With the betting odds for college football’s National Championship game between Michigan and Washington here, we have picked our favorite prop bets for the game. I will recommend investing in three player props: Michael Penix “over” passing yards, Rome Odunze “over” receiving yards, and Blake Corum “under” rushing yards.
In addition to having player props to profit from, you may view the justification for these three player props as an argument for playing the Huskies.
- Michael Penix Over 291.5 Passing Yards (-115)
- Rome Odunze Over 89.5 Receiving Yards (-115)
- Blake Corum Under 105.5 Rushing Yards (-115)
Monday, January 08, 2024 – 07:30 PM ET at NRG Stadium
Michigan’s Overrated Defense
It is tempting to play the “under” on various player props for Washington’s players on offense, because of Michigan’s defensive stats, seeing as the Wolverines rank number one in total defense. While this statistic seems very impressive, it actually isn’t impressive when you consider the quality of Michigan’s opponents.
Michigan plays in the Big Ten, a conference known for grinding games that feature physical running and relatively sparse offensive talent. In that conference, the Wolverines’ toughest opposing offense was Ohio State. But the Buckeyes are down on offense this year, having declined significantly relative to last year. This season, Ohio State ranks 45th in total offense.
Michigan’s first playoff opponent, Alabama, has likewise been underwhelming offensively this season. Bama ranks 64th in total offense, tied with Wisconsin. So, Michigan’s total defense ranking is rather meaningless because the Wolverines haven’t been tested by good offenses.
We don’t know how Michigan’s defense would hold up against a strong offense, but we can speculate. In those two games, against Ohio State and Alabama, Michigan allowed 24 and 20 points, respectively. These are not impressive scores. A truly elite defense would hold both opponents to a lower score line.
On the other side, an elite offense will be able to drop over 30 points on Michigan. This line of thinking underpins my player prop justifications because my point is that Washington has an elite offense that will feature multiple players who hit the “over” on their yardage props.
Washington’s Elite Offense
The Huskies are elite offensively. They rank tenth nationally in total offense, and they are also well-tested. Whereas the Wolverines haven’t faced great offenses, the Huskies have proved themselves against great defenses.
Most impressively, Washington’s offense dominated Oregon’s defense twice. This is impressive because, despite having faced Washington twice, the Ducks rank 21st nationally in total defense. In their two meetings, Washington scored 36 and 34 points, respectively.
Washington’s offense is elite because it is stacked throughout. Its quarterback, Michael Penix, finished second in Heisman voting. UW’s offensive line earned the Joe Moore Award for having the nation’s best offensive line.
Finally, Washington is laden with great wide receivers. Rome Odunze leads the group with 1,553 receiving yards. Ja’Lynn Polk is second with 1,122 receiving yards.
When Washington scores 30+ points, it is going to lean on its offensive centerpiece, quarterback Michael Penix. In order for Penix to hit his passing yards “over” prop by a comfortable margin, he’ll have to throw for 300 yards, something that he will do against a Wolverines defense that is poorly tested.
Its strongest opposing quarterback so far has been Maryland’s Taulia Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa rarely reached 300 yards passing in a game this season. Against Michigan, he threw for 247.
Penix won’t have to do much better in order to reach 300, despite having stronger weapons and a stronger offensive line, and despite being a better quarterback.
Pro Football Focus graded Penix as having six big-time throws in his team’s Sugar Bowl win over Texas. Aided by top-caliber pass protection, he keeps his eyes downfield and displays strong accuracy and a powerful arm. His ball placement even on throws downfield is something that Michigan’s defensive backs will not have encountered. By throwing accurately into tall windows, he reduces the margin of error that the defensive backs of Michigan will have to work with.
Yet the Wolverines will have to defend around 35 to 40 passes from Penix, who, being his offense’s centerpiece, regularly attempts a lot of passes. With his volume and ability, he regularly exceeds 300 or even 400 passing yards.
NCAAF Pick: Michael Penix Over 291.5 Passing Yards (-115) at Bet365
This prop bet follows from the previous one: I like Rome Odunze to reach 100+ yards receiving, as he has done in each of his last five games.
Michigan’s top receiver faced so far has been Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr., who caught five passes for 118 yards.
With a better quarterback throwing to him, this is a stat line that Odunze, Penix’s top target, and a future first-round draft pick like Harrison, will replicate.
NCAAF Pick: Rome Odunze Over 89.5 Receiving Yards (-115) at Bet365
Washington’s Run Defense
It is tempting to like the “over” for Blake Corum‘s rushing total because of the success with which Texas ran on Washington.
It is true that running backs who are not as good as Corum have been efficient and productive against Washington’s run defense, but this is an erroneous line of thinking because it doesn’t account for the Huskies’ game-planning.
My point is that when the Huskies want to stop an opposing rush attack, they do. When Washington first faced Oregon, Ducks running back Bucky Irving ran for well over 100 yards. In the rematch, the Huskies were determined to stop the run and, accordingly, limited Oregon’s star running back to 20 rushing yards on nine carries.
Similarly, facing a Utah team well-known for its rushing prowess, Washington impeded a single Utah running back from exceeding 37 rushing yards.
I like Washington’s run defense in this game against Michigan because it is well-known for its reliance on the run. Led by Blake Corum, the Wolverines rank 17th nationally in run play percentage. Washington’s run defense will succeed because the Huskies will prioritize stopping Corum.
Michigan will anyhow at some point have to abandon the run, in order to keep pace with the Huskies’ potent offense.
NCAAF Pick: Blake Corum Under 105.5 Rushing Yards (-115) at Bet365
*The line and/or odds referenced in this article might have changed since the content was published. For the latest information on line movements, visit OddsTrader’s free betting odds tool.