Yesterday was more of the same when it comes to the CFP semis. We had two blowouts where the winner was basically decided at halftime (Cincy had a long long shot at HT). In terms of our bets, the Cincy/Bama under and Georgia -7.5 were both wire to wire easy winners. Michigan gifted us a late 8 to push on the over but based on the 1H it should have been an easy winner. Cincy +14 was always the wrong side but based on how well their defense played they really should have covered… the offensive play calling was awful.
Bowl SZN: 23-21-2 +0.93u
CFB YTD: 159-138-6 +8.72u
Penn State vs. Arkansas (-2.5) o/u 48.5
HOGSSSSSS. I have a ton of faith in Sam Pittman here. Pittman is the type of coach that I love to back in Bowl SZN. He is a rah-rah guy and will have his player motivated, especially since Arkansas hasn’t been in a bowl game in 5 years, and now they are playing Penn State on New Year’s Day. Meanwhile, James Franklin has this Penn State program in such a weird spot. He is staying after a lot of speculation that he would switch jobs and it seems like this program just won’t ever get over the hump with Franklin. Penn State is also very short-handed here. They will be without their DC, at least three defensive starters including their two leading tacklers, and most importantly their star WR Jahan Dotson who is as important to their offense as any skill position player in the country. I think without Dotson this Penn State offense that already had issues will struggle to score. Even without Treylon Burks, I think the Hogs offense will just be able to run it straight down Penn State’s throats without their stud LBs. Sam Pittman is 14-7-1 ATS as the Hogs’ head coach.
Picks: 1.5u Arkansas +3.5, 1u Arkansas ML +135 (still like at -3 or better for 1.5u)
Oklahoma State vs. Notre Dame (-2) o/u 45.5
This is my least favorite game of the day. I think it really is a true coinflip but I promised myself when he got the full-time gig that I would back Marcus Freeman in any bowl game ND got. So… that’s what I’m doing here. The Irish are missing their best player on both sides of the ball but I still think their defense will be really tough against Spencer Sanders (who I hate) and this game should be low-scoring. When it comes to motivation, these two teams both narrowly missed out on the playoff but in different ways. Notre Dame did everything they could do the last few weeks of the season to earn a playoff spot and if Georgia would have beaten Alabama in the SEC Championship Game then Notre Dame would have been in the playoff. After what they did the second half of the year and what Brian Kelly did, I think the Irish will have a chip on their shoulder. Meanwhile, OK State was about 6-inches away from scoring a late TD to beat Baylor which likely would have pushed them past Cincy to get into the playoffs. I think they are much more likely to be the unmotivated, let-down side here. That being said, I love Gundy and think he will do his best to get his guys up which is why this is my least favorite bet of the day.
Pick: 1u Notre Dame ML (-125)
Iowa vs. Kentucky (-3) o/u 44.5
I like this one a lot. I think Kentucky has the significantly better roster here. Iowa has one of the best defenses but one of the WORST offenses in the country. And I mean really really bad. Meanwhile, Kentucky’s offense has been borderline elite with the discovery of Will Levis at QB and a great running game. Kentucky’s defense isn’t great but it’s competitive and they should be able to comfortably handle how pathetic Iowa is on offense. The Kentucky OL is elite and I think we see them run down Iowa’s throat and that will allow Levis to hit a couple of big throws. Cayts by 90.
Pick: 1.5u Kentucky ML (-130)
Ohio State vs. Utah (+4.5) o/u 64
This is one of the only games of the day where a team seems to be doing a true punt on their game (although PSU is close). It’s crazy that in this day and age a team could not care about the Rose Bowl but this Ohio State team has been to the College Football Playoff in both seasons under Ryan Day and were in the Natty last year at this time. For that reason, Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson (the best WR duo in the country) both opted out for this game. The Bucks will also be without their starting LT, their best defensive player, and they have a handful of other defensive starters that weren’t at their latest practice and are very much questionable for this game. On the other side, Utah is playing in their first Rose Bowl ever and VERY MUCH want to play in this game. They have been one of the hottest teams in CFB the second half of the season and despite having a handful of players declared for the NFL Draft, they have ZERO opt-outs for this game. Kyle Whittingham is 11-3 SU in bowl games at Utah and seems to always have his guys ready. Cam Rising has been great since taking over at QB for Utah and I think he’ll eat up Ohio State’s secondary.
Picks: 1.5u Utah +7 (-120), 1u Utah ML (+160) (like spread for 1.5u at current #)
Baylor vs. Ole Miss (-1.5) o/u 57
I love Ole Miss here. It worries me because based on the market it seems like the incredibly square play but this is one of the rare occasions that I just don’t care. Matt Corral playing in this game is a statement. In my opinion, Ole Miss is one of the four best teams in the country and just played their worst football against Alabama this year. But they were the second-best team (by two full games over the rest of the pack) in the best division in football and no one has been more battle-tested. I think Kiffin and Corral just want to have a shit-ton of fun and pile it on here. Also, Ole Miss has quietly been greatly improved on defense this season from last season and even better the second half of this season. Baylor wants to play as slow as possible which is good news for the Rebs’ defense that struggles with tempo. I think Ole Miss just scores too many here.
Picks: 2u Ole Miss ML (-108), 1u Ole Miss/Baylor o51.5 (like over at current # still)
LSU vs. Kansas State (-4) o/u 47.5
This line has moved a lot and is one of the few games where I think the steam might have gone too far. Luckily, I bet K State on the ML when the game was still around a PK and I still like them to win but in what should be a low-scoring game those 4 points could really matter. If this line confuses you, LSU doesn’t have a QB. Max Johnson is transferring and Myles Brennan was going to transfer and then decided to come back to LSU but still won’t be playing in this game. They want to start their stud freshman Garrett Nussmeier at QB but he would lose his red-shirt if he played in the game which LSU doesn’t want (they submitted a waiver which has been ignored by the NCAA which is bad news). Therefore, LSU has the choice between two walk-on QBs with no playing time or a WR running wildcat for this game.
LSU also has multiple opt-outs on both sides of the ball and should be very short at WR and in the front-7 on defense. Kansas State is great on the front-7 and they should be able to get after the inexperienced QBs and stop the run which is what LSU will probably look to do a lot. On the other side, Kansas State should be able to run wild with Deuce Vaughn with LSU missing starters on the DL. I can’t make a case at all for LSU, especially without Coach O to get the boys fired up.
Pick: 1.5u Kansas State ML (-105) (would play for 1u at current # if you need action here)
That’s it for the final preview until the National Championship! Let’s finish strong and as always, Go Dawgs!