Four exciting months albeit strange of college football have come down to this. The four top teams in the nation will meet on New Year’s Day in the College Football Playoff semifinals, though those are not the only bowl games set to be contested in what should be a captivating day of action that should run from noon until midnight on the East Coast. The best day of the 2020-21 bowl slate thus far features three other top 25 teams, all of which are looking to make statements before closing the book on this season.
The biggest games of the day — and the year, of course — are set for the afternoon and night. No. 1 Alabama takes on No. 4 Notre Dame in the first semifinal when the two meet in the Rose Bowl from Arlington, Texas. The Crimson Tide have a significant lead through three quarters and look prepared to claim a spot in the title game.
Then in the night cap, No. 2 Clemson battles No. 3 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl in a rematch of last year’s semifinal. The Tigers came back to knock off the Buckeyes in that one. Will they be able to repeat the feat or will Ohio State make its first national championship game since 2015?
So what will go down Saturday, and which teams should you back over the course of the day? Our CBS Sports college football experts share their insights on the four games and offer their picks both against the spread and straight up. Click on the bowl game names below for a more detailed look at each matchup.
Peach Bowl: (8) Cincinnati vs. (9) Georgia
This one will be a barn-burner. JT Daniels will have his hands full against the stout Bearcats defense, but will find enough juice to get the job done late. With that said, Desmond Ridder will make the Bulldogs’ heads spin enough to give his team the ball late with a chance to spring the upset. They won’t be able to finish it off, but it’ll be within a touchdown. Pick: Cincinnati (+7) | Georgia 31, Cincinnati 27 — Barrett Sallee
Citrus Bowl: (14) Northwestern vs. Auburn
When it comes to handicapping a bowl game, you have to consider a team’s motivation for playing in the game. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that Northwestern will show up ready to play in this game; that’s the way Pat Fitzgerald runs his program and how his teams treat bowl preparation. There’s also the added motivation of it being Mike Hankwitz’s final game as defensive coordinator. I can’t say I’m confident Auburn will be all that motivated. As mentioned above, it’s a team coming off a disappointing season playing under an interim coach who wanted the full-time job and didn’t get it. Northwestern’s offense isn’t good enough to make me believe the Wildcats can run away with this game, and letting Auburn hang around could be all the motivation it needs. I do think the Wildcats cover in the end, however. Pick: Northwestern -3.5 | Northwestern 23, Auburn 17 — Tom Fornelli
Rose Bowl semifinal: (1) Alabama vs. (4) Notre Dame
Notre Dame has been too solid, too veteran-led and too ready to answer the challenge all season for me to think we see another steamrolling like the 2013 BCS Championship Game. I don’t doubt that Alabama will strike early and likely be in control for most of the game, but this is too many daggum points for a College Football Playoff semifinal between two teams who have a combined 21-1 on the year. Pick: Notre Dame +20 | Alabama 45, Notre Dame 28 — Chip Patterson
So who wins Alabama vs. Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl? And what critical X-factor makes one side of the spread a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to find out which side of the Notre Dame vs. Alabama spread you should be all over, all from the expert who is 9-1 in his last 10 against-the-spread picks involving the Crimson Tide.
Sugar Bowl semifinal: (2) Clemson vs. (3) Ohio State
I’m not sure why Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has been so willing to provide Ohio State with bulletin board material the last few weeks, but he’s not shy about it. Swinney is adamant about his belief that Ohio State shouldn’t have been selected for the College Football Playoff because it only played six games. Now, we all know that if had it been Clemson who had been limited to only six games, Swinney would not be arguing his team didn’t belong. Still, it doesn’t mean he’s wrong. It is advantageous for the Buckeyes to only have to play six games, but I don’t think it’s enough of an advantage that they win this game. When Clemson has Trevor Lawrence, it has looked like the juggernaut we all expected it to be. Ohio State looked terrific in its first three games but has been inconsistent since with Justin Fields especially struggling to find his confidence. Unless Fields reverts to his elite form, it’s hard to imagine the Buckeyes keeping this game within a touchdown. Pick: Clemson -7.5 | Clemson 31, Ohio State 21 — Tom Fornelli
So who wins Clemson vs. Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl? And what critical X-factor makes one side of the spread a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to find out which side of the Ohio State vs. Clemson spread you should be all over, all from the expert who is 11-2 in his last 13 against-the-spread picks involving the Tigers.
Published: 2021-01-01 23:48:06
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