5 reasons why Michigan could struggle against Washington in the CFP national championship

Michigan v Maryland
Michigan looks to continue their undefeated streak

The Michigan Wolverines are favored in the College Football Playoff national championship game against the Washington Huskies. Michigan, led by coach Jim Harbaugh, has looked like the best team all season in college football. They boast an undefeated record and knocked off Nick Saban’s Alabama in the Rose Bowl semifinal round.

The Washington Huskies, led by Kalen DeBoer, also boast an undefeated record. The Huskies (14-0) defeated the Texas Longhorns in an upset in the Sugar Bowl in the semifinal. Washington had many close games in the regular season, and this has tempered the Huskies so that they may pull off an upset in the championship game.

How Michigan could struggle against Washington

#1, Washington’s fast scoring

Michigan (14-0) is like a well-oiled machine. It wants to run the ball and then throw the ball on play action to methodically make its way down the field to score. This runs the clock, and with its stiff defense is how they can guarantee a win.

Washington, led by quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and his wide receivers, Rome Odunze, Ja'Lynn Polk and Jalen McMillan, could disrupt this plan as the Huskies score fast. Whether it is big plays through deep balls or the talented receivers gaining YAC (yards after catch), the Washington passing attack will be a handful for Michigan.

#2, Washington’s linebackers

On the other side of the ball, Michigan will have to worry about Washington’s linebackers.

If the Huskies’ linebackers can stuff the run, this will turn Michigan’s offense to be one-dimensional. Second-and-4 will become second-and-8. This will put more pressure on J.J. McCarthy to make plays with his arm. While McCarthy has this ability, Washington’s defense is more accustomed to playing in wild shootout games.

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#3, Michigan's wide receiver depth

The weakest part of Michigan’s offense is its receiving game.

Roman Wilson is a solid receiver who had over 700 yards in the regular season. The next highest receiving yards for Michigan was from a tight end, Colston Loveland, at 585 yards. Wilson was dominant scoring-wise with 12 touchdowns. Washington will focus on taking away Wilson and Loveland, and if they are successful, the Huskies defense will halt Michigan’s passing game.

#4, J.J McCarthy’s big arm

Washington will want to stay true to who it was during the season with its big offensive plays. If Michigan’s run game collapses, J.J. McCarthy will have to air it out to keep pace with Michael Penix Jr. This could lead to interceptions or more three-and-outs without gaining field position.

Michigan’s identity is in its physical defense, powerful run game and J.J. McCarthy making the correct throw. In a shootout, these comforts go out the window and will put Michigan in a dangerous position.

#5, Michigan penalties

Michigan being the overall bigger and physical team will allow it to push Washington around.

Football is a physical game, and the emotions of the game could overtake some Michigan players at the moment. Both teams have great young players, but they are all college students now playing on the national stage. Every penalty becomes much more impactful.

If Michigan’s offensive line commits too many holding penalties or Washington’s speedy wide receivers instigate Michigan’s defensive backs to commit pass interference, then the Huskies can easily take advantage of these situations.

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