The SEC and Big Ten have been the two best conferences in the country this year, and three of the best teams from each of those conferences will be in action on New Year’s Day. The excitement will start along the I-4 Corridor with Alabama facing Michigan in the Citrus Bowl, and Auburn will take on Minnesota 90 miles west in the Outback Bowl.
Wisconsin will look to avenge a loss to Oregon in the 2012 Rose Bowl eight years later in this year’s edition of the Granddaddy of Them All, and Georgia should be focused in this year’s Sugar Bowl clash with Baylor after last year’s disappointment against Texas.
College Football Playoff Semifinals: Averaged 19.3 million viewers!
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Alabama Crimson Tide -7 vs Michigan Wolverines, O/U 58
The pick: OVER 58
Motivation is a major factor in bowl games, and it’s hard to judge just how motivated Alabama will be since this is the first postseason that the Crimson Tide don’t have a chance to win the national championship since 2013. Alabama’s best linebacker Terrell Lewis and defensive back Trevon Diggs will sit out to prepare for the NFL Draft, and that will hurt a defense that has struggled mightily for a Nick Saban defense. The Crimson Tide still have a great secondary, but the front seven has had some problems stopping the run, and that gives Michigan hope coming into this bowl game.
Michigan’s Shea Patterson didn’t have the senior year that many were expecting, but he turned in a corner in his final three games. Patterson hadn’t thrown for 300 yards in a game all season until torching Michigan State for 384 yards in mid-November, and he followed that up by throwing for 300 yards against Indiana and Ohio State to close out the year. That give the Wolverines some hope that they can move the ball through the air against Alabama.
The best bet in this game is the over. Tua Tagovailoa might be out, but Mac Jones proved he can exploit defenses with the best receivers in the country against Auburn in the season finale. He helped the Crimson Tide put up more than 500 total yards of offense against Auburn, and Henry Ruggs III, Devonta Smith, and Jerry Jeudy are all playing in this game.
Auburn Tigers -7 vs Minnesota Golden Gophers, O/U 54
The pick: Minnesota +7
There shouldn’t be any motivation concerns with Minnesota. The Golden Gophers have the most motivating coach in college football in P.J. Fleck, and they blasted Georgia Tech in the Quick Lane Bowl last year. They won’t have outside linebacker Kamal Martin as he looks to improve his NFL draft stock, but this offense is incredibly explosive with Tanner Morgan slinging it to Rashod Bateman and Tyler Johnson.
Auburn’s vaunted defensive line will be missing a key piece with starting defensive tackle Nick Coe sitting out the bowl game. Offensively, the Tigers aren’t very great as quarterback Bo Nix has really struggled during his freshman year, and they might not be that amped for this game after winning the Iron Bowl. That makes Minnesota the play.
Wisconsin Badgers -3 vs Oregon Ducks, O/U 51.5
The pick: UNDER 51.5
These teams are cut from the same cloth. Wisconsin and Oregon both want to run the ball and play good defense, so the under is the best play in this game. The Ducks and Badgers had the 14th and 15th best defenses in the country per SP+, and they can both stop power running games. Justin Herbert might give Oregon the edge when it comes to the spread, but the better play is the under.
Georgia Bulldogs -5 vs Baylor Bears, O/U 41.5
The pick: Georgia Bulldogs -5
The Bulldogs might be set to lay an egg in the Sugar Bowl for a second straight season. Georgia will reportedly not have at least six key contributors available for Wednesday night’s game with Andrew Thomas, Ben Cleveland, Isaiah Wilson, Brian Herrien, Tyler Clark, and J.R. Reed all confirmed to be out. More players could join them on the sidelines, so this could be a shell of the dominant Georgia team we saw throughout 2019.
Baylor’s head coach is on his way out the door though. Matt Rhule almost left Waco to join the New York Jets last year, and he is rumored to be taking one of the available NFL head coaching vacancies in the next few days. Teams generally don’t play well with a coach on his way out, so the best option in this game is to wait and see if the line drops before taking Georgia.
Check out the latest college football betting odds.