What one CFB analyst says UW Huskies’ matchup with Michigan is all about

Jan 6, 2024, 10:12 AM | Updated: 10:16 am

UW Huskies Michael Penix Jr. Rome Odunze NFL Draft...

QB Michael Penix Jr. and WR Rome Odunze celebrate a touchdown against Utah. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The UW Huskies are taking on No. 1 seed Michigan in the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday, and one college football analyst makes no bones about what this game is really about.

During an interview with Bump and Stacy Friday, Mike Golic Jr., one half of Draft King’s Gojo and Golic, shared what he’s looking forward to watching on Monday.

“Very excited about at least one half of it,” Mike Golic Jr., one half of Draft King’s Gojo and Golic, told Bump and Stacy Friday. “I think we’re going to understandably ask questions about this Washington defense and can they keep finding a way to make timely plays in this case now against a Michigan offense that has really found ways to win in a variety of ways over the last quarter of their season.

“But the real enticement is the Washington offense against the Michigan defense. I said it’s college football’s version of the 49ers versus the Ravens in terms of two really innovative schemes, a lot of really top-notch NFL caliber players on each side, and I think that matchup is ultimately going to go a long way in determining the outcome of the game.”

Washington’s elite offense is top 10 in yards per game and yards per play, but most importantly, the Huskies lead the nation in passing yards per game (350) thanks to Heisman Trophy runner-up Michael Penix Jr.

That group will face its biggest challenge Monday in Michigan’s defense, which has allowed just 9.5 points per game from opposing offenses this year, the only team in college football with a single-digit total there.

Golic believes Washington’s offense has a real shot against the Wolverines in part because the explosiveness of their pass game has allowed them to make up for a comparatively weaker defense. That said, it’s not an especially common formula for a college football champion.

“If you look back historically, even if you think of a team where one person or force so overwhelmingly dragged one side to the title, even Cam Newton’s Auburn, that defense still had some future pros on it,” Golic Jr. said. “Their offense actually was really the part that was devoid of a lot of talent outside of Cam. But no, it’s definitely an imbalance that does not happen often, especially in college football. I’d say it reminds me, NFL comparison-wise, of the early Patrick Mahomes-era Chiefs, where it’s like this offense is so explosive and can bomb from deep so often that it kind of, I don’t want to say renders the rest of the equation less meaningful, but it certainly gives you a wider margin for error.”

It’s why getting an early lead is Golic’s biggest key to the game. Golic Jr. noted the difficulty of Michigan’s defense – particularly their five first-half sacks against Alabama – highlighted by an ability to attack and confuse an offense in multiple ways. Golic Jr. believes they’ll also be far more stubborn with the run than was Texas, a team that found success on the ground against the Huskies before deciding to push the ball downfield.

Ultimately, it may come down to one player.

Why? Here’s what Golic. Jr. said when asked which of Penix and Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy may find more success in the pros.

“I lean towards Michael Penix Jr.,” Golic said. “He operates a grown-up offense, and both of them do to an extent, but Penix is asked to do more within the context of his offense. Especially in critical situations. That was the biggest question I had of Michigan going into the Alabama game. Outside of maybe TCU last year, when it’s gotten hard, Michigan has leaned on the run, they’ve leaned on the defense. When Washington needs a play, they put the ball in Michael Penix’s hand, and that signals something to me both as a player, and a watcher of the game now.”

More on the UW Huskies-Michigan

• Herbstreit: The biggest X-factors for UW Huskies against Michigan
• FOX Sports’ Klatt: UW Huskies’ Penix a top-5 pick, ‘better version’ of Pro Bowl QB
• Huard: 2 stats that jump out for UW Huskies against Michigan
• Brock & Damon Huard’s Playoff Preview: How UW Huskies match up vs Michigan
• Rost: No. 2 UW still getting ‘very little’ respect after CFP semis win

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