New Year's Day brings us the College Football Playoff semifinals, the two biggest games to date in a chaotic season.
Michigan and Alabama meet in the Rose Bowl, the first of two CFP games on Monday. The Crimson Tide knocked off two-time defending champion Georgia to return to the final four behind the explosive playmaking of Jalen Milroe while Michigan will look to breakthrough in its third straight semifinals. Can J.J. McCarthy outplay a vaunted Alabama defense in order to get the Wolverines to the title game?
We have plenty of coverage on bowl season as well as a deep dive into the Rose Bowl, which can be found here, but this is going to cover player props for the likes of Milroe and McCarthy, and an underrated Michigan pass catcher.
Best Prop Bets for Alabama vs. Michigan
- Jalen Milroe UNDER 242.5 Passing + Rushing Yards
- J.J. McCarthy OVER 15.5 Rushing Yards
- Colston Loveland OVER 34.5 Receiving Yards
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Jalen Milroe UNDER 242.5 Passing + Rushing Yards
Milroe has been a filthy down field passer this season, completing 53% of his passes 20 or more yards down the field, but he has been prone to taking some critical sacks. The Crimson Tide have allowed 39 sacks this season (113th in the country) and will face a Michigan pass rush that is top five in Pro Football Focus' grading. Further, the team allows nothing through the air, top 10 in both yards per pass attempt allowed and completion percentage.
Michigan plays at a methodical tempo, and Alabama isn't a fast-paced offense either, so I expect limited possessions and for each defense to dictate the terms of engagement for the most part.
I've opted to take the combined number on Milroe's in case the Michigan pass rush gets home to limit Milroe's rushing yards but also make him work underneath and limit the big plays, keeping him below this number.
J.J. McCarthy OVER 15.5 Rushing Yards
McCarthy is an adept runner, but was battling an ankle injury down the stretch of the regular season. With about a month off, he should be more than fine for this matchup against Alabama, who bolsters one of the best secondary groups in the country.
While Michigan is a rush first offense, I'm not sure if that will work to the success the top five most rush-heavy team in the country would prefer, Alabama is allowing less than four yards per carry and is sixth in PFF's rush defense grading. I believe that is going to lead to more QB designed runs for McCarthy, who cleared this in six of 13 games this season.
Further, if the Crimson Tide are able to limit the Michigan passing attack, that will lead to McCarthy taking off and using his legs to get positive yards. The Wolverines offensive line only allowed 14 sacks in the regular season (14th in the country) so I trust McCarthy to avoid negative plays and get over this low total.
Colston Loveland OVER 34.5 Receiving Yards
Michigan doesn't throw often, but when it does it's incredibly effective, top five in EPA/Pass. The Wolverines passing game is top 10 in yards per pass attempt and completion percentage.
I respect the Crimson Tide passing game quite a bit, but I believe that the Michigan offense will be able to find at least baseline level success through the air, which is why I'm targeting the tight end Loveland in the player prop market.
Loveland has emerged as a key cog in the Michigan offense, hauling in 40 catches on 56 targets and a monster after catch, averaging nearly five yards after the catch. I don't trust Michigan to hit deep shots, but rather focus on methodically working down the field, which should lead to a handful of Loveland targets.
This number remains at his season average, but in the CFP, I expect the Michigan offense to feature its most reliable weapons.
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.