After making it to the College Football Playoff last season, hopes were high for the Michigan Wolverines when the 2022 college football season got underway. Could they take the next step in 2022? Could they make it back to the CFP and go on to win the national championship? The Michigan national championship odds in the preseason (+5000) said, “probably not.”
Fast forward to Conference Championship Game Weekend, and the Wolverines are the No. 2 team in the CFP rankings and second only to Georgia on national championship odds boards offered by all of Michigan’s online sportsbooks.
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Michigan National Championship Odds
Of course, to even have a shot at winning the national championship, Michigan has to do one very important thing — earn one of the four CFP spots. You would think that would be a no-brainer as the No. 2 team in the rankings, but there are no guarantees in college football. There is one more game to play — the Big Ten title game.
The win over Ohio State locked the Wolverines into the conference title game against Purdue, and they are favored to win (-16.5 at Caesars Sportsbook). Being a heavy favorite does not necessarily mean they will win (right, Ohio State?).
But the Wolverines are better than the Boilermakers in almost every aspect of the game. The Wolverines should win this game if Michigan brings its “A” game and no one gets hurt. Purdue may keep it competitive and could even cover the spread, but don’t count on it.
A win over Purdue Saturday night in Indianapolis will likely earn Michigan a return trip to the CFP. A loss could knock them out of contention and potentially open the door for another team, but Michigan isn’t going to lose that game.
So, that leaves one other question to answer.
Can Michigan Win The National Championship?
Should the rankings stay as they are, Michigan will face TCU in the semifinals. The point spread will likely favor the Wolverines.
TCU has a solid offense that could put up a decent number of points on the Wolverines’ defense. But Michigan could also shut down the Horned Frogs. The Wolverines have one of the best defenses in college football this season (No. 2 in total defense, No. 3 against the run, and No. 11 against the pass). Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud needed 48 attempts to throw for 349 yards, and he got a lot of it in garbage time.
However, even if TCU does score some points, you have to wonder about its defense. Can it compete with the Michigan run game? TCU did a solid job against a formidable Texas rushing attack (No. 25 in the nation), but Michigan has one of the best run games in the country (No. 5).
Michigan should beat TCU and earn the right to face USC or Georgia in the national championship game. Should the Trojans upset the Bulldogs, Michigan will likely be favored to win and should. The Wolverines’ defense has already proven it can handle a dynamic quarterback with a prolific passing game (right, Buckeyes?).
But the Bulldogs will be favored against Michigan in the title game if those two teams meet again for a second straight season.
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Can Michigan Beat Georgia?
Can? Yes, of course. There were a handful of games this season in which the Bulldogs played down to their competition and were in danger of losing. But, as championship-caliber teams do, they got their act together and won. However, it will be much tougher to stage a comeback against Michigan.
At the same time, the Wolverines’ offense will face its toughest challenge yet in the Georgia defense (No. 4 in total defense, No. 2 against the run, and No. 22 against the pass). So, can Michigan win? Sure, it’s possible. They can certainly give Georgia a solid fight. But unless USC upsets the Bulldogs, the Wolverines will be the underdog.
There isn’t much value in betting on Michigan to win the national championship at its current odds. Yes, the Wolverines are a great team and should make the title game, but Georgia is a powerful team that will be hard to beat.
It may be better to wait and see if they make the national championship game. If they do and they face Georgia, take the Under.
AP Photo/Jay LaPrete