwards as the Wolverines offensive line pushed around the Huskies defensive counterparts. With 42 seconds to go in the half, however, Washington cut it to 17-10 after a Michael Penix Jr. scoring strike to Jalen McMillan.
Washington will receive the ball to start the second half as we inch closer toward a new national title winner.
Follow along withon Monday. CBS Sports will be with you throughout the game providing live highlights and analysis as Michigan battles Washington.
How to watch national championship 2024
Game: 2024 College Football Playoff National Championship
Date: Monday, Jan. 8 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: NRG Stadium — Houston, Texas
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
For a limited time, new subscribers can save $20 on Fubo’s Pro, Elite and Premier plans.
Michigan vs. Washington: Alternate viewing options
- Field Pass with Pat McAfee Show — ESPN2, fuboTV (Try for free)
- Command Center — ESPNU, fuboTV (Try for free)
- Skycast — ESPNEWS, fuboTV (Try for free)
- All-22, hometown radio feeds, halftime band performances and more available via ESPN’s app
Michigan vs. Washington storylines
Michigan: It’s taken Michigan a while to build to this point, and the Wolverines have taken their fair share of lumps along the way. Harbaugh’s squad couldn’t even break through in its own conference consistently until 2021 when a big win against Ohio State got the ball rolling on its current run. That sent UM to its first of three straight Big Ten titles with College Football Playoff appearances following each. Even then, the Wolverines couldn’t climb to the tippy-top of the mountain. They were blown out by Georgia in 2021 and lost to TCU last year in what stands as the largest upset in CFP history.
Then, with the program continuing its steady march, it looked as if the wheels might fall off this season. Michigan self-imposed a three-game suspension for Harbaugh in an attempt to soften the blow from an NCAA investigation into recruiting violations committed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, shortly after Harbaugh returned, news broke of an alleged sign-stealing and advanced scouting scheme run by a now former staffer, causing the Big Ten to crack down on Michigan and suspend Harbaugh through the final three games of the year. Through it all, the Wolverines stayed together, which is a testament to the team culture that’s steadily grown through the years. That culture now might lead Michigan to its first national championship since 1997.
Washington: People will throw the word “physicality” around a lot in the days leading up to Monday’s clash, and a lot of the focus will be on Michigan and its punishing style of football. The Wolverines play in the Big Ten, where teams still employ a fullback and run the ball from the I-formation. While Washington’s newfangled offense is filled with glitz and glamour, the Huskies have what it takes to get down in the trenches. It starts with a Joe Moore Award-winning offensive line. UW allowed just 11 sacks all year, which amounts to less than one per game. For those that still believe Pac-12 competition is dubious for whatever reason, Washington just held a Texas defensive line that boasts a pair of potential first-round NFL Draft picks in Byron Murphy and T’Vondre Sweat without a single sack or quarterback hurry.
By comparison, Washington’s defensive front pushed Texas around with two sacks, five tackles for loss and three quarterback hurries. Huskies EDGE Bralen Trice is arguably the most talented pass rusher in Monday’s game. He has 16 sacks over the past two years and has earned back-to-back All-Pac 12 first-team honors as a result. Behind him, run-stuffing linebacker Edefuan Ulofoshio was named a Butkus Award finalist after a season in which he logged 90 total tackles, eight for a loss, and three sacks. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that Washington can more than hold its own at the point of attack, though prevailing narratives might suggest otherwise.
Michigan vs. Washington prediction, pick
Washington has one very significant edge in this game, and his name is Michael Penix Jr. While Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy has a bright future with plenty of potential, Penix is as close is it comes to a finished product. He can make throws at all levels of the field, and he might be a better tight-window passer than any of his peers. Penix has a much better supporting cast with wideouts Rome Odunze — a CBS Sports All-American — Jalen McMillan and Ja’Lynn Polk, breakout running back Dillon Johnson and reliable tight end Jack Westover. The Huskies are also talented enough to make stops on defense and pull this one out, though it should be tight. Pick: Washington +4.5 | Washington 35, Michigan 31
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