College Football Betting Guide: Saturday 12/19/20

Championship week is finally here, and while Florida tarnished it a little with their loss to LSU last week, there are still a few interesting scenarios that could play out for the College Football Playoff berths. There aren’t too many valuable bets against the spread per our model’s projections, so we’ll stick with totals in the most anticipated matchups this week.

numberFire has built comprehensive algorithms to pinpoint the bets with the highest probability of returning money, whether you are betting on the total, the spread, or the moneyline. For those new to numberFire, we use a five-star system to show which bets you should be targeting for any given game. Stars represent how much you should risk on a wager relative to what you would normally bet.

For example, if you would normally bet $110 to win $100 on a -110-spread wager, if we give a 3-star ranking, we suggest risking three times that amount: $330 to win $300. Here are the best bets for this weekend with guidance from our model.

Please note that lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. Please check here to make sure you are seeing the most updated information.

Clemson Tigers vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Over 59.5: 3-Star Rating out of 5

In their first meeting this season, Clemson and Notre Dame scored a total of 87 points in an overtime thriller. Both offenses put up enough points in regulation (66) to beat this iteration’s total and Clemson was without its best offensive player, Trevor Lawrence. This game projects to be another offensive battle, despite both teams employing defenses amongst the nation’s best.

Notre Dame shut down Travis Etienne, who is arguably the country’s best running back and the top NFL prospect at his position according to CBS Sports. The Irish have allowed under 100 yards on the ground per game and rank first in defensive line yards and stuff rate per Football Outsiders. Backup quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei had to throw for 439 yards to keep the Tigers in the game, but with Lawrence back and a more prepared Clemson offense, bettors can expect Notre Dame to have more difficulty this time around. One weakness the Tigers might exploit is Notre Dame’s pass rush: the Irish rank just 56th in sack rate on passing downs. If Trevor Lawrence has time to work in third and long situations, it could be a long night for the Notre Dame defense.

Bettors won’t need to rely on the Tigers to carry the game over the total because Notre Dame’s offense is capable of scoring, too. Running back Kyren Williams ran for 140 yards on just 23 attempts and Ian Book threw for over 300 yards as well in the first matchup. Williams could replicate his performance on Saturday by taking advantage of Clemson’s defensive line which ranks just 68th in power success rate. Our model projects the total to surpass 59.5 with a likelihood of 66.53%, which would net bettors a 27.00% return.

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Florida Gators

Under 73.5: 5-Star Rating out of 5

It takes an offense of the caliber of the Tide to make a total this high. Florida hurt their case last week by allowing 37 points to an LSU squad that has struggled on offense after winning the title last season, as they’re ranked 52nd offensively according to ESPN’s SP+. Meanwhile, Alabama has been firing on all cylinders with Mac Jones, who leads the nation in QBR per ESPN and has completed 76.4% of his passes for a whopping 3,321 yards. Jones is the current favorite to win the Heisman at FanDuel Sportsbook, and to make matters worse for opponents, his top weapon at receiver, Devonta Smith, is currently the second favorite to win the Heisman.

While Florida’s defense has gotten them in trouble at times this season, they have had an effective pass rush, leading the SEC in sacks with 31. Alabama’s offensive line is formidable, but they rank just 46th in standard down sack rate and 24th in passing down sack rate. The Gators have the means to pressure Jones, which would make scoring much more difficult for the Tide.

Florida has an elite offense due to the emergence of Kyle Trask, but Alabama has the defense to contain them with multiple potential first-round picks in the upcoming NFL Draft. Our model recognizes that both defenses are capable of containing the opposing offenses to a degree; thus the total is projected to stay under 73.5 with a likelihood of 72.77% which would net bettors a 38.90% return. The total is as high as 74.5 at some sportsbooks, so bettors should consult oddsFire to make sure they’re getting the best line.