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The College Football Playoff National Championship trophy. (Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire)
October 18th, 2023
With six weeks remaining in the regular season, Michigan has overtaken two-time reigning champion Georgia in the 2023 College Football National Championship odds.
A razor-thin margin exists between the top two teams, with a gap back to the rest, and All-American Brock Bowers’ recent ankle injury, which necessitated surgery, has allowed Michigan to overtake Georgia in the betting.
Let’s examine some top contenders for the College Football National Championship.
Steamrolling overmatched opponents has been the norm for Michigan, which leads the nation with a +32.7 scoring margin through six games. J.J. McCarthy appears to have taken a step forward in his second year at the helm, completing 81% of his passes on third down while displaying accuracy and poise in the pocket. Michigan plays stout defense and owns a top rushing attack, but McCarthy is the key to the Wolverines' championship hopes.
We’ll receive a better gauge when Michigan concludes the regular season with Penn State (away), Maryland and Ohio State.
Carson Beck has found his rhythm at quarterback, but Georgia will miss Bowers, a one-man wrecking crew who fulfills the same role for the Bulldogs as Travis Kelce does for Kansas City. A talented but young Georgia defense remains elite, but it's felt the loss of approximately 10 players to the NFL over the past two seasons. Doubt Kirby Smart at your own risk, though.
Bowers is expected to return by Thanksgiving, providing a boost to Georgia’s hopes for a third straight title.
Washington may lack the defense of SEC stalwarts, but the Huskies' dynamic offense makes them a viable national championship contender. The Huskies passed a key test versus Oregon in Week 6, they will look to stay perfect with USC (away) and Utah remaining on the regular-season schedule, and with Michael Penix Jr. and arguably the nation’s best cast of receivers (Jalen McMillan, Ja’Lynn Polk, and Rome Odunze), Washington has a shot to go a long way.
no context marv 🥋 pic.twitter.com/k9g8bZuJ5I— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) October 17, 2023
no context marv 🥋 pic.twitter.com/k9g8bZuJ5I
Shaky early-season performances against Notre Dame and Maryland led to some doubts about Ohio State’s viability, but the Buckeyes remain unbeaten through six games and can reinvigorate their hopes with a strong showing versus Penn State at the Shoe in Week 8. Ultimately, it all comes down to how Ohio State performs in “The Game” in Week 13. Ryan Day stomped Michigan 56-27 in his first season at the helm, but he’s lost two straight to Ohio State’s bitter rival and must travel to the Big House in Ann Arbor this year.
Florida State opened the season with a big win over LSU and won at Clemson in Week 4, and the unbeaten Seminoles control their fate. They’ll go as far as quarterback Jordan Travis, wide receiver Keon Coleman, and the rest of the offense takes them because the defense has shown its vulnerabilities, ranking 47th versus the pass and 62nd against the run nationally.
After a 10-point home loss to Texas and an ugly 17-3 win over South Florida in the first two weeks, Alabama appeared on the verge of falling out of contention during the first half of the season. They’ve managed to survive behind a top 10 defense and formidable offensive line, escaping with a narrow win at Texas A&M in Week 6, and Jalen Milroe has shown progress at quarterback. But the offense lacks explosiveness, and the Tide appear down at receiver after losing so many talented players to the next level.
Jim Harbaugh appeared on thin ice after the 2019 campaign, taking a pay cut after five straight non-competitive losses to Ohio State, and Michigan lost 16 of the last 45 games before spectacularly turning things around in 2021. Harbaugh has now directed Michigan to two consecutive wins over Ohio State, reaching the College Football Playoff the last two years, and the 2023 squad is the best team yet.
Michigan is the pick, McCarthy will lead the Wolverines to their first national championship since 1997.
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