TJ’S THREE: PLAYOFF GAMES Last week: 0-1 Straight Up; 0-1 ATS (Against the Spread) Season: 27-19 Straight Up; 20-25 ATS
Cincinnati -v- Alabama (Dallas, TX) Alabama -14 per FanDuel
Cincinnati is 13-0 and ranked #4 in the College Football Playoff poll. They’re led by senior QB Desmond Ridder who has thrown for 3,190 yards, 30 TD’s and 8 Int’s. Ridder is also the Bearcats 2nd leading rusher with 371 yards and 6 TD’s. The rushing attack is led by junior RB Jerome Ford who has 1,242 yards and 19 TD’s. Ridder’s favorite target is senior WR Alec Pierce who has 50 catches for 867 yards and 8 TD’s. Sophomore WR Tyler Scott has chipped in 26 catches for 477 yards and 5 TD’s. The defense has been great, giving up 305.8 yards per game, (8th nationally), 16.08 points per game, (tied for 4th nationally) while getting 37 sacks, 18 Int’s and 15 fumble recoveries. Senior LB Joel Dublanko is the leader of the Cincy defense with 106 tackles, 56 solo, 5.5 sacks, 1 Int, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery. Senior DL Curtis Brooks leads the Bearcats with 7.5 sacks. The Cincy secondary is incredible, led by senior CB Coby Bryant who has 11 passes broken up, 3 Int’s, 1 returned for a TD and 2 forced fumbles. The other CB is junior Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner. Gardner has 4 passes broken up, 3 Int’s and 1 forced fumble. Oh yeah, Gardner also has never given up a receiving touchdown in his collegiate career, a mind-blowing stat!
Alabama is 12-1 and ranked #1 in the College Football Playoff poll. This year’s Heisman Trophy winner leads the Crimson Tide, sophomore QB Bryce Young. Young was 4th in the country with 4,322 passing yards, 2nd with 43 passing TD’s and 8th with only 4 Int’s. Senior RB Brian Robinson, Jr. led Alabama in rushing with 1,071 yards and 14 TD’s, while adding 31 catches for 268 yards and 2 TD’s. Alabama has one of the best WR duos in the country as junior WR Jameson Williams has 68 catches for 1,445 yards (5th nationally) and 15 TD’s (3rd nationally). Fellow junior WR John Metchie, III has 96 catches (6th nationally) for 1,142 yards and 8 TD’s. Unfortunately, Metchie is out with a knee injury suffered in the SEC Championship Game. Alabama’s defense has been good, but not up to the standard set by previous Nick Saban Alabama defenses. They give up 306.1 yards per game, 20.23 points per game while getting 46 sacks, 15 Int’s and 5 fumble recoveries. Junior LB Henry To’o leads with 100 tackles, 47 solo, 4 sacks and 1 forced fumble. Super sophomore LB Will Anderson, Jr. has had an incredible season, getting 91 tackles, 52 solo and leads the nation with 15.5 sacks. Junior DB Jordan Battle has 74 tackles, 40 solo, 3 passes broken up, and 3 Int’s, 2 of which he’s returned for TD’s.
Prediction: The mentality has always been the safe pick is to take Nick Saban and Alabama. Saban is, arguably, the greatest coach ever in College Football. He wins and wins and wins. His teams are some of the best prepared teams for each game they play, no matter who the opponent is. Cincinnati has been good all year. Their competition hasn’t been what Alabama’s has been, but the Bearcats have been great this season. Ridder and the Cincy passing attack should be able to move the ball against Alabama’s defense and to be honest, the Bearcats are playing with a chip on their shoulder. About everyone is picking Bama to blow out Cincinnati. I’m not one of them. I think Cincy can pull this off. Bryce Young will have a great game for the Crimson Tide, but I think Ridder and the Bearcat offense do enough to pull off the upset. Cincinnati: 37 Alabama: 33, take Cincy getting the points.
Michigan -v- Georgia (Miami, FL) Georgia -7.5 per FanDuel
Michigan is 12-1 and ranked #2 in the College Football Playoff poll. Junior QB Cade McNamara leads the Wolverines with 2,470 yards passing with 15 TD’s and is tied for 8th nationally with only 4 Int’s. Senior RB Hassan Haskins is the top rusher with 1,288 yards and 20 TD’s. Sophomore RB Blake Corum was 2nd with 939 rushing yards and 11 TD’s. Junior WR Cornelius Johnson leads the Wolverine receivers with 38 catches for 609 yards and 3 TD’s. No Michigan receiver had more than 3 TD’s. The Michigan defense was good, giving up 316.7 yards per game and 16.08 points per game while getting 34 sacks, 8 Int’s and recovering 8 fumbles. Senior DE Aidan Hutchinson was the Heisman Trophy runner-up and is expected to be one of the top 5 picks in the NFL draft. Hutchinson is 3rd in the country with 14 sacks. Senior LB Josh Ross leads the Wolverines with 95 tackles, 50 of which are solo.
Georgia is 12-1 and ranked #3 in the College Football Playoff poll. Senior QB Stetson Bennett stepped in for an injured JT Daniels and finished the season with 2,325 yards, 24 TD’s and 7 Int’s. Junior RB Zamir White led the Bulldogs rushers with 718 yards and 10 TD’s. Senior RB James Cook was 2nd with 619 yards and 7 TD’s. Phenomenal first-year TE Brock Bowers was the Dawgs’ leading receiver with 47 catches for 791 yards and 11 TD’s. Another first-year student, WR Ladd McConkey, was 2nd with 28 catches for 430 yards and 5 TD’s. The Dawgs defense has been ridiculous giving up 254.4 yards per game (2nd nationally), 9.54 ppg, (1st nationally) while getting 41 sacks, 12 Int’s, 3 that were returned for TD’s and 4 fumble recoveries. Junior LB Nakobe Dean tied for the team lead with 61 tackles and 5 sacks, he also had 2 Int’s, 1 TD and 1 forced fumble. Junior DB Lewis Cine also had 61 tackles but led the team with 33 solo tackles and 8 passes broken up to go along with 1 Int and 1 forced fumble.
Prediction: This game will be a defensive football fan’s dream! Both defenses are ridiculously good and the offenses, while decent are not going to put up a ton of points. Georgia has shown confidence in Stetson Bennett, and he has rewarded that confidence with an impressive run this season. Hassan Haskins is a beast, but I think Georgia’s front 7 are just too much for the Michigan run game. Georgia: 17 Michigan: 10 Georgia will win the game, but Michigan will barely cover.