College Football Playoff Prediction
By Adam Uschelbec
College Football Playoffs
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic:
1 Alabama(12-1) (-13.5) v 4 Cincinnati (13-0) o57.5
Last years result- Rose Bowl: 1 Alabama 31- 4 Notre Dame 14
In the first game of the 2021 College football playoffs, powerhouse Alabama faces a formidable Cincinnati team in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic on Dec. 31 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Tide opened up as 16.5 point favorites, with the line dropping to 13.5 shortly after. The total opened at 58 points, only dropping to 57.5 as it currently stands. Let’s take a look at some key factors and trends to consider in this matchup.
1 Alabama- Alabama’s road to the college football playoffs has been anything but typical for them this season, squeaking out one score wins against the likes of LSU (20-14), Arkansas (42-35) and Auburn (24-22 in 4OT!). That being said, a strong showing in the SEC championship game against Georgia (41-24) has the Tide in familiar territory going into the playoffs as the top seed. Alabama is 7 for 13 this year against the spread overall, and 6-5 ATS when favored by 13.5 points or more. Bama’s offense has scored an average of 42.5 points per game this season, but will be tested by a Cincinnati defense that has been praised all season as one of the best in the nation, allowing only 16.1 points per game to opponents.
4 Cincinnati- The Bearcats come to Arlington as the only undefeated playoff participant. After beating Houston 35-20 in the AAC Championship Game, Cincinnati is surely ready to prove that they belong in the national championship conversation. Cincinnati is 8 for 13 against the spread overall this year and score an average of 39.2 points per game, while only allowing 16.1. While their defense has been praised all season long, Cincinnati’s strength of schedule is something to keep in mind as they rank 100th in the nation, with their biggest test being a 24-13 win against Notre Dame on Oct. 2nd.
Prediction- 34-17 Bama
While I think Cincinnati has the potential to keep this game close early on, Nick Saban and the Tide will come in prepared to attack this Bearcats defense and
keep them on their toes. I have less confidence in Cincinnati’s offense putting the ball in the endzone against a top tier SEC defense such as Alabama’s. Expect Cincinnati to make some key stops early and keep this game interesting (and low scoring) into the 2nd half, before Bama’s offense catches their stride and puts this game away late.
Capital One Orange Bowl:
2 Michigan (12-1) v 3 Georgia (-7.5) (12-1) o45
Last year’s result- Sugar Bowl: 3 Ohio State 49- 2 Clemson 28
The #2 ranked Michigan Wolverines face off against the #3 ranked Georgia Bulldogs in the Capital One Orange Bowl on Dec. 31 at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. Georgia opened as 7.5 point favorites and the line has yet to waiver, while the total in this game has gone up to 45 points after opening in the books at 43. Let’s break down these teams key stats and trends to consider when looking at this game.
2 Michigan- The Wolverines made their way into the College football playoffs by finishing out their season strong with a long awaited win over Ohio State (42-27) and a dominant showing against Iowa (42-3) in the Big Ten Championship Game. Michigan is 11 for 13 this season against the spread in all contests, with their only loss coming against Michigan State (37-33) on Oct. 30th. Michigan also scores an average of 37.7 points per game, while only allowing 16.1 to opponents this season.
3 Georgia- Georgia comes into the College football playoffs after a disappointing 41-24 loss to Alabama in the SEC championship game. The Bulldogs are 8 for 13 against the spread this season, and average 39.4 ppg, scoring 30 points in all but 2 of their contests (Clemson & Alabama); while their defense has been dominant, only allowing an average of 9.5 points to opponents.
Prediction- 27-21 Georgia
While I think Michigan’s defense will be able to limit the Bulldog’s offense, I expect Georgia to come into this game ready to bounce back from their poor showing against Alabama in the SEC Championship game. Giving up 41 points after not allowing more than 17 from any other opponent was a major eye
opener for the Bulldog’s defense, who should respond with a strong showing. Overall I expect this game to be a close battle of defenses with Georgia prevailing for a chance at a potential rematch with the Crimson Tide to take home the CFP trophy.