College Football Playoff 2019 Preview: Matchups, Betting Odds, and More

Left to right: Joe Burrow of LSU, Jalen Hurts of Oklahoma, Justin Fields of Ohio State, and Trevor Lawrence of Clemson will try and lead their teams to a college football national championship (photo credit: USA TODAY Sports)

Welcome to SharpSide’s College Football Playoffs Preview, where we take a look at the rankings, matchup details, betting odds, point spreads, and more for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and PlayStation Fiesta Bowl.

On Sunday, December 8, 2019, the college football bowl schedule was set. The announcement was highlighted by the determination of the teams and rankings for the College Football Playoff. The four teams to make it were LSU, Ohio State, Clemson, and Oklahoma. They’ll be paired off by seeding for two College Football Playoff Semifinal games on Saturday, December 28, to determine the two teams that will square off in the National Championship.

Seedings and Matchups

LSU was awarded the No. 1 seed, and they’ll take on No. 4 Oklahoma in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Saturday, December 28. The game takes place at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, at 4 p.m. ET.

Ohio State and Clemson were the other two schools to reach the College Football Playoff, and they’ll face off in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. Also scheduled for Saturday, December 28, this game takes place at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, at 8 p.m. ET. Ohio State is the No. 2 seed and Clemson is the No. 3 seed.

The two winners will meet in the College Football Playoff National Championship in New Orleans on Monday, January 13, 2020. The National Championship is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET and takes place at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Betting Odds and Point Spreads

For the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl between No. 1 LSU and No. 4 Oklahoma, DraftKings Sportsbook opened the game with LSU as a 10-point favorite. In Las Vegas, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook opened LSU as a 9.5-point favorite.

LSU-Oklahoma Point Spread (DraftKings Sportsbook)

Open12/26 at 11 a.m. PT
No. 4 Oklahoma+10+13.5
No. 1 LSU-10-13.5

On the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, LSU was a -400 favorite and Oklahoma was a +300 underdog as of Sunday, December 8, at 10 p.m. PT. Those odds had shifted to LSU being a -480 favorite and Oklahoma being a +350 underdog as of Thursday, December 26, at 11 a.m. PT.

The point spread for the LSU-Clemson game had also moved since our last update. On December 8, LSU was favored by 12.5 points. The spread has shifted by 1 point to make LSU a 13.5-point favorite as of Thursday, December 26, at 11 a.m. PT.

For the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl between No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Clemson, DraftKings Sportsbook opened Ohio State as a 1-point favorite. In Las Vegas, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook also opened Ohio State as a 1-point favorite.

Ohio State-Clemson Point Spread (DraftKings Sportsbook)

Open12/26 at 11 a.m. PT
No. 3 Clemson+1-2
No. 2 Ohio State-1+2

On the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, Ohio State was a +102 underdog and Clemson was a -124 favorite as of Sunday, December 8, at 10 p.m. PT. Those odds have also shifted. When we checked in on Tuesday, December 24, at 11 a.m. PT, Clemson was a -132 favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook and Ohio State was a +108 underdog. As of Thursday, December 26, at 11 a.m. PT, Clemson was a -129 favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook and Ohio State was a +106 underdog.

After the point spread opened with Ohio State being a 1-point favorite, things quickly shifted to having Clemson as a 2-point favorite. The spread even went to 2.5, but as of Thursday, December 26, at 11 a.m. PT, it’s back to having Clemson as a 2-point favorite.

Odds To Win the CFB National Championship (DraftKings Sportsbook)

Odds as of 12/26 at 11 a.m. PT
No. 1 LSU+135
No. 2 Ohio State+250
No. 3 Clemson+200
No. 4 Oklahoma+1400

*Betting odds and point spreads subject to change. Those listed here are for editorial purposes. Please refer to sportsbook for current odds, spreads, and prices.

How To Watch College Football Playoff Games

Both the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl between LSU and Oklahoma and the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl between Ohio State and Clemson will air on ESPN on Saturday, December 28. LSU and Oklahoma start at 4 p.m. ET, and Ohio State and Clemson start at 8 p.m. ET.

The College Football Playoff National Championship will also air on ESPN, taking place on Monday, January 13, at 4 p.m. ET.

LSU vs. Oklahoma Betting Preview

The first game of the College Football Playoff features No. 1 LSU against No. 4 Oklahoma. The LSU Tigers are healthy favorites over the Oklahoma Sooners, which is reflect in both the point spread and moneyline. As you read above, LSU is -13.5 on the spread and -480 on the moneyline, as of Thursday, December 26. That doesn’t mean Oklahoma can’t win, though. It just means oddsmakers view the Sooners as a super longshot to come out with a victory.

This game gives us a great matchup between the two quarterbacks and a great matchup between the two head coaches. Although the odds don’t anticipate this one being close, it could very well be much closer than expected due to what Oklahoma brings to the table at quarterback and head coach. We all know how good Joe Burrow has been for LSU, and he rightfully won the Heisman Trophy easily. Ed Orgeron has been a very good head coach for the Tigers, too. So good that he was awarded Coach of the Year honors. That said, let’s not forget how good Jalen Hurts has been quarterbacking the Sooners and the ability of Lincoln Riley as a head coach. It’s the tandem of Hurts and Riley that will likely be the key to Oklahoma keeping this one closer than people expect, but don’t sleep on these very talented Sooners.

Both of these offenses get a lot of love, and rightfully so. LSU averages 554.3 yards and and 47.8 points per game. Oklahoma averages 554.2 yards and 43.2 points per game. Those are some pretty gaudy numbers, but their defenses have been playing their parts, too. LSU’s defense gives up 341.3 yards and holds teams to 21.2 points per game. Oklahoma’s defense gives up 330.6 yards and allows 24.5 points per game. If you’ve watched these two teams play at all this season, you’ve probably noticed that both defenses are doing much better than they have in past seasons. While the offensive numbers get a ton of love, we’re leaning towards this being a more lower scoring of a game than people expect. With an over/under total of 75 or 76 points depending on what sportsbook you look at, these teams could still combine for 60 points and still be well under the total.

If LSU wants to win this game, they’re going to need to continue to be the powerhouse they have been all season long. Burrow is going to need to operate a mistake-free game so he’s not giving Oklahoma added opportunities and taking away from his team’s ability to score. If this is the game LSU looks more like a very good but not great team, it could open the door for Oklahoma to get the win.

LSU’s defense is going to be the side with the most pressure. We know Oklahoma’s offense is the better of their two units and we know Riley is a great offensive coach with two stud in Hurts and wide receiver CeeDee Lamb. If the Sooners get rolling on offense and LSU can’t stop them, anything can happen, including an Oklahoma victory. Oklahoma isn’t expected to win this game. Heck, they’re not even expected to be in it with a near two-touchdown point spread. But that can allow the Sooners to hold nothing back and a team can be at its scariest when it has nothing to lose.

For more on this game from a betting perspective, check out Jourdan Case’s betting picks article.

Ohio State vs. Clemson Betting Preview

The second game of the College Football Playoff features No. 2 Ohio State against No. 3 Clemson, and oddsmakers have this one as a much tighter matchup with a point spread that has been bouncing around less than a field goal.

Ohio St. comes into this game averaging 531.0 yards and 48.7 points per game on offense. Clemson is averaging 547.7 yards and 46.5 points per game on offense. Both of these defenses have also been performing very well this season. Clemson is giving up just 244.7 yards and 10.6 points for game, which are both best in the nation. Ohio State isn’t too far behind, allowing 247.6 yards and 12.5 points per game. The knock on Clemson has been their strength of schedule and many point to it when discussing how good the defensive numbers are for the Tigers.

Just like the game between LSU and Oklahoma, the matchup between the Buckeyes and Tigers gives us two great matchups at the quarterback and coach positions. For Ohio State, it’s Justin Fields at QB and Ryan Day as head coach. For Clemson, it’s Trevor Lawrence at QB and Dabo Swinney as head coach. Both tandems have been some of the best in the country all season long, but the nod here will probably have to be given to Lawrence and Swinney, mostly due to their experience. Both were in place for Clemson when they won the National Title last season, doing so in dominant fashion.

If Ohio State wants to win this game, Fields is going to need to continue the incredible protection of the football that he has showcased all season long. He’ll also need to be that dual-threat option we all know he’s capable of being. Not only will Fields both passing and throwing be tough to handle for the Clemson defense, but his dual-threat nature will only open things up for running back JK Dobbins to have a big, pounding day running the football. Then, Ohio State’s defense is going to need to be up to the task of getting to Lawrence. Clemson’s offensive line is very good, and so is Lawrence, but it’s hard to operate as a quarterback if you’re under pressure. Chase Young is a tremendous talent on the defensive line for the Buckeyes, but he’s going to need to be the game changer he’s shown he can be.

Furthermore, Day can’y buckle under the pressure of this game against the defending national champions and against a coach as good as Swinney.

For Clemson, protecting Lawrence will be paramount. If the offensive line can keep Lawrence out of trouble and give him time to throw, this Clemson offense can do a ton of damage. This starts with containing Young. On defense, Clemson needs to stay solid. Ohio State has a lot of weapons but everything they do centers around Fields and Dobbins. Those are only two players, but they’re extremely good players and one of them, Fields, can do wonders with both his arm and his legs. We know Clemson hasn’t had the toughest schedule when it comes to opposing offenses, so the Buckeyes are going to be the biggest test this defense has had.

For more on this game from a betting perspective, check out Jourdan Case’s betting picks article.

How They Got There: LSU Tigers

The LSU Tigers have been one of the absolute best teams all season long. Their record stands at a perfect 13-0, with quarterback Joe Burrow as the frontrunner to win the Heisman Trophy.

LSU plays in the SEC Conference and went 8-0 in conference play, finishing atop the West Division of the conference and meeting Georgia in the SEC Championship. At the time, Georgia was ranked No. 4 in the country and LSU was ranked No. 2. LSU crushed Georgia by a score of 37-10, and the dominant performance helped them land the No. 1 ranking heading into the College Football Playoff.

What is considered LSU’s biggest win of the season came when they beat No. 3 Alabama on the road 46-41. At the time, LSU was ranked No. 2 in the country. Burrow had an outstanding performance, throwing for 393 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also added 64 rushing yards.

On the season, Burrow has a completion percentage of 77.9%, throwing for 4,715 yards, 48 touchdowns, and just 6 interceptions. He also has 289 yards and 3 touchdowns rushing.

Other big wins for LSU include beating No. 9 Texas 45-38 in September, topping No. 7 Florida 42-28 in October, and No. 9 Auburn 23-20 also in October.

How They Got There: Ohio State Buckeyes

The Ohio State Buckeyes also finished the season at 13-0, and they also won their conference. The Buckeyes play in the Big Ten Conference and topped the East Division before facing No. 8 Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship. Ohio State won 34-21, but the victory didn’t come without adversity, as the Buckeyes were down 21-7 at halftime. They smashed the Badgers for 27 points in the second half and went on to what was a convincing victory in the end.

Ohio State finished conference play at 9-0, but it was likely the way they performed in the Big Ten Championship that gave LSU the nod over the Buckeyes when the final rankings were announced on Sunday. Ohio State was ranked No. 1 entering the game against Wisconsin.

Signature wins for Ohio State include beating No. 25 Michigan St. 34-10 in October, winning a previous matchup against No. 13 Wisconsin 38-7 also in October, and the beating No. 8 Penn State 28-17 and No. 13 Michigan 56-27 in November.

Justin Fields is the standout quarterback for the Buckeyes, and J.K. Dobbins is the team’s stud running back. Fields didn’t have the yardage total of completion percentage that Burrow did, but he did throw for 2,953 yards and complete 67.5% of his passes. Notably, he tossed 40 touchdowns and only 1 interceptions. Fields added 471 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing. Dobbins ran for 1,829 yards and 20 touchdowns, plus he had 200 yards and 2 touchdowns receiving.

How They Got There: Clemson Tigers

The No. 3 seed belongs to the Clemson Tigers, who also sit at 13-0 entering the College Football Playoff. They won the ACC, going 8-0 in conference play, topping the Atlantic Division, and destroying No. 23 Virginia in the AAC Championship by a lopsided score of 62-17.

Clemson has been putting up big numbers on team’s all season long, but it’s their strength of schedule that some have knocked. Although they did have an FCS team on their schedule – Wofford who they crushed 59-14 – the Tigers have made easy work of just about everyone they have faced. Despite a 21-20 win over North Carolina from the end of September, Clemson has averaged more than 46 points per game and allowed less than 11 points per game.

Other than the ACC Championship win against No. 23 Virginia, Clemson only victory over an FBS-ranked team was at the beginning of September when they beat No. 12 Texas A&M 24-10.

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is the biggest name on this team. On the season, Lawrence has thrown for 3,172 yards, 34 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions. His completion percentage is 68.8%, and he’s added 407 yards and 7 touchdowns on the ground.

How They Got There: Oklahoma Sooners

The final team to get into the College Football Playoff is the No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners, winners of the Big 12 Conference. Oklahoma has a record of 12-1 overall and 8-1 in conference play, with the one loss coming at the end of October when the Sooners went down 48-41 to Kansas State.

There was plenty of debate on what school should get the No. 4 seed, but many believe the committee ultimately got it right by selecting Oklahoma. Others in the conversation included Georgia, Oregon, and even Alabama, but all three of those teams had two losses each. Baylor would’ve had a big case had they beaten Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship, but the Sooners took them down 30-23 in overtime. It was the second time Oklahoma beat Baylor this season, with Baylor holding rankings of No. 7 and No. 13 when the Sooners defeated them.

Other notable wins for Oklahoma include an October victory over No. 11 Texas by a score of 34-27 and a November triumph over No. 21 Oklahoma State 34-16.

Oklahoma’s best shot at having one of its players win the Heisman Trophy would with quarterback Jalen Hurts. The senior had a completion percentage of 71.8%, throwing for 3,634 yards, 32 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. Hurts is also very equipped to get things done with his legs, as he has 1,255 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground to make him the team’s leading rusher. It helps when Hurts has CeeDee Lamb to throw to. Lamb is one of the top wide receiver sin the country, hauling in 58 receptions for 1,208 yards and 14 touchdowns.

History of the College Football Playoff

The College Football Playoff started in 2014 at the end of the regular season. That season, it was No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Florida State, and No. 4 Ohio State as the final four teams vying for the National Championship. Ohio State beat Alabama, Oregon beat Florida State, and then Ohio State defeated Oregon to win it all.

In 2015, it was No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Michigan State, and No. 4 Oklahoma. Clemson beat Oklahoma and Alabama beat Michigan State to set up a battle of the top two seeds. Alabama won the championship game.

In 2016, the final four teams were No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Ohio State, and No. 4 Washington. Alabama and Clemson both won, setting up a rematch from the year before, but this time it was Clemson coming out on top to win the title.

In 2017, No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 3 Georgia, and No. 4 Alabama reached the College Football Playoff. The top two seeds – Clemson and Oklahoma – both lost, setting up Georgia against Alabama in the championship game. Alabama won an overtime thriller.

In 2018, No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Notre Dame, and No. 4 Oklahoma were the final four programs. For a third time in the history of the College Football Playoff, it was a No. 1-versus-No. 2 battle involving Alabama and Clemson. Clemson took this one in a dominating 44-16 victory.

Alabama not being named as one of the final four teams is the first time the Crimson Tide have missed out in the history of the College Football Playoff after having appeared in the first five installments. With Clemson’s appearance in 2019, the Tigers have tied the Crimson Tide with the most appearances in the College Football Playoff at five.

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