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How to watch: Michigan vs Alabama, other top games of the New Year’s Six action

Michigan is fighting for a national title — here’s how you can watch it.

Pasadena Prepares For The Rose Bowl Photo by David McNew/Getty Images
Daniel Plocher Dan Plocher contributes to Maize n’ Brew in several areas including podcasts, game previews/recaps, and various YouTube videos.

It is finally game week as the Michigan Wolverines prepare for a College Football Playoff contest with the Alabama Crimson Tide.

It was a strong 2-1 week last week, moving the Best Bets to 25-22-2 in the final week of a full slate in college football. Let’s finish out the season strong with hopes the Wolverines get a shot at a national title. Here are this week’s odds courtesy of DraftKings SportsBook.

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.

No. 1 Michigan Wolverines vs. No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide

  • Time: 5 p.m.
  • Date: Monday, Jan. 1
  • TV: ESPN
  • Location: Pasadena, CA
  • Weather: 63 degrees, partly cloudy
  • DraftKings Odds: MICH -1.5, O/U: 44.5, ML: MICH -122, ALA +102
  • Best Bet (25-22-2): MICH - 1.5

Michigan is the No. 1 team in the country, but will be tested mightily against Alabama. Many saw the Tide’s loss to Texas as the proverbial end of their season. However, they beat ranked Ole Miss, Texas A&M and LSU teams on their way to an SEC championship.

The Crimson Tide had their ups and downs throughout the season, beating Georgia in the SEC Championship was a surprise to many with the three years of dominance we had from the Bulldogs up to that point. But their playoff hopes would have ended the week prior if it were not for a last-second Hail Mary attempt to beat Auburn in the Iron Bowl.

Which Alabama team will Michigan see? That’s what could turn this game from a blowout by the Wolverines to a contest that could turn the other way. The Tide seem to play to their competition, which means they are likely to give Michigan their best shot. Michigan’s offensive line is going to be challenged by an elite pass rush, and the last time that happened, Michigan didn’t throw a pass for the whole second half against Penn State. They’ll need to keep McCarthy upright with the opportunity to find open receivers down the field. Those big plays through the air is exactly why Texas toppled the Crimson Tide earlier this season.

It should be a thrilling contest, and it might be a bit of homer-ism, but I like Michigan to win this game because of the defense and its consistency we have seen throughout the season. Vegas seems to know something, too, because a bunch of money and tickets are on the Alabama side, but the line is still in favor of the Wolverines. I’ll take them -1.5 at -110 for the better odds.

No. 2 Washington Huskies vs. No. 3 Texas Longhorns

  • Time: 7:45 p.m.
  • Date: Monday, Jan. 1
  • TV: ESPN
  • Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Weather: DOME - Caesars Superdome
  • DraftKings Odds: TEX -4, O/U: 63.5, ML: TEX -180, UW +150
  • Best Bet (25-22-2): UW +4

Washington continues to defy expectations after handily beating Oregon in the final Pac-12 Championship to keep its undefeated season alive and make it to the College Football Playoffs. The Huskies were 9.5-point dogs leading into that one, but won outright in a game where running back Dillon Johnson ran for 152 yards and two touchdowns. His emergence made the Huskies a completely different team down the stretch.

The Huskies and quarterback Michael Penix Jr. started the season with a run of dominating wins, making them look like one of the best teams in the country. But something changed for both after beating Oregon the first time in an emotional three-point win at home. They followed that up with a 15-7 win over Arizona State, the worst team in their conference, and narrow wins down the stretch over USC, Utah, Oregon State and Washington State. Each of their last four games were decided by one score or less.

Meanwhile, the Longhorns overcame the Red River Rivalry loss to Oklahoma and finished the season with a commanding 49-21 win over Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Championship. They overcame an injury to starting quarterback Quinn Ewers and running back Johnathan Brooks to get to this point. Although Brooks is out for the season, Ewers has returned and looks as good as ever and prepped to take the Longhorns to a national title appearance.

ESPN’s matchup predictor gives the Longhorns a 69.2 percent chance of winning, and their top-10 defense has to be a large reason why. Washington has not faced a defense like them all season — they are huge on the defensive line and essentially no one has been able to run the football on them this year.

The reason I’m leaning towards UW +4, though, is because what pass-attack offenses have done to the Longhorns this season. Kansas State took Texas to overtime when Will Howard threw for 327 yards and four touchdowns, Dillon Gabriel threw for 285 yards and ran for another 113 for two total touchdowns, and Houston quarterback Donovan Smith threw for 378 yards and three touchdowns in a near upset.

This game will come down to Penix Jr. looking like the Heisman favorite he once was. If he can carve through the Texas secondary, connecting with his favorite receivers, I could see Washington winning this game outright. Give me the Huskies +4.

No. 5 Florida State Seminoles vs. No. 6 Georgia Bulldogs

  • Time: 4 p.m.
  • Date: Saturday, Dec. 30
  • TV: ESPN
  • Location: Miami, Florida
  • Weather: 70 degrees, partly cloudy
  • DraftKings Odds: UGA -18.5, O/U: 44.5, ML: UGA -1200, FSU +750
  • Best Bet (25-22-2): UGA -18.5

It’s a game between two teams that expected to be in the College Football Playoffs before championship weekend. Florida State was screwed out of a by the committee and will now be playing against Georgia without several key players.

Obviously the Jordan Travis injury sticks out and speaks for itself, but Florida State should be without at least 20 players that made this team who it was in 2023. Its three leading receivers — Keon Coleman, Johnny Wilson and tight end Jaheim Bell — all opted out. Star running back Trey Benson will also not be on the field, along with some of their best defenders like edge rusher Jared Verse, lineman Fabien Lovett and corner Akeem Dent. Even backup quarterback Tate Rodemaker entered the transfer portal and is not expected to play despite starting for the Seminoles earlier this season.

Mike Norvell is basically going to be coaching a different team. Meanwhile, Kirby Smart told reporters earlier this week he expects his healthy players to be in action. This includes Ladd McConkey, who is one of the most consistent offensive weapons on this team. Quarterback Carson Beck is expected to be in action as well. It feels like this team is more committed to finishing the job, even without a national title on the line.

With so many players missing for Florida State, and the guys expected to suit up for Georgia, I just don’t see a way this game is not completely lopsided. The Bulldogs are still one of the best teams in college football, and I expect them to flex their muscles and roll over a Florida State team that has already been kicked to the dirt. Give me the Bulldogs by at least three touchdowns.