College Football Championship 2021: Semifinals Odds and Playoff PredictionsDecember 31, 2021
College Football Championship 2021: Semifinals Odds and Playoff Predictions
After nearly a month of anticipation, the College Football Playoff has arrived. On Friday, four teams will be in action battling for the two spots in the CFP National Championship Game, which is set for Jan. 10.
No. 1 Alabama will look to fend off No. 4 Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl, then No. 2 Michigan and No. 3 Georgia will go head-to-head in the Orange Bowl. The pair of New Year's Eve matchups have the potential to be among the most exciting games of the 2021 college football season.
The Crimson Tide are not only the defending national champions, but they've made the CFP in seven of eight seasons since the system was implemented in 2014. The Bulldogs will be making their second Playoff appearance, while the Wolverines and Bearcats are both making their CFP debuts.
Here are the odds for Friday's semifinal matchups, along with predictions for both games.
College Football Playoff Odds
Spread: Alabama -14
Over/Under: 57 total points
Moneyline: Alabama -600 (bet $600 to win $100); Cincinnati +435 (bet $100 to win $435)
Spread: Georgia -7.5
Over/Under: 46 total points
Moneyline: Georgia -305 (bet $305 to win $100); Michigan +240 (bet $100 to win $240)
Cotton Bowl Prediction
Alabama is by far the program with the most College Football Playoff experience in this year's field. Meanwhile, not only has Cincinnati never been to the CFP, but there had never been a Group of Five school to make it until the Bearcats this season.
While the Crimson Tide have the edge in experience, anything can happen once these two teams take the field at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. However, it's hard to imagine that head coach Nick Saban's squad won't be much more prepared and ready to handle the big-game atmosphere that will fill the stadium.
Even though Alabama wasn't quite as dominant during the regular season as it was in recent years, it enters the CFP with plenty of momentum. The Tide pulled out a four-overtime victory against Auburn to close the regular season, then became the first team to take down Georgia in the SEC Championship Game.
Alabama's roster is loaded with top-tier talent, including some players who appeared in last year's CFP and sophomore quarterback Bryce Young, who is the first Crimson Tide QB to win the prestigious award. Cincinnati may have the No. 2 pass defense in the country, but it hasn't faced a unit like this one yet.
And even though Young and the Tide have been quite successful this season, they're still focused on the big goals that lie ahead.
"What I won was about what I've done in the past and what we've done as a team in the past, which is great, but that doesn't entitle me to anything in the future," Young said, per The Athletic's Aaron Suttles.
But Alabama isn't done winning yet. Expect the Crimson Tide to jump out to a sizable lead early, as their offense will overwhelm the Bearcats in the first half. From there, Alabama will be comfortable playing ahead, as it will keep Cincinnati from getting close enough for a comeback attempt.
Prediction: Alabama 38, Cincinnati 17
Orange Bowl Prediction
There's a good chance that points will be at a premium during the Orange Bowl. Both Georgia and Michigan have strong defenses that are likely going to make things tough on the opponent's offense, so this matchup could be a low-scoring affair.
The Bulldogs rank first in points allowed per game (9.54) and second in total yards allowed per game (254.4), while the Wolverines are tied for fourth (16.08) and 12th (316.7) in those categories, respectively. And neither team has an offense that is overpowering enough for that not to matter.
When it comes to momentum, Michigan has the edge, though. It has won five straight games, which includes a victory over Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game. That run got the Wolverines to the CFP for the first time in program history.
Meanwhile, Georgia is seeking a bounce-back showing. It had won its first 12 games before losing to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. The Bulldogs now look to prove that was just an off showing and aim to get back to playing the way they did for most of the year.
It seems likely that is going to happen. Michigan's offense isn't quite as strong as Alabama's high-powered unit, and Georgia has a lot to prove in its first CFP appearance since the 2017 season.
This should be the more competitive of the two CFP semifinal matchups. And it's likely going to come down to the final possession. However, the Bulldogs' defense will get a big stop late in the game to hold off the Wolverines, meaning they'll get their rematch with the Crimson Tide in the CFP National Championship Game.
Prediction: Georgia 21, Michigan 17
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