College Football Semifinal Betting Picks

(Michigan State is a 10-point underdog against Alabama in the Cotton Bowl.)

For football fans, there isn’t a much better way to ring in the new year than by watching the college football semifinals Thursday afternoon and evening.

Michigan State will take on Alabama in the Cotton Bowl and Clemson will clash with Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, with the winners moving on to the BCS championship game Jan. 11.

Here’s our college football semifinal betting picks, along with why we made them:

Cotton Bowl Betting Pick

Alabama opened as a 10-point favourite over Michigan State and the line has stayed at -10 at most sportsbooks, though Bodog listed the Crimson Tide at -9.5 Wednesday afternoon.

Bama hasn’t lost since September, ranks second overall in total defence and third in points allowed. The Tide also boasts a strong running game, led by Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry, and legendary head coach Nick Saban.

Michigan State continues to be underappreciated, going 5-1-1 against the spread in its last 7 games despite beating Ohio State and Michigan on the road this season. The Spartans are seventh in defence and have a decent offence, though there is concern about injured QB Connor Cook (shoulder).

It seems like a stretch to expect Michigan State to win this game, but we think they can keep it in double digits. The SEC is having a down season and we can’t forget the Big 10 produced last year’s national champion (Ohio State), which Michigan State beat to get to the Cotton Bowl.

We’re taking Michigan State Spartans +10 -106 at Pinnacle Sports as our Cotton Bowl betting pick. We also like the Under 46.5, which you could bet Wednesday afternoon at Pinnacle Sports at -110 odds.

Orange Bowl Betting Pick

Undefeated Clemson was a 3.5 point underdog to Oklahoma and that spread moved to 4 points after news of a couple of suspensions to Clemson players. One question about betting this game is whether the suspensions will serve as a distraction to the Tigers or whether it will help rally them together.

Oklahoma scored 50-plus points six times this year and ranks seventh nationally in total offence. The Sooners have covered six of their last seven games, but they are a bit soft on rush defence which isn’t the best matchup against Clemson.

Clemson is dangerous on offence in both its passing and running attacks, and shredded Oklahoma’s secondary through the air last year. Defensively, Clemson was seventh in total defence and fifth against the pass.

We expect Oklahoma to be motivated by last year’s loss to Clemson. The Sooners have been playing better lately than Clemson and play in a tougher conference, and we expect that momentum to carry into the Orange Bowl. There’s a reason why undefeated Clemson is an underdog here.

Our Orange Bowl betting pick is the Oklahoma Sooners -3.5 -110, a bet you can make at Bet365.