NCAA Football: Big Ten Football Championship-Michigan at Iowa

HOUSTON -- Plenty of college football teams featured at least one future NFL wide receiver this year. A handful of lucky programs have two. Washington has three.

Biletnikoff Award finalist Rome Odunze was second nationally with more than 1,500 yards receiving, but Ja'Lynn Polk is close behind with just over 1,100 yards. And though limited by injury, Jalen McMillan still posted 39 catches for 526 yards, 131 of which came against Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game. 

Odunze and Polk are among the top draft-eligible wide receivers, according to CBS Sports' Prospect Rankings, but McMillan is a proven veteran and high-level playmaker in his own right. 

Michigan secondary coordinator and defensive backs coach Steve Clinkscale has been preparing his unit for the diversified passing attack that will hit every corner of the field. He joked that Odunze catches dang near everything, while McMillan is a player who can get lost underneath. The sheer number of targets can be eye-popping, but the Wolverines have to play under control. 

"Don't panic is the biggest thing," Clinkscale said. "As you watch their film, there's a ton of pass interferences, a ton. A lot of it's because the ball is back shoulder underthrown. Don't panic. Get that timing. Once we get adjusted to that, you may have a couple of PIs, but be aggressive.

"We talk about defensive football being like a boxing match," he continued, "you've always got to see what they're throwing, feel them out a little bit, then adjust, then do something when they adjust and keep playing chess and not checkers."

The command point of the No. 1 passing offense is quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who stresses defenses more than almost any quarterback in recent college football. Penix threw 108 passes of more than 20 yards downfield, the most of any passer over the past five years. His adjusted completion percentage on those passes ranked top 10 in college football. His average depth of target ranks top 15 nationally at 10.9 yards per attempt. 

His adjusted completion percentage is better than every player in front of him. To put it simply, Penix throws tougher passes than almost any player in college football and completes them at a ridiculous rate. 

"He's just got the 'It' factor," Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. "He's got no conscience when he's throwing one of those balls into the tight window, and the confidence that he can put it in there and his receivers are going to make a play. I mean, that's scary good." 

The Huskies faced a highly-rated Texas defense one week ago. Quickly, it became clear that the Longhorns could not hang with the receivers. Penix and offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb diced UT to pieces, using both misdirection and the deep passing game to frustrate opposing DBs. 

"For us it's just going to come down to being technically sound, being fundamentally sound, being where we need to be when the ball is in the air, being in the right zones and not giving up any plays or easy throws," Wolverines DB Mike Sainristil said. "It's going to be a good game."

All-American cornerback Will Johnson leads a talented group of playmakers in the Michigan secondary. He emphasized that good defensive back play won't be enough, especially going against what has been named college football's best offensive line. 

"Obviously our DBs have to stop their receivers but it's about getting pressure, showing different looks," Johnson said. "The way we run our defense is going to be huge just playing 11-on-1 defense and executing." 

Michigan featured the second-best pass defense in college football during a 14-0 run to the College Football Playoff National Championship; however, it played just two top-50 passing offenses. Five, in fact, ranked in the bottom 10 nationally, while the median Michigan opponent ranked No. 92 nationally in passing offense. 

Washington poses the toughest defensive test yet by far.

"It's a tremendous challenge," Michigan defensive coordinator Jesse Minter said. "They have elite skill. Their whole receiving corps is really, really good ... this is a bit more of a matchup game where it's an elite quarterback that can get the ball to his guys and is not afraid of throwing in tight windows, is not afraid to give his guys chances in one-on-ones. We expect the ball to be thrown downfield and look forward to the challenge of trying to defend that."