Michigan Wolverines National Championship a Split Decision for Sportsbooks

Posted on: January 9, 2024, 08:38h. 

Last updated on: January 9, 2024, 12:24h.

The Michigan Wolverines (15-0, Big Ten) are champions of college football for the first time since 1997. Monday night’s 34-13 victory, however, delivered mixed results for U.S. sportsbooks.

Michigan Wolverines college football Washington
Jim Harbaugh hoists the College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy after his Michigan Wolverines defeated the Washington Huskies 34-13 in Houston on Jan. 8, 2024. The Wolverines’ victory was a mixed result for sportsbooks. (Image: Getty)

Before Monday night’s College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship, sportsbooks reported relatively split action on Michigan and No. 2 Washington (14-1, Pac-12). Though oddsmakers with BetMGM, DraftKings, and BetRivers reported taking more money on the Wolverines than the Huskies for the championship game, preseason futures markets rendered the night’s liability to be about equal.

BetMGM, which said 53% of the title game bets and 56% of the money was on Michigan, reported having a “bookmaker’s dream scenario” where they were rooting for the favorite, but for Michigan not to cover the spread. Though Michigan easily covered the roughly 5.5-point spread, the Wolverines’ victory was the second-best outcome for the book.

FanDuel was a rare sportsbook that took more action on Washington, with 55% of the tickets and 51% of the money on the underdogs. The book kept all of that action.

Big Bets, Big Losses

BetMGM reported taking a $100K spread bet on Washington before kickoff. That six-figure wager was retained by the house after the Huskies were trampled by three touchdowns.

Sportsbooks also won a bounty of bets and money on Michigan taming Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. One of the more popular player props was Penix throwing for more than 297.5 yards. Michigan limited the star quarterback to just 255 passing yards.

BetMGM said Michigan running back Blake Corum scoring the first touchdown (+275) was its most popular player prop. Those bets also stayed with the book after Michigan running back Donovan Edwards broke for a 46-yard score run in the first quarter.

DraftKings said it had a $20K futures bet placed in September on Washington winning the CFP National Championship at 18/1 odds that would have won $380K. The bettor reportedly didn’t hedge.

Sportsbooks also fared extremely well on the over/under, on which bettors heavily took the over. The consensus was 56.5 points. The 34-13 outcome easily stayed under. BetMGM said 60% of the bets and 69% of the money was on the over.

Harbaugh’s Swan Song?

There’s rampant speculation that Jim Harbaugh has coached his final game with the Michigan Wolverines. A scandal-ridden season that included Harbaugh being subjected to a three-game suspension for the program’s alleged spying on rival teams to steal their signs is expected to be the storied coach’s last in the NCAA.

Harbaugh was asked about his future in the immediate aftermath of returning Michigan to the throne of college football.

I just want to enjoy this,” Harbaugh said. “I hope you can give me that. Can a guy have that? Does it always have to be what’s next, what’s the future? Like I said the other day, yeah, I hope to have a future. I hope there’s a tomorrow, a day after tomorrow, a next week, a next month, a next year.”

As for whether Michigan’s title should have an asterisk because of the cheating allegations, Harbaugh said, “These guys are innocent.”