Big Ten Championship: Best Bets, Predictions, and Preview for Purdue-Michigan

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The regular season in college football ended in spectacular fashion last week, featuring high-stakes rivalry contests and upsets in every major conference. The Big Ten had it all.

In the Big Ten West, where Iowa simply needed to beat a downtrodden Nebraska for the division title, the Cornhuskers upset the Hawkeyes with a remarkable performance on offense. Once Iowa was knocked out, Purdue was in the driver’s seat and took care of business on the road at Indiana to top the West with a 30-16 win over the Hoosiers.

In the Big Ten East, Michigan and Ohio State faced off in Columbus for the division in what was anticipated as the game of the season, with both teams ranked in the top four. The marquee matchup lived up to its billing through three quarters, as Michigan led 24-20 before the final 15 minutes. But the close contest turned into something else entirely in the fourth quarter, as the Wolverines outscored the Buckeyes 21-3 in the final 10 minutes and intercepted Heisman candidate C.J. Stroud twice in the final five. Michigan won the game 45-23 after the runaway ending, keeping its No. 2 CFP ranking and earning its second straight trip to the Big Ten Championship; Ohio State sits No. 5 in the CFP rankings hoping a playoff path emerges for them this weekend with kickoff just hours away.

Purdue vs. Michigan Preview: Wolverines seek second straight conference title (MICH -16.5, o/u 51.5)

Best Bets: Michigan -16.5, Over 51.5

No. 2 Michigan (12-0) and Purdue (8-4) will meet at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Saturday night, with Michigan heavily favored to win its second consecutive Big Ten title. The Wolverines made easy work of the Big Ten Championship game in this building last season, defeating Iowa 42-3. Michigan last won back-to-back conference titles in 2003 and 2004.

Michigan will again be without star running back Blake Corum (at one point considered a Heisman contender), who sat out most of the Ohio State game due to a knee injury and is set to undergo season-ending surgery, according to multiple reports.

The team’s rushing core didn’t slow down in Corum’s absence, though, as sophomore Donovan Edwards earned a career-high 22 carries and 216 rush yards, most of which came on 75- and 85-yard touchdown runs in the final minutes against Ohio State. “If somebody’s down, the whole running back room has to be accountable to get the offense going,” Edwards said after the win.

The Wolverines are exuding confidence and pride ahead of this game following their performance in Columbus last weekend.

“We’re excited to get back there, enjoy it, and dominate,” sophomore quarterback J.J. McCarthy said Wednesday. McCarthy was a star last weekend, creating explosive plays that have sometimes been missing from the Michigan passing game this season. He threw for 263 yards and three touchdowns (of 45, 69, and 75 yards) with no interceptions.

McCarthy said that the team is not taking Purdue lightly, but they of course have bigger goals in mind. “It’s another game in the way of our ultimate goal, which is the national championship,” he told reporters. “We’re still focused on going 15-0.” Michigan’s last national title came in 1997, when the team was voted national champions in the AP Poll, but the win was considered contested because Nebraska won the Coach’s Poll.

RELATED: College Football Playoff expands to 12 teams for 2024 season

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh isn’t taking this weekend lightly either. “First rule of champions – do not let up,” he told Michigan Football Radio on Tuesday.

Despite being the better team, the Wolverines are smart not to underestimate the upset-capable Boilermakers from Purdue. Purdue has nine wins against AP No. 1 and No. 2 sides as an unranked team, more than any other school in the poll era. (Michigan is ranked No. 2 in the CFP and AP rankings.) The Boilermakers have upset No. 2 teams in the Big Ten twice in the last four years, first Ohio State in 2018 and then Iowa in 2021.

Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm engineered both of those upsets, and says his team is hungry heading into this weekend. “They’ve got a chip on their shoulder,” he said Thursday. “They’re out to prove to people what they can do.”

Senior quarterback Aidan O’Connell has been practicing since Wednesday and is expected to play. O’Connell led Purdue to its division-sealing win at Indiana last weekend just days after the sudden death of his older brother, Sean. He went home to be with family following that game and returned in time to practice on Wednesday.

In a statement Sunday, O’Connell said, “Sean was not only one of Purdue Football’s biggest fans, but he was a better son, brother and friend.”

O’Connell leads the Big Ten in passing yards per game with an average of 284, while his favorite target – senior wide receiver Charlie Jones – leads the conference in receiving yards and touchdowns (he’s in the top five nationally for both stats as well).

O’Connell and Jones will have their work cut out for them against one of the top defenses in the country, and Purdue will likely use the full playbook as they go to Indiana with nothing to lose.

Prediction: Jeff Brohm and Purdue have proven their ability to play up to great teams like Michigan, and Michigan could be on a comedown after the huge game at Ohio State last weekend. But the Wolverines showed no sign of comedown after Ohio State last year and they should be able to stay in control of this game to cover, even if Purdue creates a little chaos and scores some points to put the Over in play.

 

More Championship Week Predictions

The team at NBC Sports EDGE has taken a deep dive on this week’s Big Ten Championship game and are serving up their favorite plays for the week. Here’s a preview:

Purdue Team Total Over 17.5 (+110)

Vaughn Dalzell (@VmoneySports)

Aidan O’Connell is expected to play but miss some practice after the unexpected death of his brother prior to the Indiana game.

O’Connell could have another emotional showing as a he went 18-of-29 for 290 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Indiana to clinch the Big Ten Championship berth (30-16 win).

With O’Connell as the starting quarterback, the Boilermakers scored 18 or more points in nine out of 11 games this season and six-straight to end last year (15 of the last 17). The only defenses to keep Purdue Under 18 points was Iowa (3 points) and Norhtwestern (17 points) during that 17-game span. 

While it will be an unpopular bet, Purdue could score two-plus touchdowns on Michigan — Rutgers (17), Penn State (17), Illinois (17), Ohio State (23) and Maryland (27) all scored at least 17 points versus Michigan this season.

 

Read more of the EDGE team’s Big Ten plays here. If you’re looking for a deeper dive into every game this Championship Saturday, join NBC Sports analysts Vaughn Dalzell, Eric Froton, and Brad Thomas Saturday from 11A-12P Eastern for the NBC Sports YouTube Championship Saturday Q&A as they dive into the weekend’s slate of games, answer your questions, and offer value plays including sides, totals, and props.

 

 

**Betting stats are provided by BetMGM. Must be 21+ years of age or older to wager. Must be present in NY. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, help is available. Call (877-8-HOPENY) or text HOPENY (467369).

How to watch the 2023 All-American Bowl: TV channel, live stream info, start time, rosters, and more

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The 2023 All-American Bowl takes place this Saturday, January 7 inside the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas as 100 of the nation’s top senior football players will go head-to-head in this highly anticipated all-star game.

Live coverage begins at 1:00 PM ET on NBC and Peacock. See below for additional information on how to watch the 2023 All-American Bowl.

RELATED: Finalists Named for 2023 All-American Bowl’s Player of the Year Award

The All-American Bowl made its debut in December 2000 at Highlander Stadium in Dallas, Texas and since then has become one of the most-watched high school sporting events in America. Notable alumni that have participated in the event include NFL Wide Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (2011), Dallas Cowboys Running Back Ezekiel Elliot (2013), Jacksonville Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence (2018), former Broncos QB Tim Tebow (2006), former Cleveland Browns OT Joe Thomas.

RELATED: 2023 All-American Bowl Rosters


How to watch the 2023 All-American Bowl:

RELATED: Finalists Named for 2023 All-American Bowl’s Player of the Year Award


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College Football Playoff Semifinals: Best Bets, Previews, and Predictions for TCU-Michigan and Ohio State-Georgia

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On December 31, Michigan will take on TCU in Phoenix while Ohio State will face reigning national champion Georgia in Atlanta in the College Football Playoff semifinals. The winners will play each other for the national title on January 9 in Los Angeles.

This marks the first season since the CFP’s inception that two Big Ten teams have earned a spot in the same year. It’s Michigan’s second appearance (2021) and Ohio State’s fifth (2014, ’16, ’19, ’20). Ohio State is the only Big Ten team with a CFP national title, which the Buckeyes won the first time the playoff was held after the 2014 season. This is TCU’s first appearance in the playoff and Georgia’s third (2017, ’21).

Below are previews and predictions for both semifinal games. Betting information is provided by BetMGM** and is current as of Dec. 31 at 9:55 a.m. ET. Click on the links provided for each game to see the most up-to-date lines and odds.

The team at NBC Sports EDGE has you covered for the entirety of bowl season, including the CFP semifinals and more, providing their favorite plays on everything from sides and totals to player props. Click here for insights, picks and reactions to all 42 bowl games across this holiday season, and see below for Saturday’s YouTube Q&A from the EDGE team answering all your betting questions. 

No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 TCU (MICH -7.5, o/u 58)

Wolverines and Horned Frogs both seek first championship appearance

Vrbo Fiesta Bowl

Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022 at 4:00pm ET on ESPN

State Farm Stadium (home of NFL’s Cardinals) in Phoenix, AZ

Best Bets: Michigan -7.5, Over 58

NBC Sports EDGE preview

Michigan (13-0) and TCU (12-1) will face off for the first time in college football history in the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl. Michigan is making its second straight appearance in the CFP, and second straight as the No. 2 seed. Last season, Michigan took on Georgia in the semifinals and looked totally out of place as the Bulldogs won 34-11 in a dominant performance en route to their national title a couple weeks later.

This year’s Michigan team may have an easier road in the semifinals, taking on first-time playoff team TCU, whose 12-1 run this season under new head coach Sonny Dykes has been remarkable. TCU will look to be the first Big 12 team to make the national championship game in the playoff’s nine-year history. (Oklahoma is the only other Big 12 school to make the CFP; the Sooners lost in the semifinals all four times they appeared.)

We last saw Michigan and TCU in their conference championship games. Michigan was in a tight game through the first half against Purdue for the Big Ten title, but pulled away from the Boilermakers in the second half to win 43-22. TCU, meanwhile, suffered its first loss of the season in the Big 12 Championship, falling in overtime to Kansas State.

The latest data has TCU slightly worse than Kansas State, and there are understandable questions about TCU’s ability to keep up with Michigan. Dykes doesn’t have those questions. Immediately after the CFP selection announcement on December 4, he told ESPN, “We have a ton of confidence that we can compete.”

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh feels that way too. “I couldn’t be more impressed with them,” he said of the Horned Frogs on December 4. He’s had particular praise for TCU senior quarterback Max Duggan, one of the four Heisman finalists this season. Speaking to ESPN, Harbaugh said Duggan was “unbelievable” in the championship game against Kansas State. “Guy’s a stud.”

Duggan has led TCU to the sixth-best scoring offense in the nation this season, averaging 40.3 points per game. He’s earned a reputation as a fierce competitor, often seeming to will his team to victory during the undefeated regular season.

Max Duggan runs the ball against Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship game. (Tim Heitman / Getty)

“We gotta make sure we play our game,” Duggan said earlier this month of TCU’s approach to the Fiesta Bowl. “Don’t make it bigger than we need to, don’t make the lights brighter than they need to be, just be ourselves and be confident.”

He’s had help this season in the form of junior running back Kendre Miller, whose 17 rush TDs make him the seventh-highest rushing scorer in the country.

But the Horned Frogs haven’t faced a team like Michigan yet, certainly not one with this kind of defensive strength: the Wolverines are third in the nation in total defense (277.1 yards/game), third in the nation in rush defense (85.2 yards/game), and fifth in the nation in scoring defense (13.38 points/game). In games when the Michigan offense has struggled (see Illinois in Week 12), the defense has kept the team in the game.

Michigan’s offense has changed shape a bit in recent weeks, after star running back Blake Corum suffered a knee injury against Illinois and underwent season-ending surgery. Even without Week 13 and the Big Ten Championship to bolster his resume, Corum sits ninth in the nation in rush yards (1,463) and fourth in rush TDs (18).

RELATED: Michigan and Ohio State 60 minutes from a rematch (NBC Sports EDGE)

In Corum’s absence, the Wolverines have leaned on sophomore Donovan Edwards in the run game and given a little more work to sophomore quarterback J.J. McCarthy in the pass game. Edwards has proven a worthy replacement, rushing for two long TDs against Ohio State and earning another 185 yards and a touchdown against Purdue. McCarthy has similarly stepped up, throwing for three TDs in each of the last two games, with four of those in excess of 25 yards. Before Week 13, McCarthy only had one three-TD game this season, in early October at Indiana.

McCarthy’s performance has turned heads as he’s gotten more comfortable running the Michigan offense. “I haven’t seen him get nervous,” Harbaugh said in early December. “Have never seen this kid rattled.”

J.J. McCarthy and Donovan Edwards embrace during a game in September. (Nic Antaya / Getty)

The defensive side of the ball might be the brighter spot for the Wolverines, but the offense holds its own: At 40.1 points per game, Michigan sits seventh in the nation in scoring offense (recall that TCU is sixth with 40.3 points/game). Michigan’s discipline has made an impact, too, as the team averages 33 minutes of possession and just over four penalties per game.

Asked if this year’s playoff is about redemption, Harbaugh answered with a definitive no. “It’s been nothing but a happy mission…not an angry mission.”

Michigan vs. TCU Matchup History

While TCU and Michigan have never faced each other, there is some data about their success against the other’s conference. TCU has a long history of games against Big Ten teams, dating back to 1937. Since 2000, TCU is 7-2 against Big Ten teams, most recently beating Purdue in September 2019.

Michigan has faced Big 12 teams just six times, losing the last three of those in Bowl games in the 2013, 2005, and 2004 seasons. Its last win over a Big 12 team came in 1997 over Baylor.

Prediction: Michigan has been a second-half team all season, so it would be unsurprising for this game to be close at the beginning or even for TCU to take a lead. But if they come prepared, the Wolverines’ talent should ultimately overpower the Horned Frogs in Phoenix. Michigan should cover, and the Over is likely in play if the Wolverines can break things open offensively.

RELATED: NBC Sports EDGE NCAA Bowl Staff Picks & Plays: Dec. 30-Jan. 2

No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 4 Ohio State (UGA -6, o/u 62.5)

Dawgs face tough test as they look for repeat

Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl

Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022 at 8:00pm ET on ESPN

Mercedes-Benz Stadium (home of NFL’s Falcons) in Atlanta, GA

 Best Bets: Georgia -6, Under 62.5

NBC Sports EDGE preview

Georgia (13-0) and Ohio State (11-1) promises to be an excellent matchup between two teams with comparable stats but differing styles on the field. Georgia is the reigning national champion in its third playoff appearance (2017, ’21), while Ohio State makes its fifth playoff appearance (2014, ’16, ’19, ’20). The Buckeyes won their only national title the first time the playoff was held after the 2014 season.

Ohio State is the only team in the 2022 playoff that didn’t play in its conference championship game; the team got in after USC lost the Pac-12 title game to Utah earlier this month. Georgia is coming off a 50-30 win over LSU in the SEC Championship game to complete its undefeated season.

The Buckeyes missed the Big Ten title game after losing to Michigan Week 13. Ohio State had been favored to win at home, but Michigan kept things close throughout the first half, and the floodgates opened in the second as the Wolverines overwhelmed the Buckeyes on both sides of the ball to win 45-23. After USC lost the Pac-12 championship game, Ohio State waited for the selection committee’s decision as the Buckeyes, Trojans and perennial playoff team Alabama were all in the conversation. Ultimately the conventional playoff wisdom that two losses is too many won out, and the Buckeyes were in.

“It’s like a second lease on life,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day told ESPN on selection day. “We’re back in control of our own destiny.”

Both Georgia and Ohio State have 2022 Heisman finalists at the helm, with Stetson Bennett leading the Bulldogs and C.J. Stroud in the pocket for Ohio State.

From left to right: Stetson Bennett (UGA), Max Duggan (TCU), C.J. Stroud (OSU), and Caleb Williams (USC) pose with the Heisman Trophy. Williams won the award. (Sarah Stier / Getty)

Stroud is the most efficient passer in the nation in 2022 and also tops the national list for most pass touchdowns with 37. That strength in the passing game has made Ohio State the second-highest scoring offense in the country with an average 44.5 points per game.

In this semifinal, though, each team has an answer for the other’s strengths: opposite OSU’s offense, Georgia ranks second in scoring defense, allowing just 12.77 points per game on average.

Defense is UGA coach Kirby Smart’s calling card, and the performance by the 2022 Bulldogs is all the more impressive considering eight defensive players went to the NFL after the 2021 season (five of them in the first round). That loss of talent brought up questions about Georgia’s ability to deliver at the same level this year, but they’ve come pretty close. (For reference, after all 15 games last season, the Georgia defense finished at 10.8 points allowed per game.)

Smart was unhappy with his defensive side after the SEC Championship game, when LSU scored 30, the most points the Dawgs allowed all season. “We can’t play the kind of defense we played last night and expect to be any kind of champions,” he told ESPN on December 4. “We’ve got some work to do.”

Two keys to the game for Ohio State will be third-down conversions and red zone production. The Georgia defense is third in the nation on third down, allowing conversion just 26.7% of the time, and first in the nation in the red zone, allowing just nine touchdowns on 28 red zone trips by opponents.

The answer to that one: Ohio State is the third-most productive offense in the red zone this season with 44 touchdowns on 55 trips.

When UGA faced Tennessee (a team with an offensive scheme comparable to OSU’s) in November, the Dawgs held the Vols to just two third-down conversions on 14 attempts. They also prevented Tennessee from relying on the deep balls that were central to their offense, holding QB Hendon Hooker to 5.9 yards per completion.

Ohio State has a similar reliance on deep balls in the pass game; Stroud sits fifth in FBS in yards per completion at 14.21, with his top target Marvin Harrison Jr. tied for fourth in receiving TDs with 12 this season. The Buckeyes should have success in Atlanta if they can beat the UGA secondary; if anyone has the receiving core to do it, they do.

Stroud has noted the formidable nature of the Georgia defense. What do they do well? “Everything,” Stroud said, adding that it all starts with junior defensive lineman Jalen Carter. “I think they call him Superman,” Stroud said in an ESPN interview published Tuesday. “He plays like it.”

Jalen Carter holds LSU QB Jayden Daniels in the air on a sack during the SEC Championship game. (Jeffrey Vest / Getty)

While the Georgia defense has earned consistent national praise, the team’s offense has quietly had a great season too. Bennett is an exceptionally efficient passer in big games in particular; in games against AP top 25 teams this season, his passer rating is 185.2, the best in FBS. Georgia has the most productive red zone offense in the country, only failing to earn points twice on 71 trips.

Ohio State’s total offense is sixth-best and Georgia’s is seventh; the team’s average totals are less than a yard apart. Georgia’s total defense is eighth in the country and Ohio State’s is 12th, about 12 yards apart. Both teams protect their quarterbacks: UGA has allowed just seven sacks this season (T-second in FBS) and OSU has allowed eight (fifth). Both teams won all but one game this season by 10 or more points (OSU lost to Michigan, UGA beat Missouri by four).

All that to say: this should be a really good game. Georgia gets a bit of an advantage with the Peach Bowl near home in Atlanta, in a stadium where the Dawgs have already played twice this season. Ohio State could reap the benefits of extra rest and preparation in the absence of a conference championship game.

“We’ve got a two-game season ahead of us,” Ryan Day said. Well, maybe.

Georgia vs. Ohio State Matchup History

Surprisingly, Georgia and Ohio State have faced each other only once: the 1993 Citrus Bowl in January 1993, almost exactly 30 years ago. Georgia won 21-14, led by running back Garrison Hearst, over an Ohio State side quarterbacked by one Kirk Herbstreit. Herbstreit will call this one for ESPN.

Prediction: Georgia’s game plan is probably similar to its plan against Tennessee, which worked well. Ohio State’s talent on offense should be able to score, but at a slower clip than usual against the Dawgs’ defense. In the end, it feels smarter to bet on the best defense over the best offense, and the game location could help create extra noise for the Georgia defense. It’s close, but the Dawgs take this one by a touchdown with the Under in play.

**Must be 21+ years of age or older to wager. Must be present in NY. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, help is available. Call (877-8-HOPENY) or text HOPENY (467369).