Betting: Strengths and Weaknesses for CFP Semifinalists
Pamela Maldonado and Mark Drumheller give you the reasons why all 4 College Football Playoff semfinalists can win the national championship and what the fatal flaw is for each of the 4 teams.
PAM MALDONADO: The college football playoff is set with four teams competing for the national title-- Georgia, Michigan, TCU and Ohio State. I'm Pam Maldonado joined by Mark Drumheller, here to give you the reasons why each team can, in fact, win it all and tell you the fatal flaw for all four teams. Let's start with you, Mark. Taking a look at both Georgia and Ohio State, why can't either win? And tell me, what's the flaw?
MARK DRUMHELLER: Let's start with the Georgia Bulldogs. The main reason they can win it all is they're the most dominating team in the trenches. They average 207 yards rushing per game, and they only allow 77. That's a massive 130 yard differential. They bring a level of physicality that other teams just can't match. And it's a huge advantage in close games when you need to get critical yards.
Another reason they can win it all is their experience. They've won on the big stage with Stetson Bennett, and there's a certain level of confidence that comes with being the national champion. You know, Kirby Smart no longer walks in the shadow of Nick Saban. And the players fully believe, if they do their job, it can lead to another title.
But no team is perfect. So let's talk about their fatal flaw, and that's turnovers. If Georgia falls short, it's going to be because they gave it away. While the other three teams do a great job of protecting the football, Georgia has 16 giveaways [INAUDIBLE] this season. And they're the only team in the playoff field without a positive turnover margin. The Bulldogs can't beat themselves if they want to repeat as national champions.
PAM MALDONADO: So then that's a look at Georgia. What do you think about Ohio State?
MARK DRUMHELLER: The main reason Ohio State can win it all, Pam, is they have elite players at the skill positions-- Heisman finalist CJ Stroud can make all the throws and has the nation's most dynamic wide receiver tandem with Emeka Egbuka and Marvin Harrison Jr. They're both a match-up nightmare for opposing defenses. And when OSU's high-powered offense gets rolling, there's not much defenses can do to stop them.
Another reason the Buckeyes can win it all is their defense is disruptive. Jim Knowles' defense is really getting after the quarterback this season. They rank in the top 10 in pressure rate nationally. And the Buckeyes have done a good job in big games of forcing key turnovers. If they're able to do that, they're as live as anybody in the field.
But let's talk about Ohio State's fatal flaw. And that's that they allow too many explosive plays. They let up 7 plays of 20-plus yards or more against Penn State, and Michigan gashed them for five touchdowns of 45 yards or more. Those are massive momentum shifters. And they're going to have to do a better job of keeping everything in front of them if they want a shot in this playoff.
PAM MALDONADO: All right. So that's a look at both Ohio State and Georgia. I'm going to start looking first to Michigan. The two reasons why Michigan Wolverines can win is number one, the running back position. Sure, they don't have Blake Corum. But it doesn't matter when they have a running back in Donovan Edwards, who is absolutely a fantastic running back this season. 216 rushing yards against Ohio State, another 185 against Purdue-- Edwards is absolutely explosive. In both games, he had a 75, an 85, and a 60 yard run.
He's been playing second fiddle to Blake Corum all season long, but Edwards had the greatest coming out party of any player you could ever ask for in college football.
Reason number two why Michigan can absolutely win the national title is because of that defense. The Wolverines have the best pass rush of the four teams remaining. Between Mike Morris and Eyabi Okie , both stand at at least 6' 5". Morris is 292 pounds. You want to talk about adding a level of physicality that disrupts an offense? That is Morris. Five sacks, four turnovers in just the final two games of the season alone from Michigan's defense. This defense is an absolute headache to any opposing offense.
Now, the one flaw, if there was any from Michigan, who has looked pretty solid all season long-- it is the lack of passing explosiveness and consistency. Wolverines quarterback JJ McCarthy, he has been a solid game manager all season long. He's well protected and protects the ball. But if Harbaugh's offense is 123rd in passing play percentage, potentially, that could be the downfall.
If this comes out into a shootout option, then McCarthy-- is he going to be the guy that leads Michigan to a big national title win? I'm not entirely sure about that. Because McCarthy has only had one 300 yard passing game and finished the season throwing below 53% completion in four of his last five games. The passing game has been a non-factor, but this is the postseason and this is where it could come into play.
That's looking first at Michigan. And now I'm going to look to TCU. Why I think TCU can win it all in the national championship is because Max Duggan himself. He is an absolute gamer. Only four interceptions on the season. If he can't make it work in the passing game, Duggan, he takes it off with his legs, as we just saw in the Big 12 championship game. 110 rushing yards, plus one rushing touchdown. Even with CJ Stroud in the Final Four, it is, to me, no quarterback is as important to its team than Duggan is to TCU. Duggan is the reason for multiple comebacks that the Horned Frogs have seen this season long, including a 38-28 win over K-State mid-season.
Which brings me to my second reason, head coach Sonny Dykes. He is a one hell of a coach. The culture that he has cultivated here with this team, it is a no quit attitude. There's no greater threat than belief, and this team has belief. And it is Sonny Dykes who gave that to TCU. Five of TCU's wins against teams that it lost to by at least two scores last year.
Dykes helped TCU become one of the most explosive offenses in the nation. TCU's offense is tied with Tennessee in the FBS with 13 offensive touchdowns of at least 50 yards. Second in the nation with 17-plus plays of 50 yards and 10 plays of at least 60 yards. When you have an offensive minded coach like Sonny Dykes, absolutely anything is possible.
The one flaw from TCU is the defense. The worst of the Final Four, 72nd in yards allowed, barely cracks the top 50 for opponent yards per play. Allowed K-State running back Deuce Vaughn to rush for 130 yards, gave up 230 rushing yards to Baylor, and earlier in the year let SMU quarterback Tanner Mordecai throw for nearly 400 yards. This is a defense in TCU that is 80th in sack percentage. Outside the top 50 for takeaways.
It is not a strong, defensive unit, but it is the offense that bails them out. The defense has put TCU in a bind, and it is the offense that has put them in winning situations to put them in this playoff spot. But when you're facing teams like Michigan, Ohio State, and Georgia, that bailout may not come. So the defense for TCU is the flaw.
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