By Chris Carlson – The bowl season has returned as we make are way to Friday’s National Semifinals and find out who will meet in the Championship game on January 10th. Bowl matchups can be difficult to predict thus betting on them can be very frustrating. The long gap in time between games can expose some programs and give more time for foes to study offensive systems. Coaching changes, NFL-bound players opting out, transfer portal activity, and suspensions all play an important role.
#2 Michigan vs. #3 Georgia: The Bulldogs return to the National Semis once again facing a newcomer to the last 4 standing Michigan Wolverines. Both programs load up on defensive talent and love to tote the rock as much as possible making this marquee matchup a war of attrition. Up until the Alabama beat down Georgia seemed far and away the best team in the nation. Can they bounce back and reestablish their dominance? It was a bit of a slow build this season for Michigan beating some good but not great teams until they dropped one to interstate-rival MSU in a game they were leading well into the 2nd half. As it turns out it was just the wakeup call Michigan needed and they took that determination into the Ohio State, finally pressing the breaks on the Buckeyes 8-game winning streak in the series. This game will be closer than some believe and this College Football junkie is siding with momentum.
The Pick: Michigan 23 Georgia 20
#1 Alabama vs. #4 Cincinnati: Just as it appeared that Alabama would miss the Top-4 this year here they are in a familiar position at the top of the Playoff Rankings. Last year the Bearcats were up against Georgia in the Peach Bowl, even held the lead at halftime. Increased the lead to a two-score advantage but ended up giving the Bulldogs a short-field and eventually loss in the closing seconds. JT Daniels had his way throwing for almost 400-yards versus that stellar Cincy defense. That said the Bearcats did force a turnover on downs, fumbles, and an interception. This College Football podcaster brings that up as sort of a measuring stick and yes this was a year ago in a shortened Covid-19 season. Alabama peaked in the SEC championship and one wonders if they can summon that performance twice in a row. Both sides of the ball of the line of scrimmage is not all the way up to standard but do you really doubt a Nick Saban team in this spot with all that study time? Cincy hasn’t seen a QB like Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young but let’s not take away from the Bearcats ability to play hard-nosed defense and pairing it with real-deal rushing attack in QB Desmond Ridder and RB Jerome Ford.
The Pick: Alabama 31 Cincinnati 20
Under The Radar
#7 Baylor vs. #8 Ole Miss: Baylor beat Oklahoma State in the Big-12 title game and overall has a lot to be proud of. Same goes for Ole Miss who put together a damn good season behind 2nd year coach Lane Kiffin. Winning the Sugar bowl for either team would be a helluva way to cap the season & build towards 2022. The Bears have the better defensive by a clear margin but they do give up 117 rushing yards per game. Although Ole Miss can put up points and feature a potent ground game their defense is pretty bad giving up a whopping 182 rushing yards per contest. Not a good thing considering Baylor is just around 10 rushing yards less per game which lends itself to ball control. If Baylor can limit their turnovers they should be able to grind out the victory. Side note Baylor had a few key players opting out.
Baylor 28 Ole Miss 27
#9 Oklahoma State scores a minor upset as a 2.5-point dog to #5 Notre Dame.
#11 Utah upsets #6 Ohio State as a 4.5-point underdog on the strength of the Buckeyes missing two of their top three wideouts & the strong possibility Ohio State sleeping walking.
#10 Michigan State vs. #13 Pittsburgh: Styles make fights as they say in boxing and that old saying fits here nicely making for a good little scrap here. I would pick Pitt but they won’t have their start QB.
#15 Iowa vs. #22 Kentucky: Both programs are built on rough and tumble fundamental football making this a dog fight and the perfect ingredients for a barnburner.
Against The Spread
#2 Michigan may lose but by less than the 7.5-points dog to #3 Georgia.
Take it to the Window
North Carolina vs. South Carolina will go over the 58.5 total points.
Written by Chris Carlson Host of The College Ball Show Podcast available at blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio & Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio