Bowl season is slowly dwindling and the College Football Playoff is finally here. With five games set for a loaded New Year’s Day that will feel like yesteryear, our picks for every game including both playoff games.
Bowl Season New Year’s Day College Football Picks and Predictions
Last Week: 12-4 (0.750)
Bowl Season: 24-11-1 (0.680)
This Season: 78-67-2 (0.537)
Overall Record: 159-150-5 (0.514)
Alabama +1.5 (-110) vs. Michigan -1.5 (-110)
The Crimson Tide are fielding arguably their worst team to make the playoff in their history. They don’t have the elite players on defense that they have had in years past and both the skill players and offense line aren’t nearly up to par. That hasn’t mattered after they got their bearings set post-South Florida.
Why is that? Jalen Milroe is just different.
Early in the season, Milroe was all over the place. He didn’t look like a cohesive or confident passer despite the arm talent and ability. After getting benched for the South Florida game, Milroe came out and grew every week, even providing the best throw of the year on a fourth and goal from behind the 30 yard line in the Iron Bowl. He finished the regular season by beating a Georgia team that hadn’t lost a game in more than two years.
Michigan is in their third-consecutive playoff game but they lost both of them, one of them to Georgia and the other last season to TCU. The difference here is the 2023 Wolverines are a better team than their two predecessors.
The catalyst for the Wolverines is the running game. Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards are a dynamic duo on the ground. Corum has been the workhorse with over 1,000 yards on the year but Edwards came on strong against the Buckeyes and is a weapon in the passing game.
The biggest thing in this game will be the success of McCarthy. During stretches this season, they didn’t ask McCarthy to throw the ball much at all. They didn’t need him to, as they won a good portion of their games solely with the running game and their defense.
What will the Wolverines look like if the Crimson Tide stifle the running game? Can McCarthy carve up a Nick Saban defense that has nearly a month to prepare? That will be the key but I don’t trust the offensive line of Alabama to handle the impressive defensive line of the Wolverines.
Jim Harbaugh gets his elusive first win in the College Football Playoff.
Bet: Michigan -1.5 (-110)
Texas -4 (-110) vs. Washington +4 (-110)
This is the most intriguing matchup to me in the entire postseason.
Texas has been a team that has been up and down. Sometimes they look dominant while others they looked pedestrian despite having a ton of talent on both sides of the ball. Their success begins and ends with quarterback Quinn Ewers.
A consensus five-star and one of just a handful of prospects ever to have a perfect 1.0000 ranking per the 247 Sports Composite, Ewers had had an up-and-down two seasons as the starter for the Longhorns. Last season against Alabama, he suffered an AC joint sprain and missed multiple weeks. This year, he was healthy but he wasn’t driving the ball down the field well in the passing game.
On defense, the Longhorns are a talented group led by Byron Murphy II and T’Vondre Sweat. That front bullies offensive lines but they will have a very difficult task in front of them, as the Huskies have a tremendous offensive line in front of them.
Washington has been a massively overlooked team all season. It honestly doesn’t make that much sense since the Pac-12 was a major focus this season due to the strength of the conference and it being the last year of what we currently know the conference to be.
It felt like the entire world thought Oregon was the better team when Washington had already beaten them and then beat them again. Michael Penix Jr. finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting and for good reason.
He was incredible for the second-consecutive season. His chemistry with wide receivers Rome Odunze, Jalen McMillan and Ja’Lynn Polk has led to an elite offense under Ryan Grubb and Kalen DeBoer.
The key to this game is going to be keeping Penix clean. Left tackle Troy Fautanu leads a great offensive line and that will end up being the difference. It’s time Washington gets the respect they have deserved all season.
Bet: Washington +4 (-110)
LSU -9 (-110) vs. Wisconsin
Liberty +18 (-110) vs. Oregon
Tennessee -5.5 (-112) vs. Iowa
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