Big Al's Daily Angle: NBA, NCAA Basketball and NCAA Football Preview

by Alec McMordie

The Friday New Year’s Day sports card features four college football bowl games headlined by the College Football Playoff Semifinals. The NBA and college basketball join in the action along with the beginning of Matchweek 17 in the English Premier League.

The college football card kicks off at noon ET with the Peach Bowl between Georgia and Cincinnati. The Bulldogs raised their record to a 7-2 mark on December 12th with their 49-14 win at Missouri as a 14-point favorite. Former USC transfer J.T. Daniels has passed for 839 yards with a 10.4 yards-per-attempt average with nine touchdown passes and just one interception since taking over as the starting quarterback three games ago.

Cincinnati completed their perfect 9-0 regular season by winning the American Athletic Conference Championship Game with their 27-24 win over Tulsa as a 13.5-point favorite on December 19th. The Bearcats felt snubbed by the College Football Playoff Committee, but they did earn the Group of Five designated slot in a New Year’s Six Bowl.

The Peach Bowl takes place at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Georgia is a 7.5-point favorite with the total set at 52 (all odds from BetOnline). The game is on ESPN.

ABC broadcasts the Citrus Bowl at 1 PM ET in a clash between Auburn and Northwestern. The Tigers snapped a two-game losing streak on December 12th with a 24-10 win at Mississippi State as a 5.5-point favorite. Auburn finished their regular season with a 6-4 record.

Northwestern lost in the Big Ten Championship Game on December 19th to Ohio State by a 22-10 score. The Wildcats have lost two of their last three games but enter this bowl game with a 6-2 record. 

Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida, hosts the Citrus Bowl. Northwestern is a 4-point favorite with an over/under of 43.5.

The first College Football Playoff Semifinal is with Rose Bowl between Notre Dame and Alabama. The Fighting Irish lost their first game of the season on December 19th when they lost to Clemson in the ACC Championship Game by a 34-10 score as an 11.5-point underdog. Notre Dame was still voted as the fourth team in the playoff rankings given their previous 47-40 victory over the Clemson Tigers. 

Alabama is 11-0 this season after they defeated Florida in the SEC Championship Game by a 52-46 score on December 19th as a 16.5-point favorite. Led by quarterback Mac Jones’ 418 passing yards with five touchdown passes, the Crimson Tide gained 605 yards against the Gators. 

Initially designated for its traditional location in Pasadena, California, the Rose Bowl was moved to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, given California attendance restrictions with their COVID guidelines. Alabama is a 19.5-point favorite with a total of 65.5. The ESPN broadcast starts at 4 PM ET. 

The second College Football Semifinals contest is a rematch from last season. Clemson rallied from a 16-0 first-half deficit to defeat Ohio State by a 29-23 score in the Fiesta Bowl on December 28th as a 2.5-point favorite with a total of 62. The Tigers would then lose in the National Championship Game to LSU by a 42-25 score.

Clemson won their first seven games before a showdown with Notre Dame in South Bend on November 7th. Playing without junior quarterback Trevor Lawrence who was out after testing positive for COVID, the Tigers played with true freshman D.J. Uigalelei at quarterback to lose in double-overtime, 47-40. Clemson rebounded to crush Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech by a combined 97-27 score before getting their opportunity for revenge against the Fighting Irish in the ACC Championship Game which they won by a 34-10 score on December 19th as an 11.5-point favorite.

Ohio State thought they would not have the opportunity to reach the playoffs again this season when the Big Ten canceled their season because of COVID. When the conference reversed that decision, the Buckeyes won their first three games of the season before COVID caused the cancelation of their game with Maryland on November 4th. Ohio State will later see games with Illinois and Michigan canceled because of COVID issues with those opponents before they experienced their own outbreak before the Big Ten Championship Game against Northwestern on December 19th. The Buckeyes were without 22 players in that game, including top wide receiver Chris Glave and linebacker Baron Browning. 

After trailing by a 10-6 halftime score, Ohio State rallied in the second half to defeat the Wildcats by a 22-10 score to place them in the College Football Playoffs. Running back Trey Sermon stepped up to rush for 331 yards to lead the Buckeyes to victory. His effort helped overcome an underwhelming perforce for junior quarterback Justin Fields who completed only 12 of 27 passes for 114 yards with two interceptions. Fields was without some of his favorite targets because of COVID, and there are reports that he suffered a thumb injury that may carry over into this game. 

Clemson is a 7.5-point favorite with the total set at 68. The game is at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Kickoff is at 8 PM ET on ESPN.

The NBA starts the new year with ten games on Friday beginning at 7 PM ET. None of these games are on national television. 

The college basketball card tips off at 1 PM ET. None of the games on the college basketball schedule are nationally-televised. 

Matchweek 17 in the English Premier League begins at 12:30 PM ET, with Everton hosting West Ham United as a -0.25 goal line favorite with an over/under of 2.5. At 3 PM ET, Manchester United plays at home at Old Trafford against Aston Villa as a -0.75 goal line favorite with a total of 3. Both games are on the NBC Sports Network.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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