College Football Playoff Odds: Projections for the Top 15 Most Likely CFP Semifinals Matchups

College Football Playoff Odds: Projections for the Top 15 Most Likely CFP Semifinals Matchups article feature image
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Picture Credit: Katie Richcreek & Getty Images. Pictured, from left: Alabama QB Mac Jones (10), Ohio State QB Justin Fields (1), Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence (16), Florida QB Kyle Trask (11), Notre Dame QB Ian Book (12) and Texas A&M QB Kellen Mond (11).

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Despite the regular season not even being over and Conference Championship Week still being a week away, we have a solid idea of what the College Football Playoff semifinals will look like. For the most part, at least.

Alabama has clearly cemented its status in the playoff with or without a loss to Florida in the SEC Championship, leaving both Florida and Texas A&M on the outside looking in.

If Clemson does, in fact, get its revenge against Notre Dame in the ACC Championship, both of those teams will likely be included by the committee.

Finally, Ohio State will fill the final slot as long as it can take care of an inferior Northwestern squad in the Big Ten Championship.

None of those events are a given, however. And if Clemson can’t take care of business or Northwestern pulls an upset, Florida and A&M will be chomping at the bit for a spot in the coveted final four.

While we won’t know the four teams in the playoff after this week, we can still break down the most likely matchups to find the best value when lines are released. I did just that below, breaking down the 15 most likely hypothetical matchups between Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Texas A&M, and Florida.


Check out the Action Network Power Ratings for all college football postseason bowl games, and follow me on the Action App to see which picks I’m making ahead of New Year’s Day.


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CFP Semifinals Matchup Projections



Alabama Crimson Tide


Matchup
Proj. Spread
Proj. Total
vs. Clemson
-3.5
70.2
vs. Ohio State
-4.0
72.0
vs. Notre Dame
-12.5
68.2
vs. Florida
-12.5
70.1
vs. Texas A&M
-15.5
65.2

This version of the Crimson Tide may go down as one of the best since Nick Saban came to Tuscaloosa in 2007. The head coach recently compared this squad to the 2009 version that went 14-0 in winning the national championship.

Behind the best offensive line in college football, Mac Jones has put together a Heisman-worthy season. The quarterback has the highest NFL rating but has stood out in pressured dropbacks. Jones has posted an 83.5% adjusted completion percentage in 85 dropbacks with pressure with a 14:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

DeVonta Smith and John Metchie III have been the best weapons in the nation through SEC play, but tabs should be kept on the return of Jaylen Waddle. Currently rehabbing an ankle, the future NFL first-rounder is on track to return for the College Football Playoff.

Alabama will be a favorite against any other competitor in the playoff, but what separates the Tide is the play of the defense. Top-25 ranks in defensive Havoc, pass coverage and Finishing Drives set the Crimson Tide above all other teams in the FBS.

Patrick Surtain II leads a trio of shutdown cornerbacks that have limited SEC passing attacks since the Ole Miss game. Opponents may be able to post chunk yards in rushing attempts, but Alabama has been one of the best stop units in the nation in passing downs explosiveness.


Picture Credit: UA Athletics/Collegiate Images/Getty Images.

Alabama’s Potential Matchups for the CFP Semifinals

Click a specific matchup below to expand that betting analysis:

Clemson vs. Alabama (-3.5)
Matchup Matrix

The primary concern for the Tigers is the health of James Skalski for pass defense purposes. Mac Jones is the best deep passer in the nation and improves in adjusted completion percentage with pressure.

The Tigers will struggle against the Tide skill position players downfield with a rank outside the top 75 in defensive pass explosiveness.

The bread and butter of Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne has been standard downs Success Rate and explosiveness. The Alabama defense should be prepared with a rank of 13th in defensive standard downs Success Rate. The Crimson Tide defense will get enough stops against the Tigers to cover any spread up to a touchdown.


Ohio State vs. Alabama (-4)
Matchup Matrix


Although the Crimson Tide defense has posted some of the program’s highest grades in years, a lack of pass rush on Justin Fields could turn this game into a high-scoring affair.

The Buckeyes are elite in Line Yards on both sides of the ball, translating to Master Teague and Fields gaining chunk yardage on the ground. Alabama should have no issues of its own against a Buckeye secondary that has struggled in a limited number of snaps.

Nick Saban will be sure to study the Indiana game plan and execute against an Ohio State defensive unit that is outside the top 50 in tackling and pass explosiveness. Ohio State can keep this game close, but the difference in Defensive Finishing Drives between the two teams is what gets Alabama to the window.


Notre Dame vs. Alabama (-12.5)
Matchup Matrix


There have been mixed results for the Notre Dame pass defense most of the season. The Irish shut out the explosive passing attack of North Carolina but allowed 20 passes to exceed 15 yards or more against Clemson and Boston College.

Alabama running back Najee Harris gets his toughest matchup against the Notre Dame defense that has dominated trench play. The biggest handicap in the game is whether or not Ian Book will put enough points on the board to hang with Alabama.

That answer is more than likely going to be “no” with the Tide’s rank in the top 25 in Havoc and defending pass explosiveness. Notre Dame is a run-first team, but if the Irish fail to see standard downs success, this game could be a blowout by Alabama.


Florida vs. Alabama (-12.5)
Matchup Matrix


The market will steam the total into the high 70s in a game in which there could be a ton of points on both sides of the ball.

The top-five passing attack of Kyle Trask will go against an improved Crimson Tide back seven, but Alabama has not faced a tight end like Kyle Pitts. One other note is offenses that run the wheel route can find success, as Georgia had its highest Offensive Success Rate against Alabama by finding its running backs on passing plays.

Kadarius Toney had 18 avoided tackles this season and will keep the Gators in this game. Alabama may not cover this track meet, but it certainly will not be for a lack of gaining available yards. The Gators poor scores in tackling, pass coverage and Defensive Finishing Drives is the difference in a game that should rival an SEC basketball score.


Texas A&M vs. Alabama (-15.5)
Matchup Matrix


The biggest question of the game whether or not Texas A&M has improved enough since getting drummed for 52 points in Bryant-Denny back on Oct. 3.

The Aggies defense allowed the Crimson Tide to gain 60% of available yards and post a 67% Success Rate in standard downs. That opened up downfield passing where Mac Jones connected on nine throws over 20 yards.

Texas A&M finished the season ranked outside the top 50 in defending pass explosiveness. More importantly, the offense has not had the ability to blow out anyone except a South Carolina team that has an interim head coach. Every Texas A&M victory has been within two possessions, indicating that covering against Alabama is unlikely.


Clemson Tigers


Matchup
Proj. Spread
Proj. Total
vs. Alabama
+3.5
70.2
vs. Ohio State
-0.5
69.1
vs. Notre Dame
-9.0
65.2
vs. Florida
-9.0
67.1
vs. Texas A&M
-12.0
62.3

The 2020 version of Clemson has not been as smooth as years past.

Trevor Lawrence started the season with a depleted wide receiver unit and a new offensive line. The ground attack has not been the same as years past even with the return of running back Travis Etienne.

The offensive line is outside the top 50 in Line Yards, while the rush explosiveness is outside the top 75. The highest Success Rate of the team is passing in standard downs. Etienne’s yards after contact has dropped from 5.1 in 2019 to under 3.7 in 2020. Where the running back is most dangerous is in the passing game, as he boasts 11 avoided tackles and averages close to 14 YACs per reception.

The Tigers defense is still posting top-15 numbers in Success Rate, but leaks in defending the explosive play have plagued the team all season. The health of linebacker James Skalski is paramount to the defense after he suffered an injury before the loss to Notre Dame.

Skalski and Mike Jones Jr. are the highest-graded coverage defenders on the team, as their absence leaves Clemson susceptible to targets over the middle of the field. Performance of the safeties has also been an issue, as Tyler Venables and Joseph Charleston have allowed opposing passer ratings over 110 when targeted.


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Clemson’s Potential Matchups for the CFP Semifinals

Click a specific matchup below to expand that betting analysis:

Alabama (-3.5) vs. Clemson
Matchup Matrix


The primary concern for the Tigers is the health of James Skalski for pass defense purposes. Mac Jones is the best deep passer in the nation and improves in adjusted completion percentage with pressure.

The Tigers will struggle against the Tide skill position players downfield with a rank outside the top 75 in defensive pass explosiveness.

The bread and butter of Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne has been standard downs Success Rate and explosiveness. The Alabama defense should be prepared with a rank of 13th in defensive standard downs Success Rate. The Crimson Tide defense will get enough stops against the Tigers to cover any spread up to a touchdown.


Ohio State vs. Clemson (-0.5)
Matchup Matrix


There is no doubt Ryan Day will be looking for revenge after the Buckeyes were knocked out of the semifinals by the Tigers in last year’s Fiesta Bowl.

The key to this game is the Clemson defensive line getting pressure on Justin Fields. If the Buckeyes quarterback is throwing under two seconds per pass or allowed to scramble outside of the pocket, this could be a long game for the Tigers defense.

Master Teague III has become more elusive as the season goes on with 18 avoided tackles and an average just shy of four yards after contact. On the other side of the ball, expect Clemson to be in full aerial attack, as the Buckeyes are one of the best units in stopping the rush.

Safety Shaun Wade posted his highest coverage grades at the end of the regular season against Michigan State and Indiana. Look for Ohio State to do enough on defense to cash an underdog ticket in an outright victory.


Notre Dame vs. Clemson (-9)
Matchup Matrix


Plenty of analysts will be surprised on the market spread in a rematch in which Clemson lost the first iteration.

It’s expected that Clemson will be a double digit favorite after losing in South Bend. The second chapter in this game will include captains from both sides of the ball in quarterback Trevor Lawrence and James Skalski. Remember that heading into the first game, Notre Dame offensive coordinator Tommy Rees had held back a passing attack all season. The Irish beat the Tigers with 41 passing attempts, topping the national average in Passing Success Rate by 13%.

That playbook is now on film and will be digested by defensive coordinator Brett Venables. The return of Skalski will curtail the previous Notre Dame success through the air, while Lawrence looks to expose the poor explosiveness ranks of the Irish defense.


Florida vs. Clemson (-9)
Matchup Matrix


Two high-powered offenses will take knockout blows against each other in this one.

While both offenses prefer the pass, both defenses have issues against the deep ball, ranking outside the top 80 in defensive pass explosiveness. Both offenses rank top-25 in Finishing Drives, which can only lead bettors to an over ticket in this contest.

The advantages Clemson has on defense may be negated by a top-five special teams rank by Florida. Defensive ranks in tackling and pass coverage may keep the Gators from winning the game outright, but they are certainly a live underdog.


Texas A&M vs. Clemson (-12)
Matchup Matrix


This will be the third matchup between these teams in the past 27 months. Dabo Swinney is no stranger to Jimbo Fisher after previous head-to-heads between Clemson and Florida State.

The Aggies covered both games but never really had a serious bid to upset in the 2019 version with a late score to cover 17.5.

The Tigers may have no success in running the ball against an Aggies rush defense that ranks in the top 30 in Success Rate and explosiveness. If Texas A&M finds any kind of success against the Clemson air attack, there’s a chance for an Aggies upset.

Texas A&M executes its offense at a pace that ranks 119th in seconds per play, which may provide the best weapon in long efficiency drives keeping Trevor Lawrence off the field. The difference in this game is the Aggies’ offensive rank outside of the top 50 in Finishing Drives. Leaving the red zone with a field goal or no points may be good for a cover but would ultimately allow Clemson to advance.


Ohio State Buckeyes


Matchup
Proj. Spread
Proj. Total
vs. Alabama
+4.0
72.0
vs. Clemson
+0.5
69.1
vs. Notre Dame
-8.5
64.1
vs. Florida
-8.5
69.0
vs. Texas A&M
-11.5
64.1

There is a limited set of data on the Buckeyes against a strength of schedule that ranks outside the top 40.

The good includes an offense that wins in the trench and leads the nation in Passing Success Rate. The bad comes with a defense that is outside the top 50 in Passing Success Rate and explosiveness. In Ohio State’s closest game, the defense allowed Indiana to throw 10 passes exceeding 15 yards for an average of 8.5 yards in standard downs.

The offensive line ranks outside the top 100 in pass protection, as quarterback Justin Fields has as many sacks as touchdown passes. Those numbers can be attributed to both the offensive line and Fields’ scramble rate, which is up 4% on passing attempts in comparison to 2019.

Any team that can apply quarterback pressure and limit Fields’ downfield options may find success against the Buckeyes. Also keep track of special teams, as Ohio State has earned a rank outside the top 100, per SP+. A rotation of kickers has hit only 50% of field goal attempts on the season.


Picture Credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images.

Ohio State’s Potential Matchups for the CFP Semifinals

Click a specific matchup below to expand that betting analysis:

Alabama (-4) vs. Ohio State
Matchup Matrix


Although the Crimson Tide defense has posted some of the program’s highest grades in years, a lack of pass rush on Justin Fields could turn this game into a high-scoring affair.

The Buckeyes are elite in Line Yards on both sides of the ball, translating to Master Teague and Fields gaining chunk yardage on the ground. Alabama should have no issues of its own against a Buckeye secondary that has struggled in a limited number of snaps.

Nick Saban will be sure to study the Indiana game plan and execute against an Ohio State defensive unit that is outside the top 50 in tackling and pass explosiveness. Ohio State can keep this game close, but the difference in Defensive Finishing Drives between the two teams is what gets Alabama to the window.


Clemson (-0.5) vs. Ohio State
Matchup Matrix


There is no doubt Ryan Day will be looking for revenge after the Buckeyes were knocked out of the semifinals by the Tigers in last year’s Fiesta Bowl.

The key to this game is the Clemson defensive line getting pressure on Justin Fields. If the Buckeyes quarterback is throwing under two seconds per pass or allowed to scramble outside of the pocket, this could be a long game for the Tigers defense.

Master Teague III has become more elusive as the season goes on with 18 avoided tackles and an average just shy of four yards after contact. On the other side of the ball, expect Clemson to be in full aerial attack, as the Buckeyes are one of the best units in stopping the rush.

Safety Shaun Wade posted his highest coverage grades at the end of the regular season against Michigan State and Indiana. Look for Ohio State to do enough on defense to cash an underdog ticket in an outright victory.


Notre Dame vs. Ohio State (-8.5)
Matchup Matrix


Notre Dame’s ability to apply pressure on the quarterback will be on full display against the Buckeyes offensive line.

Justin Fields will face an Irish defense that is top-20 against the pass and top-30 in Sack Rate. Expect Master Teague III to be limited with most of the Buckeyes’ scoring coming on the explosive play. Meanwhile, Ian Book will find open receivers against the Ohio State back seven.

The handicap comes in whether or not Tommy Rees goes to the pass in standard downs, an element that was a huge success against Clemson.

These two teams have a pace that ranks outside the top 100, and with a heavy lean to the rush, the under would be the bet. Notre Dame’s defense will do enough to get Fields out of the pocket. If the Irish can prevent the big pass, then double-digit points on the underdog will cash.


Florida vs. Ohio State (-8.5)
Matchup Matrix


There is a case to be made for the under in this game.

Ohio State has been 62% rush at a pace of 104th in seconds per play. The best way to keep the Gators offense off the scoreboard is long, sustainable drives against a vulnerable Florida defense.

The Buckeyes have the clear advantage offensively in the trench and through the air. A rank in the top 25 for Offensive Finishing Drives should have the Buckeyes collecting more touchdowns than field goals.

The Gators will move the ball through the air, as Ohio State has struggled to stop passing attacks. Indiana created a blueprint for Florida, as the Hoosiers threw the ball over 50 times and posted five explosive drives.

If Ohio State turns the game into a high-scoring affair, the Buckeyes may lose any defensive advantage they have when fatigue sets in the second half. Ohio State should win the game based on offensive rushing ranks, but look for Florida to keep this within one score.


Texas A&M vs. Ohio State (-11.5)
Matchup Matrix


Texas A&M would be in a danger zone with this matchup.

The Mike Elko 4-2-5 is not built for passing attacks with a high Success Rate. The Aggies do not generate enough pass rush to get Justin Fields out of the pocket, but a top-10 rank offensively for Ohio State in Line yards and Stuff Rate may keep the Aggies defense honest in blitz attempts. When the Buckeyes find success moving the ball on the ground, Fields will soon hit as many play action and screen passing attempts versus an Aggies defense that is outside the top 50 against pass explosiveness.

The Texas A&M offense may not have enough firepower or pace against the Buckeyes defense. Ohio State ranks in the top 10 defensively in Line Yards and Stuff Rate, which should get Kellen Mond in passing downs early. Ohio State will do enough on both sides of the ball to cover two scores.


Notre Dame Fighting Irish


Matchup
Proj. Spread
Proj. Total
vs. Alabama
+12.5
68.2
vs. Clemson
+9.0
65.2
vs. Ohio State
+8.5
64.1
vs. Florida
PK
65.2
vs. Texas A&M
-3.0
60.3

Brian Kelly does not receive enough credit for the work being done in South Bend. There are challenges with academics and recruiting for a team that does not belong to a Power Five conference, but that aspect changed for one season in 2020.

The Irish joined the ACC and pulled off an undefeated regular season, including a victory over Clemson. The offense ranks top-20 in Line Yards and Havoc allowed. Although offensive coordinator Tommy Rees has leaned on a rush ratio of 60%, quarterback Ian Book has led an efficient air attack that sits top-30 in Passing Success Rate.

The heartbeat of Notre Dame is the defense under coordinator Clark Lea. His name will be floated throughout the playoff for other head coaching positions, as the Irish numbers are some of the best in the nation.

All season Notre Dame has ranked in the top five against the run in categories of Line Yards and Stuff Rate. A top-20 rank in pass coverage shows that Notre is as effective in passing downs as standard downs. This is a defense that can create plenty of turnovers, with a top-five rank in Havoc.


Picture Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

Notre Dame’s Potential Matchups for the CFP Semifinals

Click a specific matchup below to expand that betting analysis:

Alabama (-12.5) vs. Notre Dame
Matchup Matrix


There have been mixed results for the Notre Dame pass defense most of the season. The Irish shut out the explosive passing attack of North Carolina but allowed 20 passes to exceed 15 yards or more against Clemson and Boston College.

Alabama running back Najee Harris gets his toughest matchup against the Notre Dame defense that has dominated trench play. The biggest handicap in the game is whether or not Ian Book will put enough points on the board to hang with Alabama.

That answer is more than likely going to be “no” with the Tide’s rank in the top 25 in Havoc and defending pass explosiveness. Notre Dame is a run-first team, but if the Irish fail to see standard downs success, this game could be a blowout by Alabama.


Clemson (-9) vs. Notre Dame
Matchup Matrix


Plenty of analysts will be surprised on the market spread in a rematch in which Clemson lost the first iteration.

It’s expected that Clemson will be a double digit favorite after losing in South Bend. The second chapter in this game will include captains from both sides of the ball in quarterback Trevor Lawrence and James Skalski. Remember that heading into the first game, Notre Dame offensive coordinator Tommy Rees had held back a passing attack all season. The Irish beat the Tigers with 41 passing attempts, topping the national average in Passing Success Rate by 13%.

That playbook is now on film and will be digested by defensive coordinator Brett Venables. The return of Skalski will curtail the previous Notre Dame success through the air, while Lawrence looks to expose the poor explosiveness ranks of the Irish defense.


Ohio State (-8.5) vs. Notre Dame
Matchup Matrix


Notre Dame’s ability to apply pressure on the quarterback will be on full display against the Buckeyes offensive line.

Justin Fields will face an Irish defense that is top-20 against the pass and top-30 in Sack Rate. Expect Master Teague III to be limited with most of the Buckeyes’ scoring coming on the explosive play. Meanwhile, Ian Book will find open receivers against the Ohio State back seven.

The handicap comes in whether or not Tommy Rees goes to the pass in standard downs, an element that was a huge success against Clemson.

These two teams have a pace that ranks outside the top 100, and with a heavy lean to the rush, the under would be the bet. Notre Dame’s defense will do enough to get Fields out of the pocket. If the Irish can prevent the big pass, then double-digit points on the underdog will cash.


Florida (PK) vs. Notre Dame (PK)
Matchup Matrix


This matchup features a large contrast in offensive tendencies.

Notre Dame will methodically move the ball via the rush against a Gators front seven that has been incapable of stopping any offense on the ground. Florida’s ranks in tacking and Defensive Rushing Success Rate could forecast Notre Dame into nine-minute double-digit play drives.

Those drives would achieve the goal of keeping Kyle Trask and the Florida offense on the sidelines. Notre Dame has one of the highest coverage ranks in the nation and will be the difference as the Irish advance.


Texas A&M vs. Notre Dame (-3)
Matchup Matrix


Although these teams have not played head-to-head, both Texas A&M and Notre Dame know each other well. Defensive coordinator Mike Elko was brought to South Bend after a tumultuous season in 2016.

Elko since departed to take the same role with Texas A&M, as assistant coach Clark Lea was promoted to defensive coordinator for Notre Dame. Elko served as Lea’s mentor, and that reflects in the defensive numbers at Notre Dame.

These two offenses lean on the rush in standard downs and rank outside the top 100 in tempo.

Texas A&M will keep this game within a possession and challenge to win as an outright underdog, but the Irish’s defensive rank in Finishing Drives should be the clinching factor. Notre Dame has clear advantages in rushing the ball, per matchups in Line Yards and Power Success Rate. Look for an under ticket and be cautious of any Notre Dame spread north of a touchdown.


Florida Gators


ncaa-college football-betting-odds-picks-florida gators-georgia bulldogs-week 10-november 7 2020
Matchup
Proj. Spread
Proj. Total
vs. Alabama
+12.5
70.1
vs. Clemson
+9.0
67.1
vs. Ohio State
+8.5
69.0
vs. Notre Dame
PK
65.2
vs. Texas A&M
-3.0
62.2

Dan Mullen had multiple goals when returning to Gainesville for the head coaching position. Beating Georgia was the first step into securing an SEC crown. The Gators offense has paved the way for Mullen to get the Gators into the playoff for the first time.

Quarterback Kyle Trask leads a pass-heavy attack that ranks top-five in Passing Success Rate. Trask leads the nation in first down passes and touchdowns by a large margin. The benefactor has been tight end Kyle Pitts. The junior leads the nation in receiving grades, per Pro Football Focus, powered by double-digit touchdowns and an average of 18 yards per catch.

The defense is where the Gators begin to look suspect.

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has coached a unit that ranks outside the top 90 in pass coverage and tackling. Throw in a defensive pass explosiveness number outside the top 75, and Florida has the ability to get into a shootout with any team in the College Football Playoff. The defense does have positives on the defensive line. Both Brenton Cox Jr. and Zachary Carter have combined for 50 quarterback hurries on the season.


Picture Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images.

Florida’s Potential Matchups for the CFP Semifinals

Click a specific matchup below to expand that betting analysis:

Alabama (-12.5) vs. Florida
Matchup Matrix


The market will steam the total into the high 70s in a game in which there could be a ton of points on both sides of the ball.

The top-five passing attack of Kyle Trask will go against an improved Crimson Tide back seven, but Alabama has not faced a tight end like Kyle Pitts. One other note is offenses that run the wheel route can find success, as Georgia had its highest Offensive Success Rate against Alabama by finding its running backs on passing plays.

Kadarius Toney had 18 avoided tackles this season and will keep the Gators in this game. Alabama may not cover this track meet, but it certainly will not be for a lack of gaining available yards. The Gators poor scores in tackling, pass coverage and Defensive Finishing Drives is the difference in a game that should rival an SEC basketball score.


Clemson (-9) vs. Florida
Matchup Matrix


Two high-powered offenses will take knockout blows against each other in this one.

While both offenses prefer the pass, both defenses have issues against the deep ball, ranking outside the top 80 in defensive pass explosiveness. Both offenses rank top-25 in Finishing Drives, which can only lead bettors to an over ticket in this contest.

The advantages Clemson has on defense may be negated by a top-five special teams rank by Florida. Defensive ranks in tackling and pass coverage may keep the Gators from winning the game outright, but they are certainly a live underdog.


Ohio State (-8.5) vs. Florida
Matchup Matrix


There is a case to be made for the under in this game.

Ohio State has been 62% rush at a pace of 104th in seconds per play. The best way to keep the Gators offense off the scoreboard is long, sustainable drives against a vulnerable Florida defense.

The Buckeyes have the clear advantage offensively in the trench and through the air. A rank in the top 25 for Offensive Finishing Drives should have the Buckeyes collecting more touchdowns than field goals.

The Gators will move the ball through the air, as Ohio State has struggled to stop passing attacks. Indiana created a blueprint for Florida, as the Hoosiers threw the ball over 50 times and posted five explosive drives.

If Ohio State turns the game into a high-scoring affair, the Buckeyes may lose any defensive advantage they have when fatigue sets in the second half. Ohio State should win the game based on offensive rushing ranks, but look for Florida to keep this within one score.


Notre Dame (PK) vs. Florida (PK)
Matchup Matrix


This matchup features a large contrast in offensive tendencies.

Notre Dame will methodically move the ball via the rush against a Gators front seven that has been incapable of stopping any offense on the ground. Florida’s ranks in tacking and Defensive Rushing Success Rate could forecast Notre Dame into nine-minute double-digit play drives.

Those drives would achieve the goal of keeping Kyle Trask and the Florida offense on the sidelines. Notre Dame has one of the highest coverage ranks in the nation and will be the difference as the Irish advance.


Texas A&M vs. Florida (-3)
Matchup Matrix


A rematch of these two teams after a Florida loss earlier in the season would take place at a neutral site. Dan Mullen was crisp in his post-game interview then about the home-field advantage for the Aggies, but a late fourth-quarter fumble by Malik Davis was the difference in the game. Texas A&M then secured victory on a 26-yard field goal when the clock struck zero.

The advanced stats show a much wider gap in the Aggies victory, as they gained 82% of available yards — much higher than the national average of 44%. Texas A&M destroyed the Gators defense in passing downs by posting a 62% Success Rate.

While most will point to the Aggies having home-field advantage, any number greater than a field goal requires a wager on Texas A&M.


Texas A&M Aggies


Matchup
Proj. Spread
Proj. Total
vs. Alabama
+15.5
65.2
vs. Clemson
+12.0
62.3
vs. Ohio State
+11.5
64.1
vs. Notre Dame
+3.0
60.3
vs. Florida
+3.0
62.2

For Jimbo Fisher to reach the College Football Playoff, there was always the requirement of beating Alabama in SEC West play. Despite being doubled up by the Crimson Tide in the second week of SEC play, the Aggies have won every contest since to create an avenue to the semifinals.

The defense has been punishing against the ground attack with coordinator Mike Elko’s 4-2-5 scheme.

Texas A&M has maintained a top-30 rank in defensive Havoc and rush explosiveness allowed. The issues on defense come against an opponent with a deep passing attack. Alabama racked up a monster 64% Success Rate in passing plays with nine throws exceeding 15 yards.

Multiple opponents have looked to take to the air in standard downs against an Aggies defense that sits outside the top 50 in Success Rate in early down and distances.

Led by Kellen Mond, the A&M offense has been one of the most successful units in college football. The Aggies are a top-30 unit in first downs per game, but the explosiveness factor continues to elude Fisher’s offenses in College Station.

Of quarterbacks with at least 25 deep pass targets, Mond ranks 49th in adjusted completion rate. The Texas A&M team is built to win games similar to the Auburn victory. The Aggies trailed in the fourth quarter before multiple successful offensive drives put points on the board as the defense allowed 1.5 yards per play to the Tigers.

Texas A&M is not built to come back from large deficits, but if the Aggies are within a possession entering the fourth quarter, there’s room for an upset.


Picture Credit: Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Texas A&M’s Potential Matchups for the CFP Semifinals

Click a specific matchup below to expand that betting analysis:

Alabama (-15.5) vs. Texas A&M | Over/Under: 65.2
Matchup Matrix


The biggest question of the game whether or not Texas A&M has improved enough since getting drummed for 52 points in Bryant-Denny back on Oct. 3.

The Aggies defense allowed the Crimson Tide to gain 60% of available yards and post a 67% Success Rate in standard downs. That opened up downfield passing where Mac Jones connected on nine throws over 20 yards.

Texas A&M finished the season ranked outside the top 50 in defending pass explosiveness. More importantly, the offense has not had the ability to blow out anyone except a South Carolina team that has an interim head coach. Every Texas A&M victory has been within two possessions, indicating that covering against Alabama is unlikely.


Clemson (-12) vs. Texas A&M
Matchup Matrix


This will be the third matchup between these teams in the past 27 months. Dabo Swinney is no stranger to Jimbo Fisher after previous head-to-heads between Clemson and Florida State.

The Aggies covered both games but never really had a serious bid to upset in the 2019 version with a late score to cover 17.5.

The Tigers may have no success in running the ball against an Aggies rush defense that ranks in the top 30 in Success Rate and explosiveness. If Texas A&M finds any kind of success against the Clemson air attack, there’s a chance for an Aggies upset.

Texas A&M executes its offense at a pace that ranks 119th in seconds per play, which may provide the best weapon in long efficiency drives keeping Trevor Lawrence off the field. The difference in this game is the Aggies’ offensive rank outside of the top 50 in Finishing Drives. Leaving the red zone with a field goal or no points may be good for a cover but would ultimately allow Clemson to advance.


Ohio State (-11.5) vs. Texas A&M
Matchup Matrix


Texas A&M would be in a danger zone with this matchup.

The Mike Elko 4-2-5 is not built for passing attacks with a high Success Rate. The Aggies do not generate enough pass rush to get Justin Fields out of the pocket, but a top-10 rank offensively for Ohio State in Line yards and Stuff Rate may keep the Aggies defense honest in blitz attempts. When the Buckeyes find success moving the ball on the ground, Fields will soon hit as many play action and screen passing attempts versus an Aggies defense that is outside the top 50 against pass explosiveness.

The Texas A&M offense may not have enough firepower or pace against the Buckeyes defense. Ohio State ranks in the top 10 defensively in Line Yards and Stuff Rate, which should get Kellen Mond in passing downs early. Ohio State will do enough on both sides of the ball to cover two scores.


Notre Dame (-3) vs. Texas A&M
Matchup Matrix


Although these teams have not played head-to-head, both Texas A&M and Notre Dame know each other well. Defensive coordinator Mike Elko was brought to South Bend after a tumultuous season in 2016.

Elko since departed to take the same role with Texas A&M, as assistant coach Clark Lea was promoted to defensive coordinator for Notre Dame. Elko served as Lea’s mentor, and that reflects in the defensive numbers at Notre Dame.

These two offenses lean on the rush in standard downs and rank outside the top 100 in tempo.

Texas A&M will keep this game within a possession and challenge to win as an outright underdog, but the Irish’s defensive rank in Finishing Drives should be the clinching factor. Notre Dame has clear advantages in rushing the ball, per matchups in Line Yards and Power Success Rate. Look for an under ticket and be cautious of any Notre Dame spread north of a touchdown.


Florida (-3) vs. Texas A&M
Matchup Matrix


A rematch of these two teams after a Florida loss earlier in the season would take place at a neutral site. Dan Mullen was crisp in his post-game interview then about the home-field advantage for the Aggies, but a late fourth-quarter fumble by Malik Davis was the difference in the game. Texas A&M then secured victory on a 26-yard field goal when the clock struck zero.

The advanced stats show a much wider gap in the Aggies victory, as they gained 82% of available yards — much higher than the national average of 44%. Texas A&M destroyed the Gators defense in passing downs by posting a 62% Success Rate.

While most will point to the Aggies having home-field advantage, any number greater than a field goal requires a wager on Texas A&M.


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