Your football weekend hasn’t ended yet. After six NFL Wild Card games on Saturday and Sunday, there’s one more game on the docket tonight: the College Football Playoff National Championship Game between No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Ohio State.
For those who only know me through this newsletter, my primary gig at CBSSports.com is writing about college football. Because of this, I woke up this morning with a serious “Last Day of School” energy. There’s the part of me that’s excited about tonight’s national title game because, well, let’s be honest; tonight’s game is the only reason the season was played. Sure, the schools and conferences will bring up how the players wanted to play, and that playing was good for them — and I’m not arguing there isn’t truth to that — but the College Football Playoff, and the money that comes with it, were the primary reason.
The other reason I feel like it’s the last day of school is that there’s a not-so-insignificant part of me that just wants this college football season to be over. It wasn’t a typical season, and it wasn’t nearly as fun or enjoyable to cover, considering everything going on around it and during it. And if I felt this way covering it, I can only imagine what the players themselves thought. Many left their families in July and didn’t see them again until the end of their season. Some of them spent weeks isolated in hotel rooms because they were roommates with another player who tested positive.
So, yeah, I’m excited to see the season end tonight. Both to crown a champion and to move on with the hope that by the time the 2021 season begins, a sense of normalcy will have returned.
Let’s get it.
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 3 Ohio State, 8 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Under 75 (-110): Should you be a little scared of taking an under in this game? Yeah, you should. We’re dealing with an Alabama team that scored 48.2 points per game this season, going against an Ohio State team averaging 43.4 points per game. In that context, a total of 75 doesn’t seem high enough — but it is the highest total we’ve ever seen in a title game, be it the College Football Playoff or BCS. Also, in the short history of the College Football Playoff, the over has gone 5-1 in title games … but there’s some context we need to remember.
The only time the game has finished under was in the first CFP title game between Ohio State and Oregon. That game just happens to be the only other time we’ve seen a title game with a total in the seventies, as it finished at 72.5. The average total for the first six title games has been 57.8 points, and the average title game has finished with 64.8 points. The only title game to finish with more than 75 points was at the end of the 2015 season when Alabama beat Clemson, 45-40. Furthermore, the average Alabama game has featured 67.2 points. The average Ohio State game has had 65.4 points.
I’m expecting a game that will get close to this total, but given that teams tend to get a bit more conservative in these spots and that both could feature the run game a bit heavier than usual, and I think this total is just a little too high.
Key Trend: The first six CFP Championship Games have featured an average of 64.8 points per game.
Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: What’s the Advanced Computer Model have to say? Well, it’s pretty shy, so it’s not going to just tell you. You’re going to have to click this link.
💰 The Picks
The Pick: First Quarter Alabama -0.5 (-135) — I like Alabama’s value in the first quarter. All season long, Ohio State has been a slower-starting team, and it picks up in the second quarter. In the first quarter, the Buckeyes offense ranks 10th nationally, scoring 10.4 points per game; however, the defense ranks 40th, allowing 4.9 points. In the second quarter, Ohio State ranks third nationally with 14.9 points scored, and the defense leaps to first nationally, allowing only 2.9 points. Compare that to Alabama, which ranks third nationally in points scored per game in the first quarter (12.2) and 14th on defense with only 3.1 points allowed. Based on those trends, the odds favor Alabama having a lead after the first 15 minutes.
Key Trend: Ohio State’s defense ranks 40th nationally in points allowed in the first quarter.
Pacers at Kings, 10 p.m. | TV: League Pass
The Pick: Over 227 (-110) — What we have here is a battle of two teams who are both better offensively than defensively. Did you know that the Pacers are a top 10 offense in the league right now? They are, even though you probably can’t name a Pacers starter unless you’re a Pacers fan. They currently rank sixth in the league in offensive efficiency, while Sacramento is about league average at 16th. Defensively, the Pacers aren’t bad, but their efficiency drops slightly, as they rank 13th in the league.
And then there are the Kings. The only thing they’re the kings of is giving up points, as they rank dead last in the NBA in defensive efficiency. In other words, the Pacers shouldn’t have much trouble putting the ball in the basket, but I don’t think this is an awful matchup for the Kings, either. So I’m betting on this game to go over this total.
Key Trend: The over is 9-4 in Sacramento’s last 13 as an underdog.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: Emory Hunt is 9-2 on picks involving the Crimson Tide. He has another confident pick for the matchup between Alabama and Ohio State in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
💸 The DFS Rundown
PG: Malcolm Brogdon, Pacers
SG: Bradley Beal, Wizards
SF: Khris Middleton, Bucks
PF: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
C: Joel Embiid, Sixers
PG: Raul Neto, Wizards
SG: Tyrese Maxey, Sixers
SF: Danny Green, Sixers
PF: Mike Scott, Sixers
C: Brook Lopez, Bucks
Full lineup advice
Get winning NBA DFS picks from SportsLine pros Mike McClure and Jacob Gibbs. McClure has won almost $2 million in daily Fantasy, while Gibbs crushed the NBA last season, cashing around 65 percent of the time in cash games and nearly 45 percent of the time in tournaments. See their DraftKings advice and FanDuel lineups here.
🏀 NBA Player Props
- Brook Lopez Over 0.5 assists (-105)
- Nikola Vucevic Over 9.5 rebounds (+100)
- Robert Covington Over 1.5 assists (-115)
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