This weekend brings us the college football playoff semifinals, which consist of two potentially great games. One of these games is a possible game-of-the-year candidate as #4 Ohio State takes on the top-ranked Georgia Bulldogs.
Let’s get into my best bets for the playoff semifinals, for those of you who are looking to make money while also watching some incredible football on New Year’s Eve! Be sure to stay tuned to our college football odds series for more on betting in the NCAA.
All college football odds courtesy of FanDuel.
TCU: +7.5 (-112), ML: +260
Michigan: -7.5 (-108), ML: -320
TCU is a very good team that has put together close to a storybook season this year, but that will come to an end at the hands of a Michigan team that is superior in all aspects of the game. Michigan does a lot of what TCU does, the Wolverines just do it better. Michigan will control this game on the ground, and against Ohio State JJ McCarthy showed that he can win games through the air when opponents over-commit to stopping Michigan’s ground game. Michigan should be able to control the trenches and win this game on their own terms.
TCU is widely considered to be the weakest team in these semifinals, and there were even rumors that Ohio State would be moved up to #3 to “reward” the #1 seed with the weakest opponent. The Wolverines are well prepared for this matchup, and I expect them to come out on fire, motivated, and ready to play with a berth in the national championship game on the line.
My expectation for this game is that Michigan will march down the field on their first possession, chewing up the clock and punching the ball in for a touchdown. This will set the tone, their defense will hold TCU to 17 or fewer points, and Michigan will score at least four touchdowns. My final score projection for this game is Michigan 31, TCU 13.
The Pick: Michigan -7.5 (-108)
Ohio State: +6 (-110), ML: +188
Georgia: -6 (-110), ML: -230
This game will see the second-highest-scoring offense in college football take on the fourth-stingiest defense in the country. Ohio State is averaging 44.5 points per game, while Georgia has been holding opponents to an average of just 13.8 points this season.
Georgia ranks sixth in scoring offense, putting up an average of 39.7 points per game. However, Ohio State isn’t far behind in scoring defense, coming in at 11th and allowing 19.3 points, and that is including their blowout loss to Michigan.
That loss is the only blemish on Ohio State’s resume this year, and I think it is being slightly blown out of proportion. The Buckeyes are being doubted, cast aside, disrespected, even. This is a hungry, dangerous team. They weren’t even supposed to be here if USC had handled their business, and now nobody is giving them a chance to win. The Buckeyes often say “Ohio Against the World”, however, it usually rings hollow when they are heavy favorites dominating opponents. Right now, it really is Ohio Against the World, and that mindset combined with a high-flying offense that can strike downfield with ease and put up points in a hurry makes this Buckeye team incredibly dangerous.
When it comes down to it, elite offense will beat elite defense more than elite defense will beat elite offense. This will be the theme of the night, as CJ Stroud looks downfield to Marvin Harrison Jr. and his other elite wide receivers. They will be able to beat the coverage and connect on deep strikes enough times to get Georgia off their game, and the Bulldogs don’t have quite the same level of offensive firepower. Georgia can score, but they can’t strike through the heart of a defense with soul-crushing plays the way that Ohio State can.
I don’t love the Buckeyes spread, as I think this game will either be an Ohio State victory or a dominating performance by Georgia. If the Buckeyes are able to stay within striking distance, their offense will come through in the fourth quarter and make enough key plays to secure the victory. It is possible they come up just short and cover the spread, but there is too much value in the plus money for Ohio State’s moneyline to pass up this opportunity.
The Pick: Ohio State moneyline (+215)