NCAAF Pick: Under 62.5 (-108) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)
Where’s the defense? There was supposed to be an earth-shattering defense at both College Football Playoff semifinals – especially the Peach Bowl between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Georgia Bulldogs. Nope: Both games blew out their posted totals, with the Bulldogs barely beating the Buckeyes 42-41 (Over 61.5) as 5.5-point favorites at Georgia betting sites.
At least the underdogs from OSU got the cover – as did the TCU Horned Frogs (+7.5) in their 51-45 victory over the Michigan Wolverines (Over 56.5). But now we’ve got a National Championship matchup next Monday that the analytics say should go Under the 62.5-point total on the NCAAF odds board at Heritage Sports. Should we trust the numbers?
You know how we roll here at the ranch: Trust, but verify. After taking a closer look at the situation on the ground, we’re content to roll with the Under for a small wager, even if 98% of early bettors are on the Over according to the consensus reports at press time.
While we’re at it, we need a second bet to recommend for your college football picks. Let’s dig deep, peel back the layers, and get to the real story behind the CFP odds.
TCU Horned Frogs vs. Georgia Bulldogs
Monday, January 9, 2023 – 07:30 PM EST at SoFi Stadium
What About the Point Spread?
Oh yeah, that thing. There will no doubt be a lot of eyebrows raised that TCU opened as 13-point underdogs at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review) after mauling the Wolverines. The Frogs have since moved to +13.5, even though the consensus reports show 93% support for Texas Christian University.
According to some of the models we’re looking at, that is a very tight line. However, others have Georgia winning this game by closer to 7-10 points. For example, FiveThirtyEight project Georgia to win 71% of the time, which is about the same as -7.5 according to the estimated probabilities at Wizard of Odds.
Jeff Sagarin at The USA Today also has the Bulldogs winning by a range of 5-10 points using his assorted formulae, with the five points reflecting recent performance. Combine that with the plausibly sharp early action on TCU, and sure, we can get on board with that – but only for a fun-size bet.
As a general rule, we’re not inclined to recommend big bets on anything the analytics don’t fully support. The closest “natural” football score to the range of models we’re looking at is Georgia 38 - TCU 24. That’s after rounding up, so we should still have some profit margin betting the Under here. The Frogs ATS? Not so much at +13.5.
If we give more credence to the models that have the Bulldogs winning by around 10, the closest natural score in the neighborhood of that projection would be Georgia 34, TCU 24. Good news again for Under bettors. By the way, Sagarin projects these two teams to combine for 61.07 points.
Did You See What Happened in the Semis?
I did indeed – highly entertaining. But before we bury all these defenses, we should point out that TCU scored a pair of pick-sixes at the Fiesta Bowl, one by Bud Clark and the other by Dee Winters. That had something to do with that videogame score.
The Peach Bowl was all offense, though. Ohio State poured 467 yards of total offense on Georgia, who responded with 533 yards; there was one turnover the entire game, when Buckeyes LB Steele Chambers – I’m not even going there – picked Stetson Bennett on the first play of a first-quarter drive in Georgia territory.
This is simply not normal. Georgia had the No. 1 defense in the country heading into bowl season, as per the F+ charts at Football Outsiders. Ohio State had the No. 3 offense, but they “only” managed 23 points against Michigan’s No. 4-ranked defense at The Game. Something similar would be entirely reasonable in this matchup.
Here’s one more important thing to consider for next Monday: Georgia TE Darnell Washington is listed as questionable after suffering a bruised and strained ankle during the second quarter of the Peach Bowl. Washington’s departure didn’t stop the Bulldogs from mounting that awesome comeback against Ohio State, but it didn’t help, either.
Given all that, we’re still recommending the Under for the standard single unit of your bankroll, and yes, a fun-size bet on TCU seems even more reasonable with Washington on the limp. Size up or down accordingly if the college football odds change before you read this, and may the prolate spheroid be with you.
NCAAF Pick: TCU +13.5 (-110) at Bovada
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.