Crimson rises to the top in Sugar Bowl and an upset brewing in Peach Bowl: Best Bets for Dec. 31

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Alabama long snapper Kneeland Hibbett (48) celebrates with teammates after he recovered a fumbled punt against Auburn during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Each day, one of our experts will offer up a best bet (or two or three) that mobile sportsbooks are offering. It might be a traditional spread bet, a player prop or one of the various odds boosts that books offer.

Here are our best bets for Saturday, Dec. 31:

TOP PLAY

The play: Sugar Bowl, Alabama -7 over Kansas State

The odds/bet: -110 ($33 to win $30)

The book: Caesars Sportsbook

Time/TV: Noon (ESPN)

Our take: I’ve admittedly gone back and forth on this pick all week, but sometimes, when you make up your mind in a situation like that, you become totally convinced. That’s the case here, to the point where I’m even willing to lay the extra half-point with Alabama at -7.

Simply put, this line has been deflated. If this were a regular season game at a neutral site, the Crimson Tide would be favored by double digits, even after a terrific season for Kansas State. Conventional wisdom says Alabama won’t be motivated, but that seems to be just talk. The Tide has had fewer opt-outs than most teams for this game, and quarterback Bryce Young, a likely top-two pick in the NFL draft next spring, said he was looking forward to one more game in college. And if Young is on board, how can his teammates not be?

Besides, while Nick Saban’s Alabama teams have underperformed in a couple of non-playoff bowl games (most famously in this same Sugar Bowl against Utah in 2009), they’ve also done just fine in a couple. There’s value in the Tide here, and we might as well take it.

CFP UNDERDOGS

The play: Peach Bowl, Ohio State +6 vs. Georgia

The odds/bet: -110 ($11 to win $10)

The book: Caesars Sportsbook

Time/TV: 8 p.m. (ESPN)

Our take: Occasionally during the season, you’d see a sportsbook release a look-ahead line for potential championship game or playoff games. When that potential matchup was Georgia against Ohio State, the line was as low as a pick ’em and as high as Georgia -4.

But giving the Buckeyes more than that seems like an overreaction to one bad game, Ohio State’s loss to Michigan. Do we really believe that Ohio State is closer to what it showed in that game than it was in the first 11 games? Besides, Georgia has played one top-10-level game this season. The Bulldogs suffocated Tennessee in this game, but Ohio State is at another level of talent even on top of that.

If you want even more value, you could consider parlaying Ohio State with the other CFP underdog, TCU +7½ against Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl. (I think this is the year we finally get two competitive semifinal games.) Or — if you think the Buckeyes can pull off the upset outright — consider Ohio State at +350 to win the national title. If they can beat Georgia, they’ll certainly be favored in the championship game, and yes, that includes a rematch with Michigan.

HOW WE’VE FARED

Friday’s best bets

Orange Bowl, Clemson -4.5 over Tennessee (LOST $33)

NBA, LeBron James OVER 30.5 points (WON $20)

Friday’s profit/loss: -$13 (1-1)

Total for the week: -$72.80 (3-6)

Total for December: -$119 (23-32)

Total for 2022: +$91.90 (335-363)

NOTE: If a line or odds are minus, it considers the juice one must lay to place the bet. Ex: Team A is -160 on the money line, one would have to bet $160 to win $100 (or $16 to win $10). OR Team B is a 5-point favorite at -110, one would have to bet $110 to win $100 (or $11 to win $10.)

Conversely, on positive lines, if Team C is +140 on the money line, a $100 would bring in $140 (or $10 to win $14).

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