January 9, 2023
Three bets worth making when Georgia takes on TCU
(1) Georgia vs. (3) TCU
SoFi Stadium – Inglewood, CA
7:30 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Georgia -13.0
The defending champs taking on the scrappy upstart. That’s the way tonight’s College Football Playoff matchup is being billed, with Georgia in the role of the bully and TCU playing the part of the underdog. To some extent, that’s accurate; after all, the Bulldogs did win the national title last year, while the Horned Frogs started the season unranked. But as the semifinals showed us, where TCU upset Michigan and UGA had to hold off Ohio State, anything is possible.
Georgia doesn’t just win football games, they win them big. The Bulldogs are 14-0 and 12 of the 14 wins have come by at least 10 points. They have a 49-3 win over Oregon on their resume, a 48-7 victory over South Carolina, a 42-10 triumph over Auburn and 50-30 beatdown of LSU. For as much as everyone wants a close title game after two semifinal gems a week ago, this just won’t be it. TCU has played one-possession games four of their last five times out, including a miraculous win at Baylor, a loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 title game and a win over Michigan thanks to some great defensive plays, but also questionable play-calling from the Wolverines and generous officiating. The clock will strike midnight on Cinderella, as Georgia takes a bit of a snoozer, 45-17.
Given that there was 83 points scored in one semifinal last week and 96 in the other, the over is going to be a tempting and popular play. But you have to look at the body of work for both teams, not just one game. And that starts with the Georgia defense. The Bulldogs gave up single-digit points five times this year (3, 0, 7, 0, 6), which included two shutouts. They also surrendered 10 points, 13 points, 19 points and 14 points on four other occasions. That means in nine of 14 games, the opponent didn’t crack 20, which is wild. And considering the majority of that came against an SEC schedule, the Big 12 Horned Frogs will become the 10th. In three of their last five games, the TCU offense was held relatively in check, scoring 17 at Texas, 29 at Baylor and 28 against Kansas State. It’ll become four of six on Monday night. And while the Georgia offense won’t have problems scoring, they can’t do it all on their own. 64 points is a lot, and this game will skim the under with the 45-17 Bulldogs win.
Georgia -7.5 in the first half
In their three toughest games of the regular season, against the highest-ranked opponents, TCU trailed at halftime in all three. They were down 24-13 to No. 8 Oklahoma State, 28-17 to No. 17 Kansas State in the first meeting and 14-10 to No. 10 Kansas State the second one. Meanwhile, in their three games against ranked opponents during the regular season, the Bulldogs came out flying and showed no mercy. They were up 28-3 over No. 11 Oregon at the break, 24-6 over No. 1 Tennessee and 35-10 over No. 14 LSU. Those are three blowouts, with a dominant average margin of 22.67 points of halftime leads. The bright lights and the big stage don’t scare Georgia, so if you’re looking for an “impatient” bet, you can cash in on the Bulldogs in the first half. They’ll come out and smack TCU in the mouth, just like they did other top teams around the country earlier this year.
Three Early Thoughts
Steve Quinne’s first take on Super Wild Card Weekend
Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars
TIAA Bank Field – Jacksonville, FL
8:15 PM ET (Sat)
SuperBook Line: Los Angeles -1.5
Both of these teams are red hot. The Jaguars won their final five games of the season to storm back and win the AFC South, while the Chargers had won four in a row prior to dropping a meaningless season finale to the Broncos. It’s raising some eyebrows that Los Angeles is a slight favorite on the road, especially considering they lost at home to Jacksonville in September, getting blown out 38-10. But the balance of the Chargers offense gives them the edge in this one.
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals
Paycor Stadium – Cincinnati, OH
8:15 PM ET (Sun)
SuperBook Line: Cincinnati -6.5
The Bengals have won eight-straight games, rolling to the AFC North title and the No. 2 seed in the conference. Meanwhile, the Ravens limped into the playoffs, dropping three of their last four games to finish with the sixth seed. Mainly, Baltimore’s struggles have been due to injuries at the quarterback position. Lamar Jackson hasn’t played since Dec. 4. Tyler Huntley missed the season finale. It’s anyone’s guess who will play at Cincinnati. It won’t matter. The Bengals are a legit Super Bowl contender.
Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Raymond James Stadium – Tampa, FL
8:15 PM (Sun)
SuperBook Line: Dallas -3.0
The Buccaneers finished below .500, but rode an 8-9 record to an NFC South title. Meanwhile, the Cowboys went 12-5, but have to play on the road to start the postseason, as they’re the No. 5 overall seed. Seems unfair. Seems ridiculous. But that’s the way the NFL maps things out. As a result, Dallas has to travel to play Tom Brady in the playoffs. That doesn’t sound good. They’re the better team, but it’s tough to go against the GOAT in a high-stakes game. The Cowboys tend to fold. Brady tends to rise to the occasion. Leaning towards Tampa Bay in this one.