College Football Semi-Final & New Year’s Day Bowl Game Best Bets

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We've been profitable so far this college football bowl season, going 5-3 on our picks on games that have been played.

Let's see if we can keep it rolling with 4 picks from our team of experts for the games on New Year's Day, including the College Football Playoff Semi-Finals.

After this, we'll have one final NCAAF picks article—our best bets for the National Championship. Subscribe to our newsletter here to make sure you don't miss out on any of these.

Remember, you can always compare college football lines and odds by sportsbooks here. You can also see all of our current and past college football betting picks here.

College Football Semi-Final & New Year’s Day Bowl Game Best Bets

Iowa vs. Tennessee Under 36 – Citrus Bowl – Monday, 1 pm ET

Kyler Wolff
Kyler Wolff

Kyler Wolff is a sports writer with a passion for football & statistical analysis. He uses his knowledge of the game and ability to break down stats to make the best picks.

Both Tennessee’s Joe Milton III (starting QB) and Jaylen Wright (leading rusher) have opted out of this game, completely gutting their offense ahead of their matchup against the 4th-best defense in the country (based on points per game allowed).

We already know that Iowa won't be scoring much. They’ve only scored 16.6 points per game this season and only 12.1 points per game over the last 7 games.

Despite the low-scoring Iowa offense, they still won 10 of their 13 games because of their defensive dominance over the course of the season. Their top offensive opponents topped out at 26 and 31 points (Michigan and Penn State, respectively).

With Tennessee starting a freshman QB with only 26 pass attempts under his belt and a stable of backup running backs leading their rushing attack, Tennessee will likely fail to hit either of those numbers. Tennessee has had a good offense all season, but without their two stars, I don't have much hope that they will get more than 20 or so points.

As for Iowa, their offense is almost nonexistent and has regressed as the season has played out. Tennessee has allowed 22 points per game on defense but will likely be able to hold Iowa's lethargic offense to less than 2 touchdowns.

Iowa hasn't scored more than 2 touchdowns since Week 3 against Western Michigan. They've only scored 22 total touchdowns this season compared to 19 field goals for a total of 216 points over 13 games. 18% of their total touchdowns came from receivers that won't play in this game (3 by injured Erick All and 1 by Diante Vines, who has entered the transfer portal), so expect their offense to be even more stagnant than usual.

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Michigan Moneyline (-120) vs. Alabama – Rose Bowl – Monday, 5 pm ET

Rob O'Connor
Rob O'Connor

Rob O’Connor is a veteran sports handicapper. He broke into the industry in 2002 and has continued to provide high quality sports handicapping advice ever since.

Michigan comes into this game undefeated and, most importantly, healthy as they take on Alabama in the Rose Bowl.

Looking at the entire body of work of the season, there are serious questions about Alabama that simply cannot be overlooked because it is the playoffs and Nick Saban is their coach.

The fact of the matter is that Alabama needed a 4-yard and 31-yard conversion against Auburn to win the Iron Bowl to even give them a shot to be in this game.

The SEC was down as a conference this year. SEC teams went just 7-9 against other Power 5 teams during the regular season, including Alabama losing to Texas at home back in September.

Michigan, meanwhile, ran the table. Rumors of a weak schedule being the reason for their success faded as the season went on and they beat Penn State and Ohio State in 2 of their final 3 regular season games.

Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy should be able to keep the Alabama defense on their heels. This is not the vaunted Alabama defense of years past. They allowed LSU QB Jaylen Daniels to rush for 163 yards against them before he went out with an injury and Auburn QB Payton Thorne put up 57 yards against them in the Iron Bowl, a game which saw Alabama give up 244 yards on the ground.

Michigan is a team that likes to run the ball with running backs Donovan Edwards and Blake Corum. And they will look to do that to control the game on the ground against an Alabama team that is allowing nearly 125 rushing yards per game.

These are two very evenly matched teams and while I trust Nick Saban more than John Harbaugh, I trust the players on Michigan more than the players on Alabama.

Alabama has been too inconsistent this year. QB Jalen Milroe has thrown for 300 yards only once all season and he hasn’t shown he can do enough in the passing game to carry Alabama offensively.
And now he will have to do it against a Michigan team that ranks 2nd in the nation, giving up just 239.7 yards per game.

With the spread being small (between -1.5 and -2 in favor of Michigan), we are going with a Michigan moneyline play.

It will be a close game, but when it comes down to it, I trust the Michigan defense to get that extra stop or force an extra turnover and their offense is more consistent. Look for them to win the Rose Bowl and advance to the National Championship.

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Washington +4.5 vs. Texas – Sugar Bowl – Monday, 8:45 pm ET

Kyler Wolff
Kyler Wolff

Kyler Wolff is a sports writer with a passion for football & statistical analysis. He uses his knowledge of the game and ability to break down stats to make the best picks.

Vegas loves nothing more than to underestimate the Washington Huskies this season. They are undefeated, yet have been underdogs in 3 of their last 4 games.

Washington is loaded with talent, from Heisman finalist and Maxwell Player of the Year Michael Penix Jr. to Bilitnnikoff award finalist Rome Odunze. Their coach, Kalen DeBoer, also won AP Coach of the Year. Washington also has a pair of defensive players (Bralen Trice and Edefuan Ulofoshio) and an offensive tackle (Troy Fautanu) who were All-PAC-12 1st teamers.

As for the team, they have a flawless record and have proven themselves to be both an offensive and defensive threat. Their defensive numbers are slightly inflated because they are in the offensive-forward PAC-12, but they have been a solid unit all year on tape.

Texas also has a solid team, scoring 36.2 points on 476 yards per game on average. These numbers are nearly identical to Washington's 37.7 points on 469 yards per game. Texas has much better defensive statistics than Washington, but the Huskies had much better offensive opponents than Texas.

All in all, these two teams are evenly matched, and the game should be very close. I'm tempted to take Washington moneyline, as I think they have a good chance at winning, but the 4-point spread is a much safer pick, and the odds aren't terribly different, so I'm going with Washington +4.5 for the Sugar Bowl.

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Washington +4.5 vs. Texas – Sugar Bowl – Monday, 8:45 pm ET

Rob O'Connor
Rob O'Connor

Rob O’Connor is a veteran sports handicapper. He broke into the industry in 2002 and has continued to provide high quality sports handicapping advice ever since.

Washington as shown resiliency all season long and comes into this game as an undefeated PAC-12 champion, which was arguably the strongest conference in college football this season.

Washington has 5 wins over top 20 teams this season, while Texas has just 3. Texas does, however, have the more impressive wins of the season, including Alabama, Washington beat Oregon twice.

Washington has the advantage of having the best player on the field in Michael Penix Jr. He threw for over 4,200 yards with 33 touchdowns and 9 interceptions on the season. That will spell trouble for a Texas defense that was not good against the pass this year, allowing over 240 yards per game through the air.

This will be the game where Texas finally misses their leading running back Jonathan Brooks, who was lost for the season when he tore his ACL.

I don’t believe Texas has the firepower on offense to put Washington away. Texas QB Quinn Ewers will not be making plays with his feet and the short pass game is an area Washington is able to defend well.

Look for this one to be a back-and-forth game, likely decided by a FG one way or the other. Grab Washington +4.5.

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