3 Reasons to Bet on Michigan to Win the College Football Title

Posted by Peter Boysen on November 22, 2016 in

Michigan and Ohio State tangle this weekend in just the latest meeting in a rivalry that has never disappointed — and has played a big role in shaking out the national rankings far more often than not. If Michigan can get by Ohio State — despite featuring a backup quarterback — and then they can win the Big Ten championship game against a Wisconsin team that will be more than motivated to play the spoiler — then they would almost certainly make the national semifinal. Need some more reasons to believe in the Wolverines? Check out some of our thoughts on the subject. Interested in seeing our odds to win the college football championship? Check out how we have handicapped the major contenders.

3 Reasons to Bet on Michigan to Win the College Football Title

Remember those three wins over top-10 programs

Michigan has already beaten Wisconsin, Penn State and Colorado – a team that many people did not see playing a big role in the Pac-12 but now could win the whole thing. If Michigan beats Ohio State but loses to Wisconsin in that title game, the Big Ten could send two teams to the College Football Playoff. In a year like this, with only one major team unbeaten in Alabama, and given the love that the CFP committee seems to have for both Michigan and Ohio State, I think Michigan would have to lose to Ohio State to miss out on the playoff. If Ohio State destroys Wisconsin in that title game, Michigan might still get in anyway.

Remember that solid defense

Michigan has a ferocious pass rush and some of the fastest linebackers in the country. Taco Charlton generated 41 pressures and six sacks in 2015 and should do even better even this season. Chris Wormley and Maurice Hurst also bring pressure from the interior of the line, meaning that opponents have to get rid of the ball in a hurry or sell out on pass block protection, leaving them fewer receivers out there running routes. That limits the options that opposing offensive coordinators have — and it also means that the secondary has less work to do. It’s not like they have a bad secondary either. Jourdan Lewis earned the top Pro Football Focus grade in 2015, permitting just 37 percent of targets into his coverage to turn into completions, and he led the nation with 15 passes defensed — and picked off two balls. He leads the Wolverine secondary again this year, and it has made opponents pay for poor decisions time and time again.

Remember the running game

Yes, Wilton Speight has gone down for injury, and now we expect John O’Korn to start again against Ohio State. There was some intrigue as reporters saw Speight walking and carrying his bags, without any visible injury to his collarbone, which had been listed as the area of concern. He did participate in warmups but did not play against Indiana. The Michigan offense took a while to wake up against the Hoosiers, but they ended up getting the job done. Even with O’Korn under center, the Wolverines have the running game to move the ball against Ohio State — as Michigan State showed in the big scare that the Buckeyes took last week.