2023 College Football Playoffs Preview
Welcome to the gridiron spectacle that is the 2023 College Football Playoffs (CFP), where the nation’s top four teams compete for the coveted title of national champions. It’s a high-stakes journey where nearly every play has the potential to significantly impact a team’s championship aspirations.
The 2023 College Football Playoffs kick off with a pair of high-profile matchups on New Year’s Day: It starts with No. 1 Michigan taking on No. 4 Alabama in the Rose Bowl, followed up by No. 2 Washington versus No. 3 Texas in the Sugar Bowl. The winners will advance and take the field in this year’s NCAA National Championship Game on January 8.
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In this article, we’ll preview the 2023 College Football Playoffs, taking a closer look at the four remaining teams and the current betting landscape for their upcoming bowl games on January 1. Whether you’re backing the favorites to hold their own or betting on the dogs for a big payday, the stats and trends shared below will be your playbook for navigating the exhilarating twists of this year’s games.
#1 – Rose Bowl
Alabama Crimson Tide (+1.5) vs Michigan Wolverines (-1.5)
Featuring the matchup college football fans have been talking about for weeks now, this year’s Rose Bowl is must see TV! It’s been a season to remember for Michigan, with the Wolverines finishing the regular season 13-0 and ranked No. 1 in the college football rankings. All of this was accomplished despite the fact that head coach Jim Harbaugh missed six of their games on account of suspension.
Michigan has plenty of talent throughout their lineup – Junior quarterback J.J. McCarthy leads the Wolverines on offense. While his offensive line was hurt by the season-ending injury suffered by guard Zak Zinter versus Ohio State, the unit has come together and will need a solid performance versus Alabama. Luckily, this offense is supported by a potent rushing attack featuring senior running back Blake Corum, who’s rushed for over 1,000 yards and 24 touchdowns on the year. Yet for all their ability to score points, Michigan’s biggest strength actually comes on defense. The Wolverines boast the nation’s top scoring defense, allowing a measly 9.5 points per game, and will be the key to defeating the Crimson Tide in the Rose Bowl.
Alabama overcame a loss early in the year to finish the season at 12-1. They were on the outside of the College Football Playoffs until the very end, before beating the Georgia Bulldogs in a thrilling SEC title Game. The win elevated head coach Nick Saban and company to No. 4 in the rankings, securing their first CFP appearance since 2021.
This team has now won 11 straight games, with their only blemish on the year coming in a Week 2 matchup against Texas. A lot has changed since then, including the ascension of quarterback Jalen Milroe. Over his last 5 games, the sophomore has averaged 220 passing yards per game with 10 touchdown passes and just 1 interception, as well as rushing for an additional 725 yards and 7 touchdowns over that time. Combine that with a defensive roster filled with blue-chip talent, including pass rusher Dallas Turner with his team-leading 9 sacks and 13.5 tackles for a loss, and you can see Alabama has been so tough to beat this season.
Key Trends to Consider:
- Michigan is 0-6 in its last 6 bowl games.
- Alabama is 3-1 as an underdog in the College Football Playoffs.
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#2 – Sugar Bowl
Texas Longhorns (-4) vs Washington Huskies (+4)
On the heels of an impressive 12-1 campaign in the Big 12, the Longhorns are making their first College Football Playoffs appearance in program history as the No. 3 team in the country. Texas picked up a huge win in Week 2 over Alabama, but they also had to overcome a disappointing loss to Oklahoma just a few weeks later. The team is undoubtedly led by sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers, who’s coming off a four-touchdown performance in the Big 12 Championship Game.
It will be interesting to see how Texas manages against Huskies’ top running back, Dillon Johnson. Texas has excelled at stopping the run all year long, giving up just 80.8 yards per game on the ground this season. If they can limit Johnson ability to move the chains, it could help slow down Washington’s explosive offense and give Texas the upper hand in this CFP Semifinal matchup.
The undefeated Huskies may be ranked No. 2 in the college football rankings, but Washington is currently listed as a four-point underdog in this year’s Sugar Bowl. The Huskies did the Pac-12 proud this season, compiling a 13-0 record and representing the conference in this year’s playoffs. They were the most productive passing team in college football in 2023, throwing for 343.8 yards per game. Nearly all of that yardage came from the arm of senior quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who led the entire nation with 4,218 passing yards.
Washington was middle of the pack on defense this year, giving up an average of 23.6 points per game. With Texans quarterback Quinn Ewers looking to pick them apart, they’ll need a big game from their secondary, especially defensive back Jabbar Muhammad in particular, to stand a chance at pulling off the upset. With so much rest leading up to this New Year’s Day bowl game, both sides will be fully rested and that should benefit the Huskies, who have a number of dynamic young players that can change the game on any given play.
Key Trends to Consider:
- Texas is 7-5-1 against the spread this season.
- Washington beat Texas 27-20 in last year’s Alamo Bowl.