College football predictions, odds: Expert picks for LSU vs. Oklahoma, Ohio State vs. Clemson bowl games – CBS Sports,

College football predictions, odds: Expert picks for LSU vs. Oklahoma, Ohio State vs. Clemson bowl games – CBS Sports,

The College Football Playoff semifinals has a familiar feel to it this year, even if it’s different than ever before. No. 3 Clemson, which has made five consecutive playoff appearances and won two of the last three national titles, is back. No. 2 Ohio State will be making its third CFP appearance and is facing Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl just like it did the last time it was chosen. Then there’s No. 4 Oklahoma, which is making its third consecutive appearance and fourth overall. The Sooners have yet to win a playoff game.

Finally, there’s the team ranked No. 1, LSU. The Tigers are making their first appearance in the CFP, though they are the third different SEC team to be chosen in the event’s short history. That gives the SEC more participants than any other conference (the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 have each had two). LSU is here thanks in large part to its win over Alabama, which helped keep the Crimson Tide out of theCollege FootballPlayoff for the first time in history.

This year’s semifinals will be played on Saturday, Dec. 28. No. 1 LSU and No. 4 Oklahoma will square off in the Peach Bowl to open the day with the winner moving on to face whoever comes out of the Fiesta Bowl between No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Clemson.

2019 Peach Bowl: (1) LSU vs. (4) Oklahoma

Spread — LSU -13.5:This game has become more difficult to handicap in the lead up. It has been reported — though not yet confirmed — that Oklahoma has suspended defensive end Ronnie Perkins, running back Rhamondre Stevenson and wide receiver Trejan Bridges for the game. There are also reports that starting safety Delarrin Turner-Yell will be out with a broken collarbone. On the other side, LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire is dealing with a hamstring injury and could miss the game entirely or be less than his best if he does play. So what exactly is one supposed to do?

Well, I’m taking nearly two touchdowns with the Sooners. Yes, the loss of key defensive players like Perkins and Turner-Yell are problematic for the Oklahoma defense. Still, I was never under the impression that the Sooners were going to stop the Tigers offense, anyway. The reason I’m taking Oklahoma and the points is that I’m not convinced the LSU defense will be able to stop the Sooners often enough. This is likely going to be a shootout, and while I believe LSU wins far more often than not, OU should be able to hang around and keep it interesting. Oklahoma just doesn’t get blown out because its offense is too potent. It hasn’t lost a game by more than 13 points since its 45-24 loss at Ohio State in 2016. I expect it to be similar to last year’s Orange Bowl between Oklahoma and Alabama. You never felt Bama was in danger of losing, but Oklahoma made a game of it in the end.Pick: Oklahoma 13.5

Total — 75.5:As mentioned above, this game is likely to be a shootout with both offenses getting the best of the opposing defenses. But enough to push over 75.5 points? One of the odder splits involving LSU this season was how its defense performed in games against winning teams versus losing teams. LSU allowed 19.1 points per game against teams with a winning record. That average climbs all the way to 27.0 points per game against losing teams. In other words, LSU’s defense relaxes against bad teams. Oklahoma isn’t a bad team. I think the spread is the smarter play in this game, but if I were to bet the total, I’d be leaning under just slightly. A 42-31 game would finish below this total, and that’s the kind of game I’m anticipating.Pick: Under 75.5

Top prop — Jalen Hurts 19.5 completions: While it’s natural to think of Oklahoma’s offense as a prolific passing attack, that feeling is based more on its efficiency than volume. The Sooners offense is designed to complete passes for big plays, not throw 70 times per game like other Air Raid attacks. In 2017, when Baker Mayfield won the Heisman, he did so completing 20.4 passes per game. Last year, Kyler Murray averaged 18.6 completions per game. This year, Jalen Hurts is averaging 17.1 completions per game. Hurts has only completed 20 passes or more in five games this season, and he’s only done so once in Oklahoma’s last eight games. Now, this number is this high because there’s a good chance Oklahoma will be trailing and need to throw more, and that could happen. Oklahoma will likely be looking to run more in this game to keep LSU’s offense off the field as long as possible, though, which will reduce overall pass attempts — and therefore completions — as well.Pick: Under 19.5

2019 Fiesta Bowl: (2) Ohio State vs. (3) Clemson

Spread — Clemson -2.5:There’s been a lot of talk coming from Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, who claims nobody has believed in Clemson all season. Well, a look at the prediction table below says the opposite. The reason Clemson was being “disrespected” all season had nothing to do with Clemson itself but rather the teams it was playing. The ACC failed to provide a worthy challenger, and a nonconference game against Texas A&M didn’t provide as much weight as it could have since the Aggies finished 7-5. But Clemson is very good! It is favored over Ohio State for a reason. It is a talented, well-balanced team. Just like the Buckeyes.

I’m not picking Clemson here and thinking it’s a sure thing, but I do believe this will be the best team Ohio State has faced by far itself. In the end, I believe this matchup is something of a coin flip, but if we flip the coin 100 times, it comes up Clemson 52 times. In fact, Clemson has been at its best in these type of games. In the College Football Playoff Era, Clemson has gone 17-9 ATS against ranked opponents. Between Trevor Lawrence and an incredible set of receivers, the Tigers pose matchup problems for a strong Ohio State secondary like they would over any secondary in the country. While Ohio State’s got a great QB and receivers of its own, it’s not quite at the level of Clemson.Pick: Clemson -2.5

Total — 63:This seems high for two of the best defenses in the country, doesn’t it? Well, that’s because, as we’ve seen so often in matchups like this, a well-executed offense with loads of talent overcomes a strong defense most of the time. Still, I think this total is just a bit too high. I have the final score of this game in the range of 31-28, which would leave us under, so that’s the direction I’m heading. Also, Clemson has been in the playoff so often that we have reliable trends to look at! The under has gone 4-0 in Clemson’s four semifinal games, and it’s 6-3 in Ohio State’s last nine bowl games. Pick: Under 63

Top prop — Justyn Ross 69.5 receiving yards: Ross has been the No. 2 receiver in Clemson’s offense this year. Let’s pause to think about how amazing it is that Ross is a No. 2 receiver for a second. Anyway, Ross has averaged 4.6 receptions and 61.8 yards receiving per game. Those numbers are misleading, though, because we have to remember that Clemson has blown all of its opponents out. Of the 12 games Ross has played this season, he’s had 69 or fewer receiving yards eight times, but the average margin of victory for Clemson in those games was 35.8 points per game. Ross wasn’t playing all four quarters. He’ll likely be playing all four quarters in this game. In games against Texas A&M and South Carolina, Ross played a full 60 minutes and averaged eight receptions and 102.5 yards per game. Look for a final stat line much closer to that one against Ohio State.Pick: Over 69.5 receiving yards

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