It has been a banner start to the season for the Michigan Wolverines on the football field and for those who wager on them with Michigan sports betting operators. The unbeaten team has the best scoring defense in the country (allowing 5.9 points per game) and a top-10 offense led by gunslinging quarterback J.J. McCarthy.
Fresh off a 49-0 shellacking of bitter rival Michigan State, the Wolverines (8-0) are No. 2 in the Associated Press top 25, with games against Purdue and No. 3 Ohio State at home and road clashes against Penn State and Maryland remaining.
The last two Wolverines teams under head coach Jim Harbaugh have come close, but in 2023 Michigan might have its best chance at shattering the program’s 27-year national championship drought.
The Wolverines are off this weekend so BetMichigan.com, where you can find the best Michigan sports betting promos, wanted to contextualize how likely the 2023 team is to break their long-running title drought.
Wolverines Atop College Football Title Odds
The 2023 Wolverines certainly seem to be the closest to the 1997 team that went 12-0 under head coach Lloyd Carr. In that season 25 years ago, Michigan had a similarly stifling defense and a high-powered offense on its way to claiming AP honors (it was a split national title that year, with Nebraska claiming the national title in the coaches’ poll).
The Wolverines certainly seem to be the clubhouse favorite to capture the CFP title in 2024, with oddsmakers from Caesars (+220), BetMGM Sportsbook Michigan and DraftKings (+225 each) and FanDuel (+250) listing Harbaugh’s bunch as their favorite.
That 1997 squad finished the year first in points allowed per game, at 8.2, while the offense ranked 55th out of 112 teams in points per game scored (25.1). This year’s team is averaging 40.6 points per game (No. 6 nationally) and allowing that 5.9 PPG average that leads the nation. This shows how well rounded the Wolverines are.
As for the Wolverines’ chances from here out, ESPN’s Football Power Index gives Michigan a 97.2% chance of beating Purdue in its next game on Nov. 4. After that comes a 50% of beating the Nittany Lions in Happy Valley (but FanDuel Michigan Sportsbook has UM as a 5.5-point favorite as of Thursday afternoon). From there, Michigan has an 85.9% shot at beating Maryland and a 53.3% shot at beating the Buckeyes for a third straight season to cap off the regular season on Nov. 25.
If the Wolverines run the table (or avoid falling more than once) during that stretch, they’ll likely be bound for a third consecutive CFP trip, with this year’s team hoping to go a few steps further than other recent Wolverines teams.
JJ McCarthy Heisman Trophy Betting Odds
Michigan’s success this season hasn’t been a one-sided affair, though, with McCarthy quickly emerging as the Heisman Trophy betting favorite across several of the state’s top sportsbooks.
On Caesars Sportsbook Michigan, for example, the junior from Illinois is listed as the odds-on Heisman favorite, at +260, beating out Michael Penix Jr. of Washington (+280), Jayden Daniels of Kansas (+300), Jordan Travis of Florida State (+850) and Oregon’s Bo Nix (+1200).
With 1,799 yards and 18 touchdowns (to three interceptions) through the air this year and a QBR of 93.7 (tops in the nation), McCarthy has been up to the task. His success this season brings back memories of that 1997 championship team, which was led by future NFL starter Brian Griese at quarterback. That year, Griese threw for 2,042 yards and 14 touchdowns (to five interceptions), guiding the Wolverines down the field with ease to spark a historic season in Ann Arbor.
Fast forward 26 years and McCarthy is looking to mirror that success with the Wolverines, beginning with the team’s early November showdown at the Big House against the Boilermakers.
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