2023 College Football Playoffs: Odds, best bets & predictions

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Michigan vs Penn state
Michigan wide receiver Roman Wilson (1) celebrates a first-down reception against Purdue in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The 2023 College Football Playoffs are coming, and yet again, the conversations are pointed directly at the committee. With Georgia’s loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship, their 29-game winning streak was erased, and so went their playoff hopes.

That wasn’t even the most controversial snub. That crown goes to the undefeated ACC Champion Florida State Seminoles. With a 16-6 win over Louisville to complete their perfect season, a third-string quarterback and lackluster offense still have them on the outside looking in.

So, with the field set, we wanted to give you our picks and a nice little Exacta that will come out of my Christmas bonus.

2023 College Football Playoffs | Odds to win

Michigan | +175 to win CFP

Sliding into the #1 spot vacated by Georgia, Michigan will trot out quarterback J.J. McCarthy to take on Nick Saban and Alabama on New Year’s Day. Arguably kicking off the playoffs with the most challenging matchup, McCarthy must pull a rabbit out of his hat.

Over the last four games, McCarthy has averaged just 124 passing yards per game and matched it with a 1:1 TD-to-interception ratio. That’s just one total touchdown for the vaunted Wolverine quarterback despite a 4-0 record. Even with the second-best defense in the NCAA, in a CFP field that doesn’t lack offensive prowess, Michigan will need McCarthy to rediscover his early-season form to win and advance.

Michigan vs Penn state
Penn State defensive end Adisa Isaac (20) sacks Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa (3) during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, in College Park, Md. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Confidence Level to win the Championship | 6/10

Washington | +800 to win CFP

Admittedly, as an East Coaster, I haven’t watched much Washington Husky football. Still, Michael Penix Jr. finished the season tied for second in touchdown passes in college football, and you can’t argue with success like that. P.S. I can’t wait to see him operate another Washington offense next year in the NFL – the Commanders, of course (early prediction).

Penix had to be unique with the 90th-ranked defense in the country, and it’ll be an uphill battle outside the safety of the PAC-12. The oddsmakers seem to agree. At the moment, Washington has almost 8-to-1 odds to win the championship, a glaring disparity versus the field.

There could be a lot of money to be made, but first, they need to get past Quinn Ewers and the officially ‘back’ Texas Longhorns.

Confidence Level to win the Championship | 4.5/10

Texas | +260 to win CFP

Steve Sarkisian has led the Longhorns back to the promised land. With a first-round matchup against Washington, they may have the cleanest path to the championship.

You’ll see plenty of offense out of Texas and Washington, likely producing the most exciting game of the group. I’m also expecting a big turnout from Longhorn Nation just down the road in New Orleans.

The Texas edge will be a defense allowing 321.7 YPG, the 23rd-best in the country. With Washington allowing close to 400 YPG, it’ll be all about who can make an essential stop—enough cliches.

Confidence Level to win the Championship | 7.5/10

Alabama | +210 to win CFP

To quote a friend, ‘Nobody backdoors a Championship like Alabama.’ After what many would consider a relatively disappointing season, up until their SEC crown, the Tide have still found a way to sneak their way into the CFP.

With a win against Michigan in the first round, which doesn’t sound crazy considering they managed to make it here in the first place, Bama would be back in the National Championship for the 6th time in the last nine years. Incredible.

College football
FILE – Alabama defensive back Kool-Aid McKinstry (1) walks off the fields after a win over Louisiana-Monroe in an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. McKinstry was named to The Associated Press preseason All-America team, Monday, Aug. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt, File)

So even with the 18th-ranked defense and 53rd-ranked offense, Alabama could be your NCAA National Champion as we ring in the New Year. Hard to count out Nick Saban until he proves us otherwise.

Confidence Level to win the Championship | 7/10

Exacta Bonus Bet | Texas to defeat Alabama | +600

This is my bet. If you think we’ll see a Texas-Alabama revenge match, you can get 6-to-1 odds with Texas winning the whole thing. Hook ’em.

AP Photo/Paul Sancya