And then there were four. 

After a dramatic conference championship weekend that saw two of the nation’s top four teams suffer losses, the committee finalized one of the least controversial fields in the history of the College Football Playoff: Georgia, Michigan, TCU, and Ohio State. 

There was little drama heading into Sunday’s selections, but there’s plenty of intrigue within the matchups themselves. Can Georgia maintain its title defense against a talented and hungry Ohio State squad? And will Michigan stay undefeated against this plucky TCU squad? 

Here are the odds at BetMGM for the two semifinal matchups and our early lean on each:

Warren Brinson #97 and Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins #93 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrate
Getty Images

College Football playoff predictions and picks 

No. 1 Georgia (-6.5, 60.5) vs. No. 4 Ohio State (Dec. 31, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN)

When I first saw the odds for this game, I was surprised that Georgia wasn’t dealing as a touchdown favorite or bigger. Sure enough, bettors have already pushed this line to 6.5, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see this one cross the key number before kickoff later this month. 

That’s no disrespect to Ohio State, which clearly owns one of the three best rosters in the country. In fact, the argument for the underdog here is simple: These teams were seen as near-equals when the season began, and the Buckeyes lost one game all year to one of the other playoff finalists. 

Clearly, that’s an oversimplification. That loss came on the heels of a tricky win at Maryland, which came two weeks after a near-stumble at one-win Northwestern. Compare that to Georgia, which made quick work of LSU in last week’s SEC final — flashing elite offensive upside with a 50-piece to go alongside the most dominant defense in the country. 

Emeka Egbuka #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes
Emeka Egbuka #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes
Getty Images

Yes, there’s plenty of talent on this Ohio State roster. That wasn’t enough to hold up against Michigan’s offense, which gashed this unit with four touchdowns of 69-plus yards even with superstar Blake Corum (knee) on the sidelines for most of it — a somewhat predictable result for a Buckeyes secondary that hadn’t truly been tested all year. 

I’m skeptical of that unit holding up against Stetson Bennett and this resurgent Bulldogs offense, while C.J. Stroud and Co. have their toughest test yet against this monstrous Georgia front. Kirby Smart’s team blew out Michigan in a similar spot in last year’s semifinals, and I don’t expect this one to be all that much closer. 

Pick: Georgia -6.5 (BetMGM)

Members of the Michigan Wolverines celebrate with Donovan Edwards #7 of the Michigan Wolverines
Members of the Michigan Wolverines celebrate with Donovan Edwards #7 of the Michigan Wolverines
Getty Images

No. 2 Michigan (-9, 59.5) vs. No. 3 TCU (Dec. 31, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN) 

The biggest question heading into this year’s playoff selection wasn’t really whether TCU deserved to be one of the top four teams in the country. Its résumé answered that. The bigger issue at hand: are the Horned Frogs any good? 

Obviously, that’s a bit hyperbolic. This team had to be good to survive a sneakingly loaded Big 12 unscathed before losing in the conference title game to a team it had already beat earlier this season. It also ranked in the top 10 by most advanced metrics with a Heisman Trophy contender at quarterback in Max Duggan. 

Did this group ever really look the part of a playoff team, though? The Horned Frogs won seven straight games by 10 or fewer points at one point, regularly falling behind before relying on late-game heroics. That came back to bite them last week, when their second big deficit of the year against Kansas State was too big to overcome. 

There was rarely a doubt for Michigan, which led the country in average scoring margin (+26.7) and won nine of its 12 games by at least 20 points. That includes the best win by any team this season: a 22-point romp over the very Ohio State team that most consider to be better than TCU, rankings aside 

Max Duggan #15 of the TCU Horned Frogs
Max Duggan #15 of the TCU Horned Frogs
Getty Images

Losing Corum late in the season was a tough blow on paper, but quarterback J.J. McCarthy has come alive late in the year to round out one of the most complete teams in football. TCU deserves credit for its phenomenal season to date, but that should end in convincing fashion on the big stage. 

Pick: Michigan -9 (BetMGM)



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