World
close

View Sportsbooks, Odds and Promotions available in your state.

backgroundLayer 1
BETTING

5 Things We Learned From the CFP Semifinals to Consider for the National Championship

Dillon Johnson Washington Huskies v Texas Longhorns
Dillon Johnson #7 of the Washington Huskies scores a touchdown during the first quarter against the Texas Longhorns during the CFP Semifinal Allstate Sugar Bowl. Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images/AFP

The National Championship game between the Michigan Wolverines and Washington Huskies is approaching, and before we determine our best bets for that game, we should consider what we just saw from both teams.

In the two semifinal games, we learned a lot things about both teams that escaped our notice during conference play. The results were: Michigan defeated Alabama 27-20 and Washington defeated Texas 37-31.

Here are five lessons from those games that we should keep in mind when considering what to bet on in the National Championship.

1. Special Teams Matter

If you read a betting preview for a specific football game, I’m willing to be that you won’t find a word about special teams. We tend to overlook special teams to consider offense and defense.

Of course, offense and defense are, overall, both more important than special teams. But part of the reason why we don’t consider special teams is that we take special teams for granted

We like to assume that field goal kickers will make their kicks and that the other aspects of special teams, such as snaps and punt returns, will go smoothly. However, we learned in the Michigan-Alabama semifinal that we cannot make this assumption.

Assuming that special teams will go well is dangerous – it can cost us our bets. Consider that Michigan was favored by 2.5 points to beat Alabama. Because of Michigan’s punt return fumble, which led to Alabama’s first touchdown, the Wolverines required a last-minute drive just to have a chance at covering the spread by taking the game into overtime.

2. Pressure Matters

When we bet, we like to look at statistics and allow them to guide us, and rightly so. But if you look at a box score, the only statistic you’ll see that’s indicative to any extent of the pressure that a quarterback faced is the number of sacks that he took.

Sacks are an insufficient statistic because they don’t address a quarterback’s ability to throw the ball – obviously, if a quarterback gets sacked, then that means he hasn’t gotten off a pass.

We need to see the number of times that a quarterback was under pressure. This would be hard to quantify – it is hard to determine what exactly constitutes being under pressure, but it is important because being under pressure affects one’s ability to pass accurately.

If a defense is good at applying pressure, then that creates a more negative outlook for the opposing quarterback.

Pressure During the Semifinals

It is therefore so important to watch these games. Both games, in different ways, proved how important it is to consider a defense’s ability to apply pressure.

We learned that Michigan does a very good job of applying pressure. Its defensive coordinator, Jesse Minter, is nothing short of a genius. With his blitzes, his coverage schemes, and his disguises, he made downfield passing difficult for Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe. 

Because of Minter, Milroe lacked sufficient time to throw downfield, and he also took extra time to navigate his reads. His 116 passing yards was a season low.

Conversely, in his team’s win over Texas, Washington quarterback Michael Penix was able to stand in the pocket and comfortably deliver passes downfield. He looked so great because he is an accurate quarterback but also because Texas’ defense often made it easy for him.

Washington won’t have such an easy time scoring against Michigan’s defense because of Minter. When we consider his outlook against Michigan, we’ll have to consider Penix’s intelligence level, his ability to go through reads, diagnose disguises, and process coverages.

3. Dillon Johnson Is Important

A look at the box score suggests that Washington running back Dillon Johnson isn’t so vital to his offense. While his stat line is unattractive, the fact is that he is very important to his offense’s overall outlook.

He is a physical runner who will help wear down a defense. He is also clutch, using his power to extend drives and to come up with crucial yards when his team really needs him.

His leg injury is something that we need to monitor in order to determine what we should bet. At the moment, his status for the big game appears to be up in the air.

4. Michael Penix Is A Great Passer

While Washington will face a tougher defensive test in Michigan, we also need to consider that Michael Penix is a better passer than Jalen Milroe. Penix was second place in Heisman voting for good reason.

The throws that he is able to make downfield and elsewhere are incredible. Video footage shows that he is both accurate and has a strong arm.

While Michigan could handle Milroe, the fact is that we still haven’t really seen Michigan’s defense go up against a great quarterback – the Big Ten lacks good quarterbacks.

The point is that we can’t just assume that Penix will struggle to the extent that Milroe did.

5. Michigan Is Physical

We learned just how physical Michigan plays on both sides of the ball, with its award-winning, well-coached offensive line that has overcome the injury to Zak Zinter, and with its defense that tackles hard and repeatedly tries to rip the ball loose.

In its Pac-12 Championship win, Washington proved physically superior to Oregon by, for example, shutting down the Ducks’ run game.

If the Huskies can also shut down Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards, then Michigan’s run-heavy offense will be in trouble.

Caesars
Ease of Use
5.0

Simplicity and intuitiveness of the platform's design

Welcome Bonuses
4.5

Offers available upon initial signup

App Store Rating
4.5

User ratings on the Apple App Store

Play Store Rating
4.0

User ratings on the Google Play Store

Odds Quality
4.0

How the sportsbook's odds stack up against competitors

BetWay Sportsbook logo
Ease of Use
5.0

Simplicity and intuitiveness of the platform's design

Welcome Bonuses
4.6

Offers available upon initial signup

App Store Rating
4.4

User ratings on the Apple App Store

Odds Quality
4.3

How the sportsbook's odds stack up against competitors

Odds Quality
4.3

How the sportsbook's odds stack up against competitors

Bet365
Odds Quality
4.7

How the sportsbook's odds stack up against competitors

Play Store Rating
4.7

User ratings on the Google Play Store

Ease of Use
4.5

Simplicity and intuitiveness of the platform's design

Welcome Bonuses
4.3

Offers available upon initial signup

App Store Rating
4.1

User ratings on the Apple App Store

Join the
OddsTrader Newsletter
Table of Contents
oddstraderLogo
Follow us on

© OddsTrader 2024 All Rights Reserved

21+ Seek help with a gambling addiction at 1-800-Gambler. OddsTrader is licensed to operate in NJ, NY, PA, IN, CO, IA, IL, VA, WV, TN, CT, MI, AZ, LA, WY, OR, KS, DC, MA & OH.