There may be more games to follow, but this Saturday is one we have all been waiting for. We have four games on the schedule with two appetizers to get us started followed by the College Football Playoff. Each game has some star power to it and the two playoff games are as good as we can find. Spread-wise, three are expected to stay competitive, while LSU is a sizable favorite over Oklahoma. Still, with the talent these teams have, nothing is for certain and there is plenty to break down on the CFB betting schedule.
This article is going to break down games from a betting perspective, but make sure to keep an eye out for the College Football DFS article that will touch upon plays from these games. Four games is a quality slate, especially when considering the teams and we are going to have a lot of CFB DFS to close out 2019.
Peach Bowl: Oklahoma vs LSU -13.5, O/U 76
First of the two playoff matchups on Saturday is the Peach Bowl with Big 12 champ Oklahoma taking on No. 1 seed LSU. This spread is nearly two touchdowns so clearly of the four playoff teams, Vegas views Oklahoma as the weak link. They suffered one loss on the season to lowly Kansas State, and despite another monster offensive year, they have a lot of question marks.
From Baker Mayfield to Kyler Murray to now Jalen Hurts, the Oklahoma quarterback turnover has been remarkable. It seems like whoever leads their offense is immediately a Heisman contender and the Alabama transfer proved that once again this year. Hurts comes into this game with a bunch of eye-popping numbers including leading the nation in yards per passing attempt at 11.8. He will be forced to once again to put up major points as the over/under is 76 and Oklahoma probably needs 35 or more to even have a chance.
A few more positives for Oklahoma is Hurts came from the SEC so he’s familiar with LSU, and he doesn’t get the classic version of this defense that we see most years. The Tigers have a ton of talent, especially in the secondary, but at times have struggled stopping top-end offenses. With Hurts and CeeDee Lamb, this is once again a tough test for any defense and the LSU secondary will have to be the best version of itself.
LSU’s defense isn’t the elite unit it normally is, but they still clearly earned the No. 1 seed in this year’s playoff. The Tigers are undefeated in the SEC and their offense, which is usually the weak point, has been the overwhelming strength in 2019. They have Heisman winner Joe Burrow, who came into this year as a question mark. Now, he seems like the lock No. 1 pick in next year’s draft and leads an offense that is scoring 46 points per game, the third best in the entire country.
I, like many, have always said if LSU could ever find an offense it would be game over as they are always stout defensively and this is the team that many feared. They are balanced and have everything you would want in terms of skill position players. One important injury note is lead running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who is questionable with a hamstring injury. Oklahoma to have any chance has to win up front, and LSU sports one of, if not the best O-line in the country.
Oklahoma is the clear underdog here and it’s hard to argue with this spread. They do not have the talent on defense and a handful of suspensions/injuries could further strain their depth. They are facing an LSU offense that has torn through every single opponent they’ve faced and Burrow has racked ridiculous numbers along the way. If LSU hangs 50 on Oklahoma, it’s a big ask for any offense to keep pace and I think the Sooners ultimately cannot keep up with the juggernaut that is LSU.
My CFB Betting Pick: LSU -13.5
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Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State vs Clemson -2, O/U 63
The second playoff game is Ohio State and Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl, and this one could easily be confused as the National Championship game with the quality of these two teams. Ohio State is the Big 10 champ and finished 13-0 this year, which was good enough for the second seed in this playoff. They sport talent across the board and weren’t tested much if at all during the regular season. The strength of this team is up front, particularly on defense where Heisman finalist Chase Young leads a fantastic defensive line.
The big question in my mind is at the quarterback position with Justin Fields’ health. He isn’t in danger of missing the game and from what I’ve heard, he is close to 100%. But against Clemson, any limitation is a huge downgrade. He will be wearing a small knee brace and it remains to be seen if that will affect his mobility. It’s not all doom and gloom for Fields, as he comes into this game with the standard 40 Touchdowns and just one interception on the season. His ability to not give the ball away is huge as any turnovers could be the difference in this game.
I expect Ohio State to lean on their running game with J.K. Dobbins, who honestly doesn’t get enough credit for how important he is to his team. The Ohio State offense will be able to test Clemson’s front that lost an entire NFL defensive line in last year’s draft.
The defending national champs went undefeated this year and their reward is the third seed in a four-team playoff. That doesn’t seem right, but it’s hard to argue against it as Clemson slept through the regular season and still managed to not lose. They did at times make it closer than it needed to be, but as the season went on, they got into a groove and ended most games before halftime.
The offense is an embarrassment of riches starting with Trevor Lawrence, who still has never lost in his college career. He has two probable first-round NFL draft picks on the outside in receivers Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross and an All-American running back in Travis Etienne. Good luck stopping these guys regardless of how good the defense is. Against Clemson, it’s just a matter of trying to limit the big plays and getting some pressure on Lawrence.
The knock on Clemson all year is that they have played one of the easiest schedules around and haven’t faced any top opponents like the rest of the playoff teams had to do. This makes the game intriguing as Clemson will either be exposed as an overrated squad who beat up on cupcakes or emerge as an undervalued three seed and still the champs from last year. With Lawrence and all the weapons back from last year’s offense, I tend to side with the later and think Ohio State won’t be able to keep pace. That will set up the LSU-Clemson showdown that most people want to see.
My CFB Betting Pick: Clemson -2
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Good Luck everyone!