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CFP Odds, Picks: Collin Wilson’s Top Bets for Georgia vs. Ohio State, Michigan vs. TCU

CFP Odds, Picks: Collin Wilson’s Top Bets for Georgia vs. Ohio State, Michigan vs. TCU article feature image
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Ryan Collinsworth/Action Network.

  • With both College Football Playoff games taking place on Saturday, Collin Wilson has dished out his top three bets for both games.
  • Wilson is betting a spread and total in Georgia vs. Ohio State and the favorite in Michigan vs. TCU.
  • Check out all three of Wilson's top CFP bets below.

The ninth edition of the College Football Playoff is finally upon us, as Georgia, Michigan, TCU and Ohio State take the field Saturday with hopes of advancing to the National Championship.

It all starts with the Fiesta Bowl matchup between the No. 2 Wolverines and No. 3 Horned Frogs at 4 p.m. ET.

Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan squad made it to the final four for the first time in 2021 before getting blown out by eventual national champion Georgia, 34-11.

Now, the Wolverines enter their second consecutive playoff as favorites of just over a touchdown over first-year TCU head coach Sonny Dykes and the Horned Frogs.

Behind Heisman finalist Max Duggan, TCU has personified the word “grit,” pulling off close wins all season throughout a schedule that never let up.

When that matchup wraps up, we’ll turn our attention to the Peach Bowl, as No. 1 seed Georgia takes on No. 4 seed Ohio State.

The Bulldogs have proven to be the best team in the country when they’re interested in the game at hand. Close matchups with Kentucky and Kent State showed their disinterested side, but their victory over Tennessee displayed how dominant they can be.

Meanwhile, Ohio State slipped into the playoff after suffering a 22-point loss to Michigan in late November. Luckily for the Buckeyes, USC lost in the Pac-12 Championship, paving the way for OSU’s first playoff appearance since 2020-21.

There’s plenty of betting value to be had in these games, so check out how I’m betting both College Football Playoff semifinal games below.


Saturday’s College Football Playoff Bets

The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups Action Network senior writer Collin Wilson is targeting for Saturday’s College Football Playoff semifinals. Click the team logos for one of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.

Game
Time
Pick
4 p.m. ET
Michigan -7.5
8 p.m. ET
Ohio State +6.5 · Over 62
Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAF Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.

Michigan vs. TCU

Saturday, Dec. 31
4 p.m. ET
ESPN
Michigan -7.5

The Fiesta Bowl will be the site when TCU makes its first appearance in the College Football Playoff to take on Michigan.

Under first-year head coach Sonny Dykes, the Horned Frogs were one of the most bankable teams at 9-3-1 against the spread.

Dykes’ Air Raid offensive system fit the skill set of the players inherited, while the hiring of up-and-coming defensive coordinator Joe Gillespie was instrumental in multiple key victories.

This will be Michigan’s second consecutive playoff appearance, as head coach Jim Harbaugh looks for redemption after getting blown out by Georgia a year ago.

Despite turnover at the coordinator positions, the Wolverines have improved on both sides of the ball. The 24-month maturation of the Wolverines’ offense was on full display in a blowout of fellow playoff team Ohio State.

Harbaugh, a former Michigan quarterback, is now two victories away from bringing home a national championship for the first time since 1997.

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TCU Horned Frogs

Gary Patterson did not finish the 2021 season as TCU’s head coach after more than two decades in Fort Worth.

The bulk of the Horned Frogs’ explosive offense was in place during his departure, paving the way for Dykes to begin with an explosive offensive attack.

Opponents that defend the tackle box lightly have dealt with a trio of flammable rushers. Running backs Emari Demercado and Kendre Miller along with quarterback Max Duggan have combined for 70 rushes over 10 yards.

When opponents elect to load the box, wide receiver Taye Barber and Quentin Johnston have averaged more than 2.6 yards per route run.

#CFB's Top 5 Fastest Ball Carriers from Week 12

3️⃣ TCU WR Taye Barber (@_UniquelyGifted) 20.6 mph💨@TCUFootball | #GoFrogs pic.twitter.com/Axoc0juiL6

— Reel Analytics (@RAanalytics) November 25, 2022

Dykes’ offense has been an appealing sight for fans and bettors, but TCU has consistent struggles in creating quality drives. The Horned Frogs rank outside of the top 50 in Success Rate on standard and passing downs.

Explosive plays that don’t find the end zone can create issues for this Air Raid offense. TCU finished 80th in red-zone efficiency, further signifying that explosive plays have been its primary avenue to points.

Dykes plucked Gillespie from Tulsa to lead the defense, and he has had an immediate impact on a roster that was near dead last in FBS last season.

TCU made a schematic switch from the 4-2-5 to the 3-3-5 stack, relying on stunts and slants to fill gaps. Excellent cornerback play from Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson and Josh Newton has led to 30 combined forced incompletions.

Josh Newton | Takes Interception 57-Yards TO THE HOUSE To Put TCU Up Big | ISU@TCU | 2023 NCAAF SEASON@BumpnRunFig @TCUFootball @TCU_Athletics pic.twitter.com/AgvO3U8NOF

— ATG MVP (@atg_mvp) November 27, 2022

Gillespie has received a better performance from his defense after halftime adjustments in almost every game this season.

Overpursuit has led to missed assignments, as TCU ranks outside the top 50 in all defensive rushing analytics. Havoc is not a part of the Horned Frogs’ formula, and their Finishing Drives rank still sits outside the top 100.

However, Gillespie has a defense that’s 40th in third-down defense, coming up with stops when the Horned Frogs need it most.


Michigan Wolverines

Michigan losing its offensive and defensive coordinator after a run to the College Football Playoff was unexpected.

Josh Gattis was highly sought after and given credit for the current offensive scheme that had so much success in the 2021 season. His departure to Miami allowed Harbaugh to promote from within, naming co-coordinators in offensive line coach Sherrone Moore and quarterbacks coach Matt Weiss.

The combination has been lethal against opposing defenses, using a combination of a dual-threat quarterback, explosive skill positions and an offensive line that plows.

"That's what a great offensive line can do."

See some examples of what makes b2b @JoeMooreAward winning @UMichFootball's OL so good. ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/Wq5lgcULoS

— Michigan On BTN (@MichiganOnBTN) December 18, 2022

Quarterback JJ McCarthy took over starting duties after Cade McNamara suffered an injury and never looked back. With only three interceptions on the season, McCarthy added 138 scramble yards alongside running back Blake Corum.

Since a knee injury ended Corum’s season, Donovan Edwards has asserted himself as the most explosive back in the nation. Edwards ran for more than 400 yards in the final two games against Ohio State and Purdue.

The Michigan defense underwent a coordinator change as well, with Mike Macdonald returning to the Baltimore Ravens. In exchange, the Wolverines would pull former Ravens assistant Jesse Minter to carry on the scheme laid forth by Macdonald.

Minter was named a finalist for the Broyles Award, recognizing the best assistant in college football.

Michigan ranks 16th in defensive expected points, limiting explosives through the air and on the ground. The defense is rarely penalized and holds the top overall grade in tackling, per PFF.


TCU vs Michigan Betting Pick

The coordinators for each side have played a large role as to why each of these programs will compete to play for the National Championship. Gillespie and Minter have been two of the best halftime adjusters in the sport, as both Michigan and TCU dominate passing downs in terms of Defensive Success Rate.

The inconsistencies fall on a Horned Frogs defense that ranks 128th in eliminating explosive plays in standard downs. The Horned Frogs boast a poor pass rush, which is critical to forcing McCarthy outside the tackle box.

The most dominant aspect of this game may be the Wolverines’ offensive line, running counters with plenty of pulling guards and tackles.

The handicap comes in Michigan’s ability to eliminate explosive plays on defense. TCU ranks in the bottom half of FBS in terms of sustained drives and converting red-zone attempts into points. Instead, the Horned Frogs rely on explosive plays, as they rank top-10 in standard down and passing down explosiveness.

TCU has similar offensive concepts as Tennessee, with the idea of stretching the field and running deep verticals. That offensive plan is diminished when cornerbacks can jam receivers and play tight man-to-man coverage. Michigan fields four defensive backs that rank inside the top 150 nationally in PFF coverage grading, led by cornerback DJ Turner.

Michigan will win this game because of the advantages it has in the trench on both sides of the ball. While Gillespie will make halftime adjustments to limit McCarthy, Minter will scheme to confuse Duggan with differing coverage and blitz schemes.

Look for the Wolverines’ coordinators’ creativity and ability to modify on the fly to be the primary reason Michigan competes for the national title.



Georgia vs. Ohio State

Saturday, Dec. 31
8 p.m. ET
ESPN
Ohio State +6.5 · Over 62

The comparisons are numerous for Ohio State and Georgia.

Outside of color scheme, these two programs are perennial top-five finishers in recruiting. Only twice has the College Football Playoff not included the Bulldogs or Buckeyes.

For all the similarities in blue blood success, it comes as a surprise that these two teams have met just once. Garrison Hearst’s MVP performance in Georgia’s 1993 Citrus Bowl victory serves as the only game of this series.

This will be the first time Georgia has ever been the top overall seed in the playoff after entering the semifinals last year as an at-large selection.

The Bulldogs lost an abundance of defensive contributions to the NFL from its National Championship team but returned with a new defensive coordinator and better offensive efficiency this season.

Georgia’s biggest issue has been periods of disinterest, as Kentucky and Missouri kept conference games close. The Bulldogs led by just 10 points in the fourth quarter against Kent State before icing the game.

As shown in its victory over Tennessee, when Georgia is the best team in the country when it’s interested.

The last time Ohio State entered the semifinals as the No. 4 seed, the Buckeyes were crowned the first-ever College Football Playoff champions.

This year’s team reached the playoff on a much different path after suffering a second-half meltdown against rival Michigan. Ohio State will enter the Peach Bowl after 37 days of questions about Jim Knowles’ scheme and Ryan Day’s aggressiveness.

There are plenty of areas in which Ohio State will have an advantage over Georgia, setting up a possible second College Football Playoff title.


Ohio State Buckeyes

The Buckeyes took a 20-17 lead into the second half against rival Michigan. They were 30 minutes away from reaching the Big Ten Championship with a good shot of entering the playoff as an undefeated team.

Defensive coordinator Jim Knowles used a zero blitz concept with the intention of plugging up Michigan’s run game. But with zero blitz considered the riskiest of blitz packages, Ohio State’s secondary was left on an island against multiple explosive passes.

#OhioState defensive coordinator Jim Knowles said he's "become more comfortable" with calling a zero blitz throughout his career because the pressure it puts on the offense. pic.twitter.com/ccP0Rn9A3l

— Lantern Sports (@LanternSports) September 13, 2022

Knowles will stick to his roots of using the zero blitz, expecting Ohio State to execute better tackling.

The Buckeyes had achieved their mission by halftime, limiting Blake Corum to six yards on two carries and Donovan Edwards to nine yards on just five rushing attempts.

Georgia’s offense runs the lowest rate of plays in passing downs of all teams in FBS. Knowles will be tasked with getting Georgia behind the chains, and executing that will fall directly on cornerback Cam Brown and safety Ronnie Hickman in tackling at the point of attack.

Ohio State offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson will take over Tulsa’s head coaching job, but there has been no interruption in preparation for the Peach Bowl.

Ohio State will look to get behind a Georgia defense that has allowed the fewest amount of 10-plus yard rushes in the nation. The Buckeyes thrive in the passing game when CJ Stroud doesn’t face pressure in the pocket.

CJ Stroud and Marvin Harrison Jr. will save us all in 2024. pic.twitter.com/XEY4T1fjNs

— Indy Source (@SourceIndiana) December 27, 2022

Stroud ended the season with 32 touchdowns to just four interceptions when pressured by the opponent. The Buckeyes offensive line finished the season ranked top 15 in pass blocking, making a clean pocket the key to Ohio State getting into scoring position. Outside the tackle box the most crucial battle is the ability of the Buckeyes explosive targets to get free from the Georgia secondary.

The Bulldogs thrived in jamming Tennessee receivers at the line of scrimmage, so Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka must have clean releases.

Harrison lines up exclusively as a wideout and averages more than three yards per route run. Egbuka will attack the Georgia defense in a similar fashion as Tennessee’s Jalin Hyatt — from the slot with one of the highest yards-per-route-run marks in the nation.

If Harrison and Egbuka release off the line of scrimmage with one-on-one coverage, Georgia may have its toughest assignment of the season.


Georgia Bulldogs

The toughest opponent the Bulldogs have faced this season is enthusiasm. They beat Kentucky by just 10, yet Georgia was in full control with a 98% post-game win expectancy. Kent State failed to make a bowl this season but posted a 64% Offensive Success Rate in the second half against the Bulldogs.

But when the chips were down and the lights shined the brightest, the Bulldogs came to play against Florida, Tennessee and LSU.

Jalen Carter will be a nightmare for Ohio State’s offensive line pic.twitter.com/hFGnfR3LAn

— Kendell Hollowell (@KHollowell_) December 28, 2022

Head coach Kirby Smart and defensive coordinator Will Muschamp prefer pressure to be generated from the down linemen in the trench. The Bulldogs’ pass rush rank of 76th is more of a reflection of how rare it is that Georgia sends a fifth or sixth defender at the quarterback.

The defense has been successful in shutting down the run in every capacity, ranking 10th in Defensive Rushing Success Rate and sixth against ground explosives allowed.

Georgia prefers to play in quarters coverage from a 3-4 base, allowing a linebacker to serve as a “creeper,” also known as a pass rusher with depth. Quarters coverage, also known as Cover 4, uses man-to-man principles downfield to eliminate explosives.

The defense has been excellent at defending the RPO while knocking receivers off their routes.

Bulldogs offensive coordinator Todd Monken has been just as lethal with a war chest of weapons. Georgia remains a run-first team behind the eighth-best run-blocking grade, as Kenny McIntosh and Daijun Edwards have averaged more than five yards per carry on more than 300 carries.

Quarterback Stetson Bennett will look to move on to another national title game with his top weapons in tight end Brock Bowers and wide receiver Ladd McConkey.

Nearly half of Bowers’ targets have come in between the hash marks, putting Ohio State’s inside linebackers on notice.

McConkey is hopeful to see the field after suffering an injury late in the season. The sophomore leads the team in targets and has accounted for 37 first downs this season.


Ohio State vs Georgia Betting Pick

All signs in this game point to points being scored. Knowles acknowledges that Ohio State will utilize the zero blitz package in the Peach Bowl in an attempt to stop the rush at the line of scrimmage.

The Buckeyes finished the season 21st in tackle grading, but all eyes will be on the secondary’s execution in that area. Hickman and Brown both missed crucial tackles against Michigan, while linebacker Tommy Eichenberg created only one pressure in the game.

If Ohio State’s defensive scheme remains unchanged, Georgia’s offense is sure to take a page out of Michigan’s book.

The Bulldogs will run plenty of counter run plays while looking for Bowers and tight end Darnell Washington in one-on-one coverage in an effort to get behind the Buckeyes.

Bennett will lead an offense that ranks top-10 in Standard Downs Success Rate into scoring position, where Georgia has a heavy advantage on the Ohio State defense.

The question is whether or not Stroud will be able to keep up.

The Bulldogs’ secondary flexed against Tennessee, allowing no separation for receiving targets. Egbuka and Harrison are considered the best route runners in the nation — a plus for Stroud, who is expected to have time in the pocket.

If Ohio State’s offensive line can identify the fourth rusher in the “creeper” 3-4, Stroud will execute at a Heisman level with a clean pocket.

Neither of these teams plays aggressively against the clock, although both Monken and Day have put their offense in uptempo situations to change the pace of the game. The primary task for both of these teams is to get behind the respective secondaries.

The Action Network projection makes Georgia a 5.5-point favorite with a total of 66.

If Ohio State’s tackling struggles continue in zero blitz and Georgia allows separation for Harrison and Egbuka, this number will go over the total. Look for Day to be as aggressive as possible after an embarrassing loss to Michigan, while Georgia runs whatever tempo is needed to keep up.

Pick: Ohio State +6.5 · Over 62.5 or Better

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