Washington vs. Michigan CFB National Championship Game First Touchdown: Expert Picks & Predictions (1/8/24)
Get Washington vs. Michigan First Touchdown picks & odds for the (01/08/24) matchup as well as a player prop search tool to optimize odds shopping for Monday’s National Championship game.
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Washington vs. Michigan First Touchdown Picks
The goal of the First Touchdown prop is to identify which player will score the first touchdown of the game. Who will score the first touchdown in the Washington vs. Michigan matchup?
Blake Corum First Touchdown (+340 DraftKings)
It’s never ideal to attack the shortest odds in this very volatile market over the long term, but Blake Corum’s potential usage in this matchup cannot be overstated. He was Michigan’s biggest source of production when on offense this season as he rushed for an astonishing 1,111 yards and 25 touchdowns.
In the biggest game of Michigan’s season, they would be wise to continue to feed Corum as he should find instant success when his number is called. He faces a very weak Washington front seven, a unit that ranks 129th in Def Rush Success Rate and 125th in Def Rush PPA. That means the Huskies are often surrendering at least half the distance to gain on early downs in addition to letting opposing running backs find success in the red zone.
BLAKE CORUM pic.twitter.com/q8C2rFJhe1
— NFL Retweet (@NFLRT) January 2, 2024
That bodes well for the Wolverines as capitalizing on scoring opportunities is vital in what may be a high scoring affair, especially since the Huskies can score at a moment’s notice. Not only will utilizing Corum come with profound success, but it also negates potential turnover worthy plays by throwing through the air. Michigan has done a masterful job at protecting the ball this year, ranking fifth in Havoc Allowed.
Backing Corum to score the first touchdown also schematically makes sense as Michigan is one of the least explosive units in the league. The Wolverines rank 116th in Overall Explosiveness, most likely avoiding a potential deep passing touchdown to one of their wideouts. That means Michigan will look to make methodical gains at a time over the big play, increasing Corum’s chances of scoring as their playbook tightens up to a run heavy approach as they enter the red zone.
JJ McCarthy First Touchdown (+2000 MGM)
When inside the red zone, one of the bigger threats to Corum cashing his first touchdown prop may be from his very own quarterback JJ McCarthy. The Michigan coaching staff held JJ to a relatively conservative game script when dealing with his ankle injury, affecting his throwing ability as well as his mobility. Since getting healthy, JJ has been able to better utilize his legs in the red zone.
That can be in the form of roll outs, scrambling situations or designed runs. While their interior linemen have done a phenomenal job at run blocking with inside zone sets for Corum, their tackles have been rather underwhelming. Karsen Barnhart made the move to guard after routinely getting beat off the edge, being replaced by LaDarius Henderson with minimal success at the same position.
With Henderson struggling at the tackle position, that means McCarthy may find himself under pressure which brings an uptick in potential scrambling situations. Especially with Washington’s Bralen Trice potentially lining up across from Henderson, playing as one of the better edge rushers in the league.
Rome Odunze First Touchdown (+800 Caesars)
What the run game is to Michigan, the passing game is to Washington. Michael Penix Jr has been one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, coming off of a Sugar Bowl performance that resulted in 430 yards and two touchdowns. One of the big reasons for his success comes from an NFL level wideout room, led by star receiver Rome Odunze.
While Odunze failed to punch one in in his last performance, he still played a massive role by hauling in six receptions for 125 yards. He burned the Texas secondary at every level of the field, possessing all around elite talent at the receiver position. Every ounce of that production will be needed in order to crack a Michigan defense who ranks 12th in Def Pass Success Rate.
Luckily for Odunze, Michigan’s back end has actually regressed in their efforts of defending the big play as they come into this contest ranked 42nd in Def Pass Explosiveness. That leaves them prone to getting beat deep, especially if Odunze gets singular coverage as Ja’Lynn Polk and Jalen McMillan command defensive attention as well. Factor in the Huskies ground game most likely finding little to no success with their ground game against an elite Michigan front seven and Washington will be forced to throw at a higher rate in order to stay within scoring pace.