Jim Harbaugh isn’t playing Ohio State, so we might have a game here! The Michigan Wolverines are making a rare trip out west to face the Washington Huskies, in the first game in Seattle without Chris Petersen at the helm since 2014. DraftKings Sportsbook has put together early odds for notable games, and we’re here to break them down.
Michigan Wolverines vs. Washington Huskies
When and where
Husky Stadium, Seattle, Washington
Why the line is what it is
Because if you take away the near-dynasty of Ohio State since Jim Harbaugh’s return in Ann Arbor, Block M has been a very good football program in his time there. The Wolverines are 47-18 under Harbaugh, though 0-5 against their eternal rivals, and that cloud will hang over them until this isn’t the case.
Despite the khaki memes, Big Blue was 9-4 last year, and finished the season 10th in SP+ as well as 11th in defensive efficiency. Those four losses came to the No. 11 (Wisconsin), 9 (Penn State), 8 (Alabama), and 3 (Ohio State) teams in the final AP poll. You can put their schedule against any team in the country each season, and the fact they’re flying to Seattle to play the best of the PAC-12 on the road shows it.
Meanwhile Washington is +275 to win the PAC-12, which is the least competitive of the P5 conferences. New head coach Jimmy Lake takes over for Petersen, and a program that has always gotten the best out of three-star and low four-star talent will be asked to do the same under his leadership. Lake has been with Petersen since his time at Boise State, so the beats of the program should stay familiar.
What the Huskies also might need are some playmakers, as Jake Browning is gone and the rental of Jacob Eason only lasted a year. Jacob Sirmon and Dylan Morris should battle for the quarterback job, and there is some talent on the roster in RB Richard Newton, WR Puka Nacua, and TE Cade Otton, but there are questions on the offensive line.
Why it might change
UM has questions at the skill positions, including at quarterback with Dylan McCaffrey and Joe Milton battling for the job. There’s depth at running back, but the loss of Donovan Peoples-Jones leaves untested talent at wide receiver. Nico Collins and Ronnie Bell will need to be able to make plays, and a lack of depth behind them if injured could swing this towards the Huskies at home.
Where the value is now
A quarterback without a lot of experience going in to Husky Stadium on the road with unfamiliar pieces to open a season? Sounds like that might be recipe for issues. If this gets to +3 or higher, we’ll take UW and hope they hang around, but not for a ton as this number seems on very solid footing considering who is at home and who has more talent. This should be a very good football game, and the team that blinks the least in Week 1 likely gets the victory.
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