College Football Bowl Betting Guide: The College Football Playoff is finally here and it’s time to fade the public
My deepest apologies if your last taste of my bowl betting guide was the Iowa and Kentucky preview. However, there are some solid bets in that article and I’ll repeat my record just as a form of self-torture before getting into the College Football Playoff games.
I went 3-3 yesterday and currently 8-11 for the week, but I vow to finish above .500 and in the positive for units. I will have the total units won/lost calculated for Monday’s bowl games, but now is time for the fun stuff. To quote Matthew Driscoll, and with every ounce of passion in that man’ voice,
Make sure you’re signing up and taking advantage of all the free bets and risk-free offers for the College Football Playoff games as we enter the final days of the collegiate season.
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VRBO Fiesta Bowl College Football Playoff Semifinal
Michigan (-7.5) vs. TCU | O/U 56.0
Let’s start with the public betting numbers because, in big games like this, everyone and their grandmother places a $20 bet “just for fun.” As of this writing, over 60% of bets and 58% of the money are on Micigan, with over 100k tickets accounted for. We knew the public would be on Michigan, but some weird reverse-line movement happened, with the spread opening at -9.5 and going down to 7.5.
The Wolverines enter their second straight College Football Playoff but in entirely different circumstances. Last season, they were massive underdogs and got smoked 34-11 to the eventual national champion Georgia Bulldogs. In that game, Cade McNamara was 11-of-19 for 106 yards and two picks before being pulled for this year’s QB1, JJ McCarthy. The sophomore quarterback raises the ceiling for the Wolverines’ offense and is playing the best ball of his collegiate career, throwing for 263 yards and scoring four total touchdowns against arch-rival Ohio State.
The Wolverines lost one of the great college football running backs, Blake Corum, to an unfortunate knee injury. However, the running game has not missed a beat, with backup Donovan Edwards taking the job and literally running away with it. The sophomore totaled 216 yards on 22 carries and two scores against Ohio State, followed by a 185-yard rushing performance in the Big Ten Championship.
Michigan’s physicality on offense will be a test for the Horned Frogs defense, which allowed a 100-yard rusher in two of their final three games. But, when facing the most dangerous running back in college football, TCU held Texas’ Bijan Robinson to 29 yards on 12 carries in a 17-10 win on the road.
Offensively, TCU is clicking on all cylinders led by QB Max Duggan whose grit and playmaking ability were on full display in the Big 12 Championship game. Despite Jim Harbaugh’s squad facing two high-powered passing attacks in their previous two games, this Horned Frogs offense is a different breed. Statistically, Duggan is the best deep ball passer in college football, ranking first in completion percentage and touchdown throws over 20 yards.
His favorite target is 6-foot-4, 215-pound wide receiver Quentin Johnston, PFF’s 8th-ranked overall prospect and #1 wide receiver heading into April’s draft. Johnston plays exclusively as an outside receiver on the left side, meaning All Big Ten honorable mention cornerbacks DJ Turner (6-0, 180) and Will Johnson (6-2, 194 pounds) likely will split duties defending the big weapon wideout.
Not only do the Wolverines have to account for TCU’s lethal passing attack, but Kendre Miller is having the best season for a Horned Frog’s running back since LaDainian Tomlinson. His 1,342 rushing yards rank 19th in college football, and he’s tied for the fifth most rushing touchdowns in the country (17).
That balance of playmakers is likely why TCU is 5-0 in one-score games during the regular season and almost added another one against Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship. Meanwhile, Michigan led the FBS with an average margin of victory of 26.7 points and played in only two one-score games, beating Maryland 34-27 and Illinois 19-17.
It is worth noting that Jim Harbaugh is 0-5 straight up and against the spread in his last five bowl appearances. However, this Michigan team seems like the final form of a championship-caliber team during Harbaugh’s tenure at Ann Arbor. Their starting center, Olusegun Oluwatimi, won the Big Ten’s Player of the Year as an interior offensive lineman. He and RG Zak Zinter both made first-team All Big Ten honors and anchor of those best offensive lines in the country. In a game where Michigan’s starting line weighs an average of 308 pounds, you have to go with the team that will win the trench battle.
I said this about Kansas, and it bit me in the ass, but there is something about this TCU team that I love. I don’t think the Horned Frogs have enough defensively to win, but their experience in close games is undoubtedly an edge.
Duggan and company should be able to counter most of Michigan’s haymakers, but the Wolverines’ physicality will shine through in the end. There is no better team in the final two quarters than Michigan, who outscore opponents by almost 16 points in the second half. If this game is close at halftime, hammer the Wolverines spread if it gets below a field goal.
TCU 1st Half Spread +4.5 (-110)
Michigan 2nd Half Spread -4.0 (-110)
Chik-fil-A Peach Bowl College Football Playoff Semifinal
Georgia (-5.5) vs. Ohio State | O/U 62.0
With over 95k tickets as of this writing, almost 70% of bets are on Georgia, with only 54% of the money on the Bulldogs. The spread opened with the defending national champions favored by 6.5 points and has gone down to Georgia -5.5 despite the number of bets and significant Ohio State opt-outs and injuries.
Sophomore RB Treveyon Henderson played through a torn ligament and fracture in his foot all season long and announced he would miss the College Football Playoff after undergoing surgery. His backup, Miyan Williams, also dealt with a plethora of injuries and has been dealing with an illness leading up to tonight’s game. He returned to practice on Thursday, and head coach Ryan Day said, “he’ll be ready to go.”
WR Jaxson Smith-Njigba received a ton of scrutiny for opting out after missing most of the 2022 campaign dealing with a hamstring injury. The junior wideout is a certified first-round pick, and hamstring injuries are nothing to mess around with, especially before pre-draft workouts. Even without Smith-Njigba, the Buckeyes post a variety of NFL talent on offense.
Led by Heisman finalist CJ Stroud, Ohio State brings one of the most explosive aerial attacks in the nation to Atlanta, averaging 44.5 points per game and 7.2 yards per play (both 1st in the country). Marvin Harrison Jr and Emeka Ebgbuka both went over 1,000 yards receiving and were named All Big Ten wide receivers. Not only does Ohio State score points at will, but they protect the ball at all costs. With only ten turnovers all season (tied for 2nd in the nation), Ryan Day’s offense holds a +7 turnover margin compared to Georgia’s -1.
Not only does Ohio State post one of the top offenses in the country, but their defense ranks 15th in yards allowed per play. Led by senior linebacker Tommy Eichenberg, the Buckeyes give up 19.0 points per game (13th in FBS) and allow 304 total yards per game (11th).
They also racked up 32 sacks, led by DT Michael Hall Jr (4.5 sacks), EDGE Jack Sawyer (4.5), and JT Tuimoluoau (3.5). However, Georgia’s offensive line has only given up seven sacks all season long, and those gaudy defensive numbers from the Buckeyes are nothing compared to what Georgia has done.
The Bulldogs’ defense is filled with NFL talent led by DT Jalen Carter and CB Kelee Ringo. Their #1 ranked run defense concedes only 77 yards per game while surrendering under 13 points per game (2nd in FBS). The bad news is arguably their best defender, Nolan Smith, suffered a pectoral against Florida in late October and is still tied for the team lead in sacks.
Unlike previous years, Kirby Smart does not have to rely solely on his defense to win games. Stetson Bennet, another Heisman finalist quarterback, transformed into Mr. Holiday Season with his dominating performances in Georgia’s last three postseason games, including this year’s SEC Title Game. In those three games, Bennett’s averaging 297 passing yards with ten touchdowns to zero interceptions.
The Bulldogs received good news this week as the medical staff cleared WR Ladd McConkey to play after suffering a knee injury that has kept him questionable since leaving the SEC Championship. Complementing McConkey is the Mackey Award-winning tight end, Brock Bowers. The sophomore star is the definition of a matchup nightmare, standing six-foot-three and weighing 230 pounds with wide receiver-type speed.
Last but certainly not least is Georgia’s trio of running backs. Kenny McIntosh (709 yards, 10 TDs), Daijun Edwards (681 yards, 7 TDs), and Kendall Milton (533 yards, 6 TDs) combine to average 5.5 yards per carry. McIntosh, a six-foot-one, 210-pound senior, also finished as the team’s third-leading receiver behind McConkey and Bowers with 449 yards through the air.
As a team, Ohio State averages 5.5 yards per carry, with Miyan Williams gaining 6.5 yards per attempt. Georgia allows less than 3.0 yards per rush on the season (1st in FBS). This matchup is the definition of an unstoppable force in the Ohio State offense meeting an immovable object in Georgia’s defense. And Kelee Ringo versus Marvin Harrison Jr should be one of the best battles of the College Football Playoff.
Typically, a better defense and better offensive line is an easy bet. But the public money essentially split 50/50 with 70% of tickets on Georgia makes me think that the big money (aka the sharps) is on Ohio State and the points in what should be a high-scoring, electric affair.
Ohio State +5.5 (-110)
OVER 62.0 (-110)
Lucky Lucciano Lottery Ticket = + 320
- Michigan 2nd Half Spread -4
- Ohio State Adjusted Spread +7.5
- OVER 55.5 in Ohio State/Georgia