Michigan Most Popular Bet to Win 2016 College Football National Championship

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIJuly 22, 2016

University of Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh watches batting practice before a baseball game between the Detroit Tigers and the Oakland Athletics, Wednesday, April 27, 2016, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Associated Press

The Michigan Wolverines are gaining traction as the favorite to win the college football national championship—at least among bettors who are wagering on who will win it all this coming season.

ESPN.com's David Purdum reported Thursday that Michigan has the most bets to win the third annual College Football Playoff at SuperBook and William Hill's Nevada book in Las Vegas.  

Purdum added that reigning national champion Alabama remains the No. 1 national title favorite, but the Wolverines have moved up to the second favorite from 15-1 to 7-1 as a result of the bets.

Much of Michigan's momentum has to do with head coach Jim Harbaugh, who went 10-3 in his first season at the helm in 2015 and guided the Wolverines to a Citrus Bowl victory. Other than a blowout loss in the regular-season finale to Ohio State, Michigan was competitive in every contest.

In addition to the promising immediate future that Harbaugh has inspired, he lured the nation's fifth-rated recruiting class of 2016, per 247Sports' composite rankings.

Among the prospects he landed was 247Sports' No. 1 overall recruit, defensive tackle Rashan Gary. Considering the Wolverines ranked fourth in total defense last year, Gary's presence in the trenches figures to make Michigan even more formidable on that side of the ball.

Hard-nosed defense and a crafty, smashmouth offense make Harbaugh's Wolverines a great fit in the Big Ten. With another year under his tutelage, Michigan figures to take a step forward in 2016, which may be enough to qualify for the CFP.

Among the biggest hurdles on the Wolverines' schedule is going to Ohio State on Nov. 26, where Michigan will hope to get revenge for a 42-13 defeat this past year.

Although the Buckeyes lost standout starters in running back Ezekiel Elliott, wide receiver Michael Thomas, defensive end Joey Bosa and linebacker Darron Lee, they'll present a stiff challenge to Michigan with veteran signal-caller J.T. Barrett still in the fold.

According to Purdum, Ohio State has the most action as a national championship bet at Las Vegas' South Point book, but Michigan is right behind.

Should the college football season unfold as bettors suggest, the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry should hold as much weight as ever, while Alabama will continue its consistency in the difficult SEC.

Given the spat Harbaugh and Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban have had about satellite camps, a prospective playoff meeting would be among the most entertaining outcomes of the 2016 campaign.

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