The last night of college football has a great chance to be the best. The high powered offense of the Washington Huskies will face off against Michigan’s physical defense in a battle of undefeated teams. Plenty of NFL draft prospects will be making their final statement tonight before going off to train for the combine. Here are players to watch.
Rome Odunze, Wide Receiver: Rome Odunze is the rock star of the Washington Huskies offense. So much is able to happen because of Odunze’s uncanny ability to stretch the field and haul in passes behind defenses. He is averaging nearly 18 yards a reception this season! Odunze’s playing style finds a great challenge in the Michigan defense. Wolverine cornerbacks are athletic and physical, likely unafraid to challenge Odunze at the catch point. This game will be crucial proving grounds for Odunze to show that he can win physical battles against more pro-ready cornerbacks.
Michael Penix Jr., Quarterback: For all the draft concerns about Michael Penix Jr., there is no one questioning his place in college football as a truly great quarterback. He has had a stellar year leading this Washington team and played phenomenal football in Washington’s toughest games to get them to this championship, including last week. Penix’s play tonight, fair or not, will go a long way to cementing his draft stock. A lights out performance against the nation’s top defense could assuage many concerns while crumbling in this spotlight will intensify them.
Troy Fautanu, Tackle: Keeping Michael Penix clean has been a big part of why the Huskies are so dangerous on offense. Troy Fautanu is a physical, mean blocker on the edge of the Washington offensive line and he is Michael Penix’s body gaurd. While Fautanu’s size is a bit more favorable to playing guard in the NFL, he has the athleticism to stay at tackle. Michigan will challenge Fautanu and the rest of the Washington blockers with a talented, deep defensive line and exotic blitzes and twists to keep Fautanu and company on their toes.
Bralen Trice, Edge Defender: Bralen Trice is by far the best defender on this Washington team. He is a versatile lineman who can be disruptive from across the defensive formation. The Michigan offensive line and their physical playing style will be a formidable match up for the Washington defense, but the Huskies coaching staff will surely lean on Trice to create mismatches up front and create some big plays.
Roman Wilson, Wide Receiver: If this game turns into a high scoring affair, somehow, it’ll be Roman Wilson who gets to put on a show for the Wolverines. While Michigan is hardly a flashy team on offense, Wilson is the guy who can provide the most spark. He is a speedy pass catcher who can do some serious damage after the catch. He makes up for his smaller size with big, big plays.
Blake Corum, Running Back: Blake Corum is coming off a fantastic game against Alabama where he was able to cut through their defense for a touchdown on the ground and scored another one as a receiver. He was responsible for quite a few of Michigan’s best plays on offense. His game against Alabama quelled some concerns about NFL translatability. He looked decisive, with great vision and a tough running style. Concerns about overall athleticism are valid, but Corum is such a cerebral back that he can compensate for them with his mental game. The Championship game will be a final chance for Corum to really show his whole skillset as he continues to etch his name in the Michigan History books.
Jaylen Harrell, Edge Defender: Potent pass rush will be how Michigan can finish off their dream season with a National Title. Pressuring Michael Penix for four quarters will be absolutely crucial and Jaylen Harrell is Michigan’s pass rush specialist. He will have a great challenge given Washington’s talent along the offensive line and this will be a great showcase for him to excel against top talent.
Mike Sainristil, Cornerback: Mike Sainristil is a fascinating prospect at the cornerback position. The former wide receiver has the athletic gifts and the ball skills to thrive at the position, but is undersized and still somewhat raw. Washington has three really good wide receivers and whoever Sainristil lines up against will give him meaningful tape for NFL teams to watch.