Jan 8, 2024 - Sports

Michigan heads to Houston for the CFP National Championship

J.J.McCarthy #9, Blake Corum #2 and Head Coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines celebrate their Rose Bowl victory between University of Alabama and University of Michigan at the Rose Bowl. Corum has a rose in his mouth on stage.

J.J. McCarthy, Blake Corum and Jim Harbaugh celebrate their Rose Bowl victory over Alabama. Photo: Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images

If your neighborhood is a little quiet Monday, it may be because thousands of Michiganders have made the pilgrimage to Houston for college football's national championship.

What's happening: Michigan is a 4.5-point favorite for its first national championship since 1997 Monday night against the Washington Huskies after beating Alabama in overtime in the Rose Bowl.

Why it matters: This is the biggest football game for any team in the state at any level since the turn of the century.

🏈 Average College Football Playoff National Championship ticket price, 2017–2023
Data: SeatGeek; Chart: Alice Feng/Axios

State of play: Michigan has the country's best defense, allowing the fewest points and yards per game this season, plus is top five in things like passing yards allowed and turnover margin.

Yes, but: Washington's offense could still make this close. The Huskies are led by electric 23-year-old quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and have arguably the best wide receiver corps in the country.

  • Rome Odunze and Ja'Lynn Polk will be playing on Sundays soon, while star running back Dillon Johnson is expected to play Monday night despite injuring his foot last week.
  • Washington averages 37.6 points per game, 10th best in the country, and Penix leads the country in passing yards.

The intrigue: Michigan split its last national championship with Nebraska in 1997, well before the current College Football Playoff system. Washington split its only title with Miami in 1991 even though those undefeated Huskies beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

The bottom line: The winner Monday will claim a full national championship for the first time in decades.

How to watch: The ESPN broadcast starts at 7:30pm.

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