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The final week of the bowl season is here and it brings us the two biggest matchups of the year as the College Football Playoff Semifinals kickoff this Saturday. From a handicapping standpoint, it is similar to handicapping a game from the regular season as all teams are max motivated and there are very few opt outs. Before we get into my plays for New Years Eve, let's revisit a bowl trend that we have been following throughout the bowl season.
As I explained in a previous article, there's a +EV trend of betting underdogs to win outright during bowl season. Let’s see how this trend has faired this season. You’ll see below that at the time of writing this article, underdogs that covered the spread, won their game outright 9 out of 14 times for a 64% hit rate. In the games in which the underdog covered but did not win, the margin of victory was no more than four points. This trend once again is on track for another very nice return on investment.
Underdogs Who Covered and Won Straight Up
Troy +3. Won outright 18-12
BYU +4.5. Won outright 24-23
Eastern Michigan+3.5. Won outright 41-27
Western Kentucky +3.5. Won outright 44-23
Air Force +3.5. Won outright 30-15
Middle Tennessee +7.5. Won outright 25-23
New Mexico State +3. Won outright 24-19
Buffalo +6. Won outright 23-21
Texas Tech +4.5. Won outright 42-25
Underdogs Who Only Covered
Miami (OH) +10.5. Lost by 4
North Texas +11.5. Lost by 3
Liberty Spread +3.5. Lost by 2
Kansas +3. Lost by 2
North Carolina +13. Lost by 1
MICHIGAN RB DONOVAN EDWARDS RUSHING YARDS OVER 128.5
My second play for the College Football Playoff will stay in the same game between TCU and Michigan. Donovan Edwards since coming in to replace Blake Corum has been fantastic. He put up a massive 216 yards on the ground vs Ohio State on 22 carries for an average of 9.8 yards per carry and followed up against Purdue with a rush per carry average of 7.4 going for 185 yards on 25 carries. Ohio State ranks 18th in opponents yards per rush while Purdue ranks 70th in that category which is more similar to TCU run defense as they rank 63rd in opponents yards per rush. Michigan's best offense feature all season has been their rushing attack. When going against a potent offense like TCU I would see no reason for Harbaugh to scale back the run game. It will keep TCU offense off the field and also open up some good play action opportunities for McCarthy down the field. I see Michigan giving Edwards a good 25-30 carries at least in this game where even a more modest 4.5-5 yards per rush can get us past our number. Give me Edwards over 128.5 rushing yards in this one. Would play up to 132.
PARLAY MICHIGAN ML (-305) & GEORGIA ML (-265) = (-122)
My next play I have for the CFP is a moneyline parlay between Georgia and Michigan. It is clear from my pick above that I am on Michigan -7. I also like Georgia to win the second of the two CFP games against Ohio State. Now I have my number right around 5.5-6 for that contest so with that number currently locked in at 6.5 this was the safer play for me. I believe Ohio State will be ready to revenge their loss to Michigan by showing up hungry for this one but I also believe it won’t be enough to take down Georgia. Georgia is made for these types of games and Ohio State has shown when they play teams that aren’t afraid to hit them in the mouth they struggle. That’s what Michigan has done the last two years to Ohio State and Georgia is a team that can play that style as well. Giving Kirby Smart multiple weeks to pick apart this Ohio State team is another disadvantage I see for OSU. This should be a good game between two big time universities but give me Georgia and Michigan to throw down for the National Title on January 9th.
By Brandon Kenyon
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