The lower seeds in the College Football Playoff national semifinal games on New Year’s Day have seen the betting public back them in wagering at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. They also both happen to be from the SEC, commonly known as the best conference in the country for college football. While that may or may not actually be the case this year, their opponents will get the chance to prove otherwise.
The fourth-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide are now a consensus 3-point favorite against the top-ranked Clemson Tigers in the Sugar Bowl, the second of the two national semifinal matchups and a rematch of last year’s national championship game. Meanwhile, the third-ranked Georgia Bulldogs have gone from small underdogs at most books to small favorites as they meet Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield and the second-ranked Oklahoma Sooners in the Rose Bowl earlier in the day.
Two solid betting trends favor the SEC teams to advance to the National Championship Game as small chalk too. Alabama has gone 11-1 straight up in its last 12 games following a loss, and Georgia has posted a 9-3 mark in its previous 12 January bowls.
But Alabama and Georgia are not the only SEC schools playing on Monday, as the team that beat both of them will also be in action – the seventh-ranked Auburn Tigers. The 12th-ranked Central Florida Knights will attempt to complete a perfect season by handing the Tigers their second consecutive loss, something that seems unlikely as 9.5-point underdogs in the Peach Bowl. Central Florida has lost three straight to Auburn but has gone an impressive 4-1 against the spread in its last five as an underdog.
Before those big bowl games kick off though, there are three other key matchups featuring Top 10 teams starting on Friday. First, the fifth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes take on the eighth-ranked USC Trojans as 7.5-point favorites in the Cotton Bowl. The Buckeyes have lost the past two meetings with the Trojans, but they have gone 11-2 ATS in their previous 13 against Pac-12 schools overall.
On Saturday, two more Big Ten teams will try to prove they belong among the nation’s elite. The ninth-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions face the 11th-ranked Washington Huskies as 2-point chalk in another Big Ten vs. Pac-12 affair in the Fiesta Bowl. Then the sixth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers take on the 10th-ranked Miami Hurricanes as 4.5-point favorites in the Orange Bowl. Penn State is 16-4-1 ATS in its last 21 games while Wisconsin is 4-1 ATS in its past five and 8-1 SU in its previous nine after a loss.
New Year’s Six Bowl Games Betting Lines
Cotton Bowl: USC vs. Ohio State (-7.5)
Fiesta Bowl: Washington vs. Penn State (-2)
Orange Bowl: Wisconsin (-4.5) vs. Miami
Peach Bowl: Central Florida vs. Auburn (-9.5)
Rose Bowl: Georgia (-2) vs. Oklahoma
Sugar Bowl: Alabama (-3) vs. Clemson