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Gridiron Players Club (1/1/24)

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CFB (5 Picks...) May have a prop in the TX/WSH Game. Not all props posted yet.

5:00PM EST: Michigan -1.5 (5 Units), ALA/MI Over 45.5 (3 Units), JJ McCarthy Over 14.5 Rushing Yards (3 Units).

This is a heavyweight bout, but Michigan holds a huge experience advantage. Coming into the season the Wolverines brought back 81% of their production. Michigan lost to TCU in the CFB playoff last year and it was arguably their worst performance of the season, but still lost by just 6 points. They also played that game without star RB Blake Corum. The best lessons are the hardest lessons, and that experience should go a long way. Alabama on the other hand returned just 40% of their 2022 production, which ranked 125th of 133 FBS programs. They also missed the playoffs last year, which is a rare occurrence. A lot of young guys are being thrust into the spotlight here who have never been there before. That alone cost Michigan against TCU a season ago.

Michigan should hold the edge in the trenches and that's where it matters most. Alabama's got a solid run defense and good sack numbers, but their pass rush has been mitigated by strong offensive teams. Dallas Turner will make his impact felt but they didn't record a single sack against Texas despite Ewers throwing it 38 times. They recorded just 1 sack against LSU on 34 pass attempts, and they got to Georgia's Carson Beck just twice. Michigan's offensive line is as good as any in the Country.

The Tide have an elite cover corner duo, but Michigan has a pair of NFL WR's themselves. If the pass rush can't get Home it doesn't really matter who's in coverage anyway. The Wolverines want to run the football and their passing game gets knocked at times, but McCarthy's delivered through the air when needed. He's completing over 74% of his passes and keeping the chains moving. He's also a better athlete than he's given credit for. Michigan rarely asks him to run since they just dominate teams but they will today. McCarthy had also been dealing with an ankle injury that he sustained against Penn State but he's 100% now. He did have 10 carries for over 50 yards in their CFB playoff game against TCU last year.

Michigan's offense has played some very good defenses, and they continue to move the ball and score. They put up 24 on Penn State, 30 on Ohio State, and 26 on Iowa. You can question Big 10 offense if you want but those defenses are legit, especially Ohio States. The Buckeyes may have had the best defense in CFB this season and Michigan plowed right ahead with a hobbled McCarthy and all. If not for an untimely McCord interception it may have been OSU here today.

That Ohio State defense just embarrassed a Missouri offense that tore up the SEC all season. OSU was down their starting QB but then their backup got injured just 6 passes in. They turned to a True Freshman who wasn't ready, and Ohio State basically played the entire game without a QB or passing game. Missouri's offense managed just 14 points and all of them came in the 4th quarter. They couldn't throw the ball at all and gave up 6 sacks.

We question the SEC as a whole this year. Georgia was the top dog before losing to Alabama, but Georgia lost such an absurd amount of talent the last couple years it's just impossible to replace that. Outside of that you're looking at ALA, Mizzu, and LSU as the top squads. Mizzu may have won their Superbowl but that was as pitiful a showing as any against an OSU team with nothing to play for. LSU couldn't play a lick of defense all year and this Alabama team doesn't have the same dominance as Saban's past, evident by their ass whooping at Home to Texas. That was early on but still, that never happens.

As much respect as the Tide defense is getting, they haven't held an FBS opponent below 20 points in 6 straight contests. They haven't allowed more than 28 either but they aren't shutting anyone down. They deserved to lose to Auburn the week before the SEC championship game, a team that nearly upset Georgia as well. Georgia was also in a dog fight with Georgia Tech that same week. QB Jalen Milroe is not an elite Passer. He's going to make some plays with his legs today and he throws a nice deep ball but he's not dissecting a defense in real time in the pocket.

Alabama's offensive line started playing better as the year's progressed, but Jalen Milroe has been sacked a lot. They rank 123rd out of 135 FBS teams in sacks allowed per game. Georgia also got to him 4 times in the SEC championship game and that's far from an elite Georgia Pass rush this year. Michigan has a very good defensive line and they've been impossible to run on. They haven't had to deal with a dual threat QB like Milroe however and TCU QB Max Duggan found some success running against the Wolverines in last year’s playoff as well. He's going to make some plays with his legs and Alabama's got explosive talent.

Milroe's dual-threat ability is going to open this Michigan defense a bit which should help them score some points on this defense. Nobody has been able to stop the Wolverines offense thus far and this is not the best front 7 Saban's had to work with. McCarthy's also going to get some timely carries to help keep this offense grooving and Alabama's defense honest. No more holding back for his health, it's win or go home territory.

How does the young Alabama team handle the moment too? Jalen Milroe causes some Chaos but that gets him into trouble sometimes. Michigan makes you pay for mistakes, averaging 1.8 takeaways per game, 9th most in the Nation. Harbaughs got a couple playoff games under his belt now too. Should come into this one better than the last. The Wolverines did settle in and played a great 2nd half against TCU after the shellshock wore off last year.

8:45PM EST: Texas -3.5 (5 Units), TX/WSH Under 63.5 (4 Units).

Texas should have the better line play in this one as well. Washington's defensive line isn't striking fear into anyone. They have a couple solid edge rushers but even they may be a bit overrated. In their 5 games against legitimate PAC-12 Teams (OR x 2, Utah, Oregon State, and USC) they have just 5 sacks as a team. 3 of those came against a USC offensive line that's struggled all season.

The Longhorns may have 3 receiving targets drafted in the 1st round of the upcoming draft. TE Ja'Tavion Sanders, WR's Adonai Mitchell and Xavier Worthy. Mitchell and Worthy are explosive as any and are HR threats whenever they touch the ball. Oklahoma State stacked the box and dared Texas to throw in the Big 12 Title Game and Ewers proceeded to throw for 452 yards and 4 touchdowns. Washington is faced with a similar dilemma. Oregon put up over 541 yards of total offense against them in the PAC-12 title game. Texas has more NFL talent at its disposal and a better QB.

Washington doesn't have the secondary to matchup with Texas and they're going to have to play coverage. That means a lighter box and that Texas Offensive Line can bully the best of them. Oregon ran for over 200 yards and over 5 yards per carry against Washington. Texas did lose starting RB Jonathon Brooks, but the Baxter/Blue combo has worked just fine. Everyone thought they were screwed when they lost Bijan, and again with Brooks. This is an elite rushing offense with a stable of running backs. They're just one of those teams. Fully expect the Longhorns to grind Washington down here.

Ball control is going to be a huge factor and we trust Sark to hold onto it. The Longhorns defensive line is arguably the best in the country but specifically in the interior. The Sweat/Murphy duo is just too much beef to handle. The Huskies are going to struggle to run the football and they don't do too much of it, but it's been an effective tool for them this season. Texas has a very good chance to make them one dimensional today and if that happens, they're going to have some short possessions. Time of Possession is going to favor Texas and that's part of the reason we like this to stay Under.

Texas also has a good pass rush, and they'll need it today. Washington has the WR's to make you pay and if there's any weakness for Texas it's their secondary. Their interior pass rush is strong and that should limit Penix's ability to step up and take shots downfield. Penix is also a smaller guy with an injury history. The Washington offensive line has done a good job keeping guys off him, but this is a step up in line play. Texas is going to put some hits on Penix, something he hasn't had to deal with much. He's had his fair share of struggles against mediocre opponents this season as is, but it's all too familiar to see a high-flying Pac-12 offense get shut down as soon as they're punched in the mouth by a more physical team.

Then there's the coaching aspect. It's not a usual thing to get a month off and must prepare your team for these games. Texas HC Steve Sarkisian was able to learn from the best, Nick Saban. Sark's a two-time National Champion as an offensive play-caller under Saban and knows how to get a team ready for the Playoffs. He's also shown he can dissect and take down the best defenses in College Football if he has the talent to do so. Washington is far from an elite defense though.


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