Expert picks for the CFP Semifinals | College Football Enquirer

Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel and Pete Thamel, and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde make their picks for the Cotton Bowl between Alabama and Cincinnati, and the Orange Bowl between Michigan and Georgia.

Video Transcript

DAN WETZEL: All right, let's get to the semis. Oh, by the way, Cotton Bowl. Alabama versus Cincinnati, 3:30 on ABC. 'Bama, they're giving 13 and 1/2. Over-under's 58.5. It's not moved. 80% of the bets, 90% of the money on 'Bama. Pete, who you got?

PETE THAMEL: I got Cincinnati. I gave you the path to potential victory, and I'm going to stick with-- that was on a previous podcast. if anyone wants to hear the case for relentless Cincinnati optimism, I laid it out in detailed terms that I have since been discouraged to not re-detail. So I will take the Bearcats, on the basic premise that their secondary can slow down a 'Bama pass game that's going to be handicapped by the loss of John Metchie. So I'm on the sauce train, that's the shortest way to say it.

PAT FORDE: Yeah. Yeah, our breakdown of this game, actually, I thought was pretty good on the previous pod. So if you want to really get into the weeds on it, yes, go listen to that. If you don't, and you just want to know who to pick or bet on, I just can't go against Alabama in this spot. Nick Saban in semifinal games, doesn't just tend to win, he tends to win big. So I think that they have the advantage against Cincinnati's offensive line, and that will be enough to sway things. Will Anderson, monster, have a monster game. 'Bama wins and covers a big number, but I don't say that with great conviction.

DAN WETZEL: I'm going with the Tide as well. I think too good in semifinal games under Nick Saban. Too much depth, defensively, to wear down that offensive line. I just think the Cincinnati offensive line, I think they pull away late and win. I really thought-- if this got to 14 and 1/2 or 15, I might think more on Cincinnati. But I do respect Pete's ability of the Bearcat, the point on the Bearcats' ability to defend the big play. Should be really fun. I'm excited to see what Cincinnati does in this game. So we will try to get to it.

Orange Bowl later that night, 7:30 on ABC. Michigan, Georgia. Game's in Miami Gardens. Georgia is giving 7 and 1/2. The over-under is 45.4. 80% of the bets, 90% of the monies at BetMGM is on Michigan. But that line has not jumped down, so there you are. Let's start with you this time, Pat.

PAT FORDE: Yeah, the line's just a little too big. The hook says go with Michigan, so I'm going to do that. I think this is a wonderful strength-on-strength match-up of Michigan's Joe Moore Award-winning offensive line against Georgia's phenomenal defensive line. The big, big question, obviously, especially with JT Daniels' status up in the air and possibly out with COVID, is this really just maybe a Stetson Bennett game? There may not be a possibility for a quick hook and to go to Daniels. And so how does Stetson Bennett do with Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo chasing him around? I think it all adds up.

Look, I believe Georgia is the better team. But I don't believe they're so demonstrably better that this ends up being more than a touchdown. So I'm taking the Wolverines to cover, not to win.

PETE THAMEL: We already analyzed this game in depth in the last pod. I will say that the last snapshot we have of Georgia is not indicative of the overall talent of Georgia. And so I am not going to take one bad game against a transcendent player, and stigmatize the entire program, an entire season of work for that last snapshot.

So I think most importantly, Georgia's defense is strength-on-strength with Michigan. And they should be able to grind them to a halt in the run game, or at least slow it down enough where Michigan can't control the game, punt to win. I mean, Michigan is essentially like a juiced-up version of Iowa. It's '09 Stanford. It is big line of scrimmage, punt to win, et cetera.

So I think Georgia can counter that. There's no magician at quarterback to puncture Georgia the way they got punctured in the SEC title game. And I think that Brock Bowers, the excellent freshman Georgia tight end from Napa Valley, will really have a chance to tee off in this game. One, because they target him 26 times a game. And two, I don't think Michigan has the caliber of linebackers, athletically, to keep up with that.

So that's the case for Georgia. I think Georgia wins by 17 points. We can call it what we want.

DAN WETZEL: Wow.

PAT FORDE: Holy moly.

PETE THAMEL: 24-7.

PAT FORDE: 17 points.

DAN WETZEL: Wow, all right. This is tricky. 7 and 1/2's too much for me. I'm going to take Michigan. They have been really, really good this year, really consistent. That defensive line has gotten home on everybody. The quality of teams they played at the end of the year, they had all year to watch tape and try to stop Hutchinson and Ojabo, none of them could do it. They played a better schedule, I think, than Georgia, at least beat better teams. And Stetson Bennett can-- I'd be happy to have him prove me wrong.

But I'm going to take Georgia. I don't think they're going to get big plays through the passing game. And if I get 7 and 1/2 in Michigan, I'm going to take them. So I will take Michigan. I think they'll win, so they'll win and cover. But I think they'll certainly cover. But boy, it's going to be a good one.