College football bowl season is well underway, but the main event takes place on Saturday with the College Football Playoff semifinals. In the early game, No. 3 TCU is a 7.5-point underdog against No. 2 Michigan. In the nightcap, No. 1 Georgia is a 6.5-point favorite over No. 4 Ohio State. Which way is the betting action going with kickoff just a day away?
Bettors like the favorites
In the last five years of the College Football Playoff semifinals, favorites are 9-1 straight up and 7-3 against the spread. Since the start of this playoff format, only three semifinal games have been decided by single digit margins. On the flip side, nine semifinal games have been decided by at least 20 points. In other words, big and comfortable victories are common at this stage.
Bettors must have taken note of those trends, as both favorites are getting a vast majority of the action at BetMGM. In the TCU-Michigan game, 69% of bets and 72% of the money is backing Michigan to cover as a 7.5-point favorite. In Ohio State-Georgia, a staggering 82% of bets and 85% of money is backing the Bulldogs to cover as a 6.5-point favorite.
This is the first time since the 2017 playoffs that there isn't a double digit favorite in the semifinals. Maybe that will lead to closer games on Saturday, though bettors certainly hope that isn't the case. In addition to the spread bets, a Michigan and Georgia moneyline parlay will certainly be a popular bet. That parlay comes with odds of -123.
Ohio State has been in this role recently
Earlier we mentioned that in the last five years, favorites have won nine of the last ten semifinal games. The only team to upset the apple cart over that stretch was Ohio State in the 2020 playoffs. The Buckeyes were 7-point underdogs against Clemson, but went on to beat them by a score of 49-28. Ohio State is in a similar spot this year, being an underdog of just under a touchdown.
The last memory we have of this Buckeyes team is them getting manhandled in the second half by Michigan. That clouds the view of what was otherwise a pretty impressive season. For a lot of the season, this Buckeyes team was viewed as the second best team in the country.
Ohio State's offense against Georgia's defense is the matchup most are looking forward to when it comes to this game. Ohio State averaged 44.5 points per game, which was second best in the country. They led the nation in yards per play with 7.2. On the flip side, Georgia's defense ranked second giving up just 12.8 points per game.
On the other side of the ball, it's hard to envision a world where Georgia doesn't try to replicate what Michigan did to Ohio State. Both teams are more known for the other side of the football, but both Georgia's offense and Ohio State's defense ranked top 20 in a lot of categories.
The Buckeyes are a dangerous team. I'm sure Georgia was hoping the Buckeyes couldn't find their way back into the mix for the final playoff spot. This is a Georgia team that won every game except one by double digits, but it wouldn't be surprising if Ohio State kept this game close. Georgia is looking to become the first team in the College Football era to win back-to-back titles. Georgia is a -145 favorite to win it all.
TCU has been good to bettors all season long
TCU has been a team that a lot of people have doubted all season long. They played a lot of close games, they had a bunch of comeback victories, and they got fortunate playing a few backup quarterbacks this season. However, there's no denying they've won games and made bettors money all season long.
TCU went 9-3-1 against the spread this season, giving them the fifth best record of any team in the country. The Horned Frogs were underdogs just twice, early on against Oklahoma and then later on against Texas. TCU won both games outright. TCU is +240 to beat Michigan on Saturday.
Can TCU keep that magic going? Both teams had offenses ranked in the top seven nationally, while Michigan had the better defensive unit. TCU has the better passing attack, while Michigan had the slightly better rushing attack. The key in this game will be TCU's ability to stop Michigan's ground attack. If it can do that, it might continue lining the pockets of bettors.