Videos by OutKick
After a year that felt like it’d never end, 2021 has finally arrived! That means the College Football Playoffs are here, and while a new year typically brings new beginnings, the playoffs feature familiar faces, and I’ve got the betting guide to help you make your gambling picks.
So instead of wasting your New Year’s resolution on something you’ll never finish, let’s ring in the new year with some winners.
And, if you’re new to sports betting and want to bet the College Football Playoffs, you can still get a risk-free bet at the FanDuel Sportsbook of up to $1,000. The offer is good for new users only but provides unbeatable insurance for your first bet. Sign up by clicking this link.
Without further ado, let’s get into the games.
Rose Bowl: No. 4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-1) vs. No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-0)
- Moneyline: ND: (+610), BAMA: (-1000)
- Spread: ND: +18.5 (-108), BAMA: -18.5 (-112)
- Total: Over 65.5: (-110), Under 65.5: (-110)
Alabama vs. Notre Dame kicks off the College Football Playoffs around 4 p.m. ET on ESPN. While it’s billed as the Rose Bowl Game, the contest won’t play at the Rose Bowl due to California restrictions. Instead, the game will take place at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
You won’t get the most beautiful sunset in sports like you would in Pasadena, but you’ll get perfect conditions and a fantastic game to bet!
There’s not much more we need to analyze with these teams. We’re all familiar with the programs, we know the history, and Alabama needs to play their worst football this season to lose. I wouldn’t bank on it. In my opinion, this is the best Crimson Tide squad Saban has coached. They’ll come out firing early, like they always do.
Still, the books did a great job with the spread. The consensus is that we’ll either see an Alabama blowout win or a Fighting Irish backdoor cover. Either way, while everyone expects the Crimson Tide to be in the National Title game, three scores is a ton to lay in a playoff game, especially against a team whose only loss is to Clemson (whom they also beat.)
With that in mind, I can’t find an edge on the full-game spread, so I’m not betting it. There is an edge in the half game spread, however. To steal from Clay, it’s a blood bank guarantee.
The Pick: Alabama 1H -10.5
If you’ve been following OutKick Bets on here or on Twitter, you knew it was coming. This bet hasn’t lost for us this season. We’re riding it into the playoffs, as it has brought weekly profits.
As I wrote above, I genuinely believe this is Saban’s best Alabama team ever. For some reason, the market never caught up to it. Alabama’s first half spread has been the safest bet in all of college football.
It’s because Alabama always lights it up early. The Crimson Tide are the best in the country through two quarters, averaging 29.6 first half points per game. Their offense converts red zone trips into touchdowns 92.31% of the time. Alabama also has an equally great red zone defense, keeping opponents from scoring touchdowns 69.57% of the time. They’re an unbelievably balanced team on both sides of the ball.
Notre Dame is no slouch, though. The Fighting Irish defense is excellent, forcing opponents to 4th down 70% of the time. However, Alabama is the best in the nation at converting on third down at 59.20%. Aside from maybe Clemson, Notre Dame hasn’t faced an offense quite like it. Besides, the Fighting Irish don’t have the offense to match Mac Jones & Co.’s impending early output.
Take Alabama first half, so you don’t leave the possibility of a backdoor cover.
Sugar Bowl: No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes (6-0) vs. No. 2 Clemson Tigers (10-1)
- Moneyline: OSU: (+220), CLEM: (-280)
- Spread: OSU: +7.5 (-115), CLEM: -7.5 (-105)
- Total: Over 67.5: (-114), Under 67.5: (-106)
The late game features two opponents we know well. It kicks off on ESPN around 8 p.m. ET from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
We’ve got a great quarterback matchup between two of the nation’s finest, Trevor Lawrence vs. Justin Fields.
For me, this is the more intriguing playoff matchup because Ohio State will probably be the only team ever to make the playoffs after playing only six games. Feel free to debate whether you think they deserved it (Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney doesn’t think so.)
Because of the small sample size, I don’t have a great read on the spread or total, so it’s a no play for me, as it stands. I lean Clemson but not enough to endorse it just yet. If the number lowers by kickoff, I’m all over it, so keep an eye out!
The Pick: No Play (for now)
I am going to bet something I rarely play: a Moneyline parlay.
There’s at least some value in taking these teams together straight up, as all they need to do is win. If you parlay Alabama (-1000) with Clemson (-280), your odds are -203 . It might not be worth it to you to spend the money on the “juice,” but I think it’s a sure bet. Consider it.
Best of luck to you all, and have a safe and wonderful New Year’s Day!