Huard: 2 stats that jump out for UW Huskies against Michigan
Jan 4, 2024, 8:44 AM | Updated: 10:55 am
(Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
There’s just one game left to decide which of the UW Huskies and Michigan Wolverines will be 2023 national champions and end the season with a perfect 15-0 record.
Washington and Michigan will square off for the title on Monday in Houston after each won in the College Football Playoff semifinals. The Huskies beat Texas 37-31 in the Sugar Bowl, and Wolverines topped Alabama 27-20 in the Rose Bowl, with both games going down to the very final play.
Many of the numbers seem to favor top-ranked Michigan, which is the odds-on favorite to win on Monday.
But former UW Huskies quarterback and current FOX Sports analyst Brock Huard has two numbers that stand out that could favor Washington, which he shared during Thursday’s Brock and Salk on Seattle Sports.
“Two of the stats – kind of off the field stats in totality – that jump out is No. 1, the difference in strength of schedule,” Huard said.
Despite there being a reputation around the dissolving Pac-12 that the conference isn’t as good as the other top leagues in the country, that was hardly the case in 2023.
“The Huskies’ strength of schedule now that the hay is in the barn through 14 (games) was a top-five strength of schedule in the country,” Huard said. “Michigan’s is somewhere, depending on the computer, between 30 and 40. I mean, strength of schedule and who they played over the course of the season, ‘Oh, they’re out there in the Pac-12.’ Yeah, a Pac-12 that was pretty good, a Pac-12 that even in bowl season with all these transfers and everything else still has the best record of any of the conferences in totality. So it’s not even close. The Big Ten top to bottom, the SEC top to bottom, the ACC, none of them compared with the Pac-12 over the course of this season. That’s No. 1.”
No. 2 has to do with the Huskies’ biggest strength, which is their offense.
Led by quarterback Michael Penix Jr., Washington has the best passing attack in the nation and arguably the best overall offense in the country.
Michigan has arguably the top defense in the country, but there may be a catch there, Huard said.
“How many top-50 offenses did Michigan see this season? Top 50 out 130 teams? That would be two,” he said. “They saw two top-50 offenses. So the Big Ten can play defense, but it’s one of those things, can they really play defense? Or is it simply because the offenses like Iowa’s are the worst in the history of college?”
Or could it be, as co-host Mike Salk asked, that “the defenses are so good that the offenses don’t look good?”
Replied Huard: “That’s part of it as well. So there’s a chicken and an egg argument, no question about it. But in totality … I’m looking at Michigan and just the threat like, OK, this an elite defense and NFL defense … OK, who have they faced that pushes it to the test? Give me a little stress test of this defense. Somebody that can stress this defense with receivers, with an O-line, with balance, with a QB. They faced two of them in the top 50 all season long.”
Listen to the the full Blue 88 segment from Thursday’s edition of Brock and Salk on Seattle Sports in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post.
The undefeated, No. 2-ranked UW Huskies meet the undefeated, No. 1-ranked Michigan Wolverines in the College Football Playoff National Championship at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 8. You can hear the ESPN Radio broadcast live on Seattle Sports 710 AM, or streaming on the Seattle Sports app and SeattleSports.com.
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