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College Football Playoff Gambling Primer

#StackCashWithJackMac: 129-110, +6.65 units (Bowls: 9-6)

Iowa State +3.5

Oklahoma +14

Clemson -2.5

I've been wrong on LSU all year. I think I'm around 0-8 in games that have featured Coach O's bunch. I'm not a doubter of their success, but instead just been so wrong on them all year. 

If Oklahoma wants to stay in this game, Jalen Hurts HAS to take care of the ball. He NEEDS a clean sheet on the turnover side. Any fumble or interception could equal game over. Jalen has a chance to put up big numbers with his explosive pass offense. LSU's defense ranks 122nd in pass explosiveness. We saw wide-open receivers down the field against Georgia, but Jake Fromm couldn't convert. CeeDee Lamb is going to find himself open down the field and I think Jalen will be able to get him the ball.

On offense, LSU excels in rushing success (6th) and passing success (1st). Oklahoma's defense has a bad reputation, but they've been pretty good this year in stopping the rush (42nd) and the pass (28th). Their stuff rate is 7th and sack rate is 15th. Those numbers drop a little bit with Ronnie Perkins suspended. 

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Joe Burrow's security blanket has been Clyde Edwards-Helaire. It appears he's going to play, but I don't think we'll see him for long. LSU may be dressing him just to keep Oklahoma honest. Burrow won't turn into a bad QB with Edwards-Helaire not on the field, but LSU may struggle in short-yardage situations. 

Overall, I'd be shocked if LSU lost. However, I think Oklahoma has the ability to keep it close. Even if that means they down 17-21 points all game, the back door will be open. 

Pick: Oklahoma +14

This game almost feels like the national championship. What a damn matchup. 

The cracks in Ohio State started to show late in the season. We saw Shea Patterson carve up the Ohio State defense with explosive pass plays. Even Jack Coan found success against OSU. Guess who won't be on the field on Saturday night? Not Jack Coan/Shea Patterson but Trevor Lawrence with his calvary of  Tee Higgins, Justyn Ross, and Amari Rogers. OSU also ranks 101st in stopping explosive rush plays, while Clemson ranks 34th thanks to Travis Etienne. I really believe Clemson's offense is going to have their way.

On Christmas Eve, Justin Fields said his knee is 80-85% healthy. Maybe he's trying to trick everybody, but if that is true, that is massive. OSU's offense didn't look the same against Wisco thanks to Fields injury. The Buckeyes QB has a tendency to hold onto the ball too long, which is why OSU ranks 100th in sack rate (Clemson's defense ranks 3rd). It's not that big of a deal when Fields is healthy, but with a bum knee, scrambles turn into sacks. 

It's fun to make fun of Dabo Swinney saying Clemson has been disrespected, but I agree to a certain point. This defense is still elite. They only rank outside of the top 13 in two metrics on defense (Finishing Drives and Stuff Rate, 25th & 29th). 

Clemson's going back to the national championship. 

Pick: Clemson -2.5

Saturday starts with Memphis and Penn State in the Cotton Bowl. The theme of this game? QUESTIONS. How will Memphis perform without Mike Norvell? Will Penn State be able to keep up with Memphis with their interim-OC (former Fordham coach by the way). Is Penn State motivated to play in this one? 

Let's start with when Memphis has the ball. They rank 5th in pass explosiveness in the country while Penn State ranks 78th in defending explosive pass plays. This is the Tigers biggest advantage. The question is whether or not the lack of Mike Norvell will hurt Memphis in their biggest strength. Penn State is elite against the run (2nd overall, 10th in line yards, 26th in stuff rate) and they've been causing havoc all year long (14th to Memphis 102nd in Havoc allowed). 

When Penn State has the ball, they'll try to exploit Memphis through explosive plays. The Nittany Lions are 36th in rushing explosiveness (Memphis is 103rd in defending it) and 33rd in passing explosiveness (Memphis is 75th). 

Ultimately, there are just too many questions for me. I lean Penn State -7 and will be looking for a live line down under 3/4 if they go down early. 

Lean: Penn State -7

You don't have to look too far to see how happy Notre Dame is to be in the Camping World Bowl:

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This team had one goal after their loss to Georgia and Michigan: find a way to get into a NY6 bowl. They didn't do that. Now they are playing in a third-tier bowl game and will be with a new OC after former assistant coach of the year Chip Long and the Irish parted ways. Tommy Reese will be calling plays for ND. Yes, that Tommy Reese. 

Iowa State is a different story. They aren't an entitled bunch like Notre Dame. They were 4 points from a Big 12 championship appearance (OU, Iowa, and Baylor losses). They'll be the more motivated bunch, especially against a name school like Notre Dame. Brock Purdy has been one of the best QBs in the country this year and leads a pass offense that ranks 15th in the nation.

Brian Kelly has had a great career as a coach, but his bowl performances have been less than stellar: 2-9 ATS. Give me Iowa State +3.5. 

Pick: Iowa State +3.5