Betting on the 2015 College Football Playoffs Semifinals

Posted by Alex Murphy on December 21, 2015 in

I’m not going to write a big intro for this, you already know that, for this year’s NCAAF Semifinals, Oklahoma and Clemson will be squaring it off in the Orange Bowl, followed by a showdown between Michigan State and Alabama in the Cotton Bowl. All I am going to say that unlike the many hugely subjective writings you’ve read before that are bereft of any stone-cold facts and are oozing with personal opinions from your so-called sharps; my focus will be purely on the truths and numbers which, as we all know, never lie. Here are my online NCAA Football odds predictions so you can bet on the 2015 College Football Playoffs Semifinals.

A Closer Look on Betting on the 2015 College Football Playoffs Semifinals

Orange Bowl—#4 Oklahoma Sooners vs. #1 Clemson Tigers

When: Thursday, December 31, 2015
Kickoff: 4:00 PM ET
Where: Miami, FL
Stadium: Sun Life Stadium
Spread: Oklahoma -3.5
Moneyline: Sooners -110 vs. Tigers -110
Game Total: 64.5
Watch: ESPN

Analysis: The matchup between Clemson QB Deshaun Watson (who completed 69.5 percent of his passes for 3,512 yards with 30 touchdowns against 11 interceptions, while running for 887 yards with 11 scores) and Oklahoma’s QB and Sporting News Player of the Year Baker Mayfield suggests that this game’s total could be blown up the roof, so be on the lookout for a high-scoring game that should total beyond 65 points.

The biggest debate, however, is not on the total, but rather who will win this game. Now, given that Clemson comes into this game as the No.1-ranked team in the nation and is yet to be defeated, it is perplexing that the Tigers are placed as the underdogs to the one-loss Sooners. Even more surprisingly, the Tigers come into this game streaking on three straight wins and covers in their last three bowl games, including the 40-6 win over the Sooners in the 2014 Russell Athletic Bowl, meaning they should have been favored here. Yes, Bob Stoops is a master at plotting solid tactics for such games, but the fact that Dabo Sweeney outcoached him in 2014 and is yet to record a loss this season swings a lot of value to Clemson. Plus, Sweeney is impressively 8-4 as an underdog since 2011, so covering the spread should be within the realms of possibility for him and his team.

Predictions and Picks: Clemson secures a statement win and cover with the total going OVER. Predicted Score: Clemson 41, Oklahoma 37.

Cotton Bowl:—#3 Michigan State Spartans vs. #2 Alabama Crimson Tide

When: Thursday, December 31, 2015
Kickoff: 8:00 PM ET
Where: Arlington, TX
Stadium: AT&T Stadium
Spread: Michigan State -9.5
Moneyline: Spartans -110 vs. Crimson Tide -110
Game Total: 46
Watch: ESPN

Analysis: Fresh off receiving the 2015 Heisman trophy, star running back Derrick Henry (who posted an SEC-record 1,986 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns this season) and the Tide will be looking to reach the National Championship game, and move closer to clinching the all-important fourth national championship in seven years. That is, however, easier said than done, as Henry will be going against a Michigan State run defense that allowed 3.6 yards per carry on the season, so it’s hard to guarantee that he’ll have a big game. Mind you, this is the same defense that put the clamps on Ohio State RB and Heisman finalist Ezekiel Elliot, meaning Alabama will need to get the most from its middling passing game.

Meanwhile, Alabama’s head coach Nick Saban will be facing his former assistant in Michigan State’s head coach Mark Dantonio, who knows everything there is to know about Saban’s game preparations. The expectation therefore is that Dantonio and Michigan State will be well-prepped for anything from Saban and the Tide.

As things stand, Alabama’s superior defense should be able to give them some slight edge and offer a solid chance to claim the win. Still, I don’t expect the underrated Spartans to lose this game by as many as 9 points. To support this belief, I will remind you about how the public believed in Ohio State’s hype around one month ago, pounding hard on the Buckeyes as double-digit home favorites over Sparty. The result? The Spartans not only upset Ohio State, but they did so in convincing fashion. And then there is the wild last-gasp win they recorded at Michigan, underlining their grit and never-say-die attitude. Added to the fact that the Spartans have covered the spread in five of their last seven games to close the year, and are also 18-7 ATS in their last 25 games away from home, I am strongly convinced that Michigan State will hang tight here to at least cover the spread once again, if not deliver an upset SU win altogether.

Predictions and Picks: The Spartans play well enough to cover the spread, with both teams scoring 20-plus points to take the total OVER. Predicted Score: Alabama 28, Michigan State 24.