Michigan football has spent the last two seasons exorcising demons, finally getting over the hump when it came to beating Ohio State, winning Big Ten championships and making the College Football Playoff.
Next up on the to-do list: Winning a game in the CFP. Ohio State is the only Big Ten team to win a playoff game. Michigan lost its semifinal last season to eventual-national champion Georgia, 34-11.
Michigan opens this postseason run against TCU, with a possible rematch with Georgia looming in the national championship game.
“When you get over one mountain,” said Mike Golic Jr., DraftKings college football analyst and host of the GoJo Podcast, “then you run into another.
“The thing with Georgia is, they do all the stuff that Michigan does, but better than Michigan.”
Michigan (13-0) opened the playoff as the second-favorite to win the national championship, at plus-280, compared to 30-to-1 or 35-to-1 to start the season (kudos if you made that bet in August). Georgia (13-0) is the heavy favorite at minus-130, while Ohio State (11-1) is plus-360 and TCU (12-1) is plus-1800.
Michigan and TCU play in the Fiesta Bowl, while Georgia and Ohio State meet in the Peach Bowl, both on Dec. 31.
The national championship game is Jan. 9 at SoFi Stadium in suburban Los Angeles.
“Well, I think Michigan got a beautiful draw, to be honest with ya,” said Johnny Avello, who is the head of DraftKings Sportsbook. “It’s the best possible scenario for them. That doesn’t mean this is a gimme-win. This team (TCU), their quarterback, (Max) Duggan, he never quits, he’s one of those types of guys that never stops coming.”
Michigan opened as a 9-point favorite over TCU, while Georgia opened as a 6½-point favorite over Ohio State.
This marks the first College Football Playoff to feature two teams from the Big Ten, as the playoff committee turned away Nick Saban’s lobbying for his Alabama squad to get into the top four despite having two losses. No two-loss team has ever made the College Football Playoff, which will expand from four to 12 teams in 2024, even though gambling experts say Saban was right when he said Alabama would be favored against anybody but Georgia.
Meanwhile, most experts agree Michigan is better than it was last year, and Georgia isn’t quite as dominant as it was when it won its national championship.
The Wolverines have earned a reputation as a second-half team, outscoring opponents, 280-74, after halftime. That was particularly evident in its last two wins, over Ohio State and over Purdue in the Big Ten championship game. It would be wise for Michigan to get over that, DraftKings’ experts said, especially in a possible showdown with Georgia, where the margin of error should be slimmer. TCU also is known to …….