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Michigan vs. Ohio State odds: Who is the better bet to win it all?

Ahead of Saturday’s showdown, we explore which team has the best value in the national championship odds market

Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (left) and Michigan defensive back Rod Moore (right) butt helmets during last year's game. Michigan travels to Ohio State on Saturday in a matchup of two of college football's remaining four undefeated teams. (Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)
Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (left) and Michigan defensive back Rod Moore (right) butt helmets during last year's game. Michigan travels to Ohio State on Saturday in a matchup of two of college football's remaining four undefeated teams. (Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)Read moreMike Mulholland / Getty Images

The Week 13 college football card is loaded with rivalry matchups from coast to coast. But none are bigger, more hyped or oozing with more drama than Saturday’s Michigan vs. Ohio State clash of unbeatens in Columbus, Ohio.

For the second straight year, the Wolverines and Buckeyes come into “The Game” ranked in the top five. And for the second straight year, the victor will claim the Big Ten East title, a berth in next week’s conference championship game and all but secure a spot in the College Football Playoff — regardless of the conference title game outcome.

If you’re an avid college football bettor, you already know that No. 2 Ohio State (11-0) has long been a sizeable home favorite against the third-ranked Wolverines (11-0).

You also already know that the Buckeyes, who are looking to avenge last year’s upset loss at Michigan, have much shorter odds than the Wolverines to win the national title.

But which of these two rivals has the better value in the 2022-23 national championship betting market? It’s a question we ponder in this midweek appetizer as we await Saturday’s main course at Ohio Stadium.

Note: Odds updated as of 2 p.m. ET on Nov. 22.

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2022-23 College Football national championship odds

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Back in late May when FanDuel initially posted Michigan vs. Ohio State odds, the Buckeyes were a 13.5-point home favorite.

From there, the number slowly moved in the Wolverines’ direction, dipping to 11.5, 10.5, 10, and 8.5 before bottoming out at Ohio State -6.5 as recently as Nov. 14.

Following a couple of surprisingly close victories by both teams in Week 12 — Ohio State barely escaped at Maryland; Michigan needed a last-second field goal to fend off Illinois at home — FanDuel reposted the number at Ohio State -9.5.

The betting market quickly jumped on the Wolverines, dropping the point spread to its current consensus number of Ohio State -7.5.

All that line movement aside, oddsmakers firmly believe the Buckeyes are the superior 11-0 squad. That opinion also is reflected in the national championship odds.

» READ MORE: College Football Playoff odds: TCU makes move; Georgia still big favorite

Ohio State and Michigan respectively have been holding down the No. 2 and No 3 spots since the first College Football Playoff rankings were released four weeks ago. That won’t change when the latest rankings are revealed Tuesday night — the Buckeyes and Wolverines will remain behind fellow-unbeaten and No. 1 Georgia.

However, at FanDuel, the national championship odds gap between Georgia (-140) and Ohio State (+250) is far slimmer than the gap between Ohio State and Michigan (+1200).

The implications are crystal clear: The betting marketplace believes we’re on a collision course for a Georgia-Ohio State national title game. Anything short of that will be considered a massive upset.

Of course, upsets happen. And of all the remaining legitimate national title contenders, Michigan is the most likely team to create chaos.

And here’s the thing: The Wolverines don’t even have to win in Columbus on Saturday to rock the proverbial boat.

Can the loser still be a winner?

History most definitely won’t be on Michigan’s side when it walks into Ohio Stadium on Saturday morning.

Sure, the Wolverines finally ended an eight-game losing skid to its hated rivals with last year’s 42-27 upset win at home. But it’s been more than two decades since Michigan beat Ohio State in back-to-back seasons (1999 and 2000).

And their 38-26 win in 2000 is the only time since 1996 that the Wolverines departed Columbus with a victory.

However, given how the 2022-23 college football campaign has played out, whoever loses “The Game” will remain in the hunt for the College Football Playoff (and, thus, the national championship). Because after Saturday, we’ll be down to no more than three undefeated teams: Georgia (currently 11-0), TCU (11-0) and the Michigan-Ohio State winner.

That means at least one one-loss team is nabbing a College Football Playoff invite. The leading candidates: Clemson, USC and the Michigan-Ohio State loser.

Well, since the Buckeyes and Wolverines will head into Saturday’s showdown ranked No. 2 and No. 3, the team that comes up short will have the “best” defeat among one-loss squads. (Clemson’s lone blemish was an ugly 35-14 blowout at now-No. 18 Notre Dame in Week 10, while USC suffered a last-second 43-42 setback at now-unranked Utah in Week 7.)

» READ MORE: Heisman Trophy odds: USC’s Williams overtakes Ohio State’s Stroud

Another thing working Michigan’s favor should it lose Saturday: Clemson (vs. South Carolina) and USC (vs. Notre Dame) not only have to win this week to keep their playoff hopes alive, but both have to win their conference title games next week.

Then again, if Clemson and/or USC win out, they would have one more victory than the Michigan-Ohio State loser. Would the selection committee to take the 12-1 Tigers or Trojans over an 11-1 Michigan or Ohio State?

If that 11-1 team is Ohio State, almost certainly not. If it’s Michigan, possibly.

Playing the ‘What if?’ game

Other questions remain, too:

What if TCU loses one of its final two games? Answer: The Horned Frogs will be out of the playoff picture.

What if Georgia loses the SEC title game to LSU? Answer: Nothing happens to Georgia — the Bulldogs will get the chance to defend their title no matter what.

Would the committee take a two-loss SEC champion in LSU over any one-loss team? Answer: Unlikely. Even though the Tigers would have top-notch upset victories over both Alabama and Georgia, no two-loss squad has been invited to the playoff party in its eight years of existence.

Bottom line: As huge as Saturday’s Michigan vs. Ohio State game is, the team that falls short Saturday still has a pathway to the College Football Playoff. And that pathway wouldn’t have a lot of potholes.

Which brings us back to the initial question: Which team currently has more value in the national championship odds market, Michigan or Ohio State? Our answer is Michigan.

After all, if the Wolverines pull off the shocker Saturday, their +1200 national title odds at FanDuel will plummet. And if they lose, those odds might not rise considerably — especially if Clemson, USC or TCU (which hosts Iowa State) get upset on Saturday.

» READ MORE: Full sports betting coverage from The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Inquirer is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site. We provide this information about sports betting for entertainment purposes only.