College Football Playoff Championship 2021: Odds and Predictions for Matchups
The College Football Playoff is set as Alabama, Michigan, Cincinnati and Georgia will battle for the right to hoist the national championship.
The Crimson Tide will have the opportunity to repeat as champions, while the Wolverines enter their first playoff in school history. Ditto the Bearcats, who are the first non-Power Five team to compete in the playoff. Then there is Georgia, the most dominant team in the country this season but also the only team entering coming off a loss.
Who will play in the College Football Playoff national championship game and what are the opening odds for the round of four, according to DraftKings?
Find out with this preview of the playoff picture.
Cotton Bowl: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Cincinnati
Odds: Alabama -13.5
Total Points: 58.5
Quarterback Bryce Young and Alabama executed a near-flawless offensive game plan against Georgia in the SEC Championship game, picking apart one of the best defenses in the country for 421 yards through the air, three touchdowns and an additional 40 yards and TD on the ground.
Despite inconsistency along the offensive line, the team protected Young and let him exploit matchups down the field, leading to the outburst of points hung on the stout Georgia D.
Cincinnati has been one of the best stories this year. They enter the playoffs undefeated and have earned the right to join a playoff picture typically reserved for the most prominent teams in the country. They captured the attention of the college football world, and with every passing victory, solidified their place at the table.
Unfortunately, Alabama has too much firepower for Cincinnati. The players are better and more experienced in these big-game situations, and Nick Saban is among the best coaches in the history of the sport. The team was ready to dismantle Georgia in the SEC Championship, and with added time to prepare for the Bearcats, it should have no problem cashing its ticket to the title game.
Should Cincinnati produce a consistent pass rush and take advantage of the up-and-down offensive line, that could change. Alabama's ability to adjust should prevent that from happening, as it did against Georgia when Young was only pressured five times.
Orange Bowl: No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 Georgia
Odds: Georgia -7.5
Total Points: 43.5
Alabama not only exposed the offensive line schemes of Georgia, blitzing Stetson Bennett into oblivion en route to their 41-24 victory over the Bulldogs, it also set the stage for Michigan to attack from the edge.
It exploited the pass defense of the Bulldogs, which had no answer for Bryce Young. While Wolverines quarterback Cade McNamara is not as good as Young, a high-efficiency day against Georgia's top-ranked defense is not out of the question.
Georgia's uber aggressive, top-shelf edge-rushers are susceptible to the outside run game. If running backs Hassan Haskins and Donovan Edwards can exploit that area, McNamara can use play action to push the ball down the field.
That is not to suggest Georgia's run defense is leaky. It is one of the best in the country and will stunt any attempts by Michigan to run the ball down its throat via the A gap. The Georgia squad was notoriously stingy all season.
Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson is among the top pass-rushers in the country and has been key in Big Blue establishing itself as a dominant defense in its own right.
Anyone expecting a high-scoring affair could be disappointed as the stout defensive units will keep the opposing team from lighting up the scoreboard.
Georgia is favored by seven-and-a-half to open things up, but much of that can be attributed to how dominant the team looked earlier in the season. Questions at quarterback for the Bulldogs and a Wolverines team with momentum on their side tilts things in the favor of the Big 10 champions.
On the surface, a national championship game between Michigan and Alabama would seem to favor the Wolverines.
We know they are the hottest team in the country, playing their best football when it matters most. They have a great defense, fueled by Hutchinson, that gets after quarterbacks. The Crimson Tide's offensive line has been inconsistent in 2021.
It is a recipe for success for Michigan and head coach Jim Harbaugh, at least on the surface.
There is something to be said about experience, pedigree and having a better, deeper roster than the next team, and Alabama has it all. Saban has been here before and fielded championship-winning teams. Harbaugh has not. He was a dropped-pass away from coaching a Super Bowl-winning team in the NFL but has never made it to the college football championship game.
A better recruiting class full of big-time playmakers who step up in the most significant of moments will prove to be the difference as Alabama's squad has one more, big-time play in its arsenal than Michigan and wins a defensive battle for its second consecutive national title.
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