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College football predictions, odds: Experts pick Michigan vs. Georgia playoff semifinal in Orange Bowl game

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After months of speculating about who would reach the College Football Playoff, it’s time to finally play the games. No. 1 Alabama will take on No. 4 Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl on Saturday afternoon, while No. 2 Michigan faces No. 3 Georgia in the Orange Bowl that will serve as the nightcap just before New Year’s Eve concludes. They’re two fantastic matchups with several different storylines threaded throughout the respective games.

Will Cincinnati shock the world and take down Alabama? Will Georgia recover from its loss to Alabama? Will Michigan continue proving the entire nation wrong? And obviously, will Bama take its latest step in attempting to win back-to-back titles for the first time in a decade? There are plenty of storylines that can be created across the two semifinals.

Making a case for … No. 1 Alabama | No. 2 Michigan | No. 3 GeorgiaNo. 4 Cincinnati

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All of these questions will be answered soon in two games that should keep us entertained, but you know what makes entertaining games even more exciting? Wagering on them. As far as where you should be looking for your best bets, allow the expert gamblers here at CBS Sports — experts at betting, not necessarily winning — to help you make the most informed decisions.

So here are my thoughts on what we’re most likely to see on Friday during the College Football Playoff semifinals along with plenty of picks from my fellow scribes. Odds via Caesars Sportsbook

2021 Orange Bowl: (2) Michigan vs. (3) Georgia

Featured Game | Michigan Wolverines vs. Georgia Bulldogs

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Spread: These teams are so similar that it’s hard to imagine scenarios in which either side is capable of pulling away from the other. Both offenses are built on running the ball behind an excellent offensive line that can wear down an opposing defense and break them in the second half. Both have passing attacks that are overlooked due to a pair of quarterbacks who aren’t elite but are the more traditional “game-manager” types. Then there are the defenses. Georgia has an elite front seven that’s proven impenetrable to nearly everybody it has faced this year. Michigan has an elite pass-rush led by Heisman finalist Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo.

I believe the back end of those defenses could be the difference. Georgia’s secondary is its defense’s weak point — though it’s still quite good! — and was exposed by Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. Michigan’s secondary is better and has an X-factor in Daxton Hill, who is capable of helping out against the run but also able to cover receivers and tight ends like Georgia’s Brock Bowers. I don’t think that’s enough to lead Michigan to victory, but it is enough to make sure the Bulldogs cannot pull away. So as I stare at that hook on the seven in the spread, I can’t help but go with the Wolverines. If the spread somehow crawls below seven before kickoff, I’d take Georgia. That’s how razor-thin this margin appears to be. Pick: Michigan +7.5

Total: It seems counterintuitive, but I’m going over. Yes, these are great defenses, but those defenses have overshadowed two good offenses. Georgia’s offense ranks first nationally in success rate and seventh in points per drive. Michigan ranks sixth in success rate and eighth in points per drive. While I don’t see this game becoming some kind of 80-point shootout, a 27-20 final is well within the likely range of outcomes. Let’s fade the general consensus. Pick: Over 45.5

Prop: While he hasn’t been a huge part of the passing offense for Georgia this year, James Cook can be used as an option out of the backfield. He’s caught 21 passes for 157 yards and three touchdowns, and this matchup should lead to opportunities for him as a receiver. While Brock Bowers is the focus of Georgia’s passing attack, Michigan safety Daxton Hill is capable of taking him out of play. Meanwhile, the rest of Georgia’s receiving corps has not been spectacular, and the Michigan pass rush could force Stetson Bennett to look for his checkdown a lot. That means Cook could see a larger share of targets than usual, and he’s capable of going over this total on only one reception. Pick: James Cook Over 15.5 receiving yards

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2021 Cotton Bowl: (1) Alabama vs. (4) Cincinnati

Spread: If there’s a blowout in the CFP semifinals, this is the game most likely to provide it. The spread suggests as much, as does the fact that it’s Alabama going against Cincinnati, the first Group of Five team to ever play for a national championship since the start of the BCS. We’ve seen this story a few times already. This is Alabama’s seventh playoff appearance, and it has gone 5-1 in its first six semifinals with its lone loss coming to Ohio State in 2014. Its five wins have come by an average of 20.2 points with the closest game being a 45-34 win over Oklahoma in the 2018 Orange Bowl that Bama led 28-0 before OU joined the party.

Will that happen again? There’s a good chance! Cincinnati has featured an excellent pass-rush all season, which will come in handy against this Bama offense. If you allow Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young to sit in the pocket and allow his receivers to come open, he will pick you apart. You need to make him uncomfortable and have him moving to have a chance. I’m not sure Cincinnati can accomplish that feat as this Crimson Tide offensive line will be better than any line the Bearcats have seen this season.

On the back end, Cincinnati has top-tier defensive backs in Ahmad Gardner and Coby Bryant to slow Alabama’s receivers, but nobody can cover Jameson Williams for 60 minutes. On the other side of the ball, the Bearcats will need Desmond Ridder to have one of the best games of his life to keep pace with the Alabama offense, and I don’t see it happening. My heart is hoping for a close, exciting game, but my head tells me there won’t be much drama left in this one in the fourth quarter. Pick: Alabama -13.5

Total: While I don’t love either side of the total, I’d rather be on the over if I’m going in either direction. Cincinnati’s defense has been phenomenal this season, but as I wrote above, I’m not confident it can withstand this Alabama offense. Whether Alabama covers the spread or not, I don’t see many outcomes to this game in which Bama doesn’t score at least 30 points, and there’s a good chance the Tide will get into the 40s by themselves. So whether it’s a blowout or not, it should be a high-scoring affair as opposed toa slugfest. Pick: Over 58

Prop: The Bearcats have had one of the best defenses in the country all season as corners Ahmad Gardner and Coby Bryant have helped shut down passing attacks. The duo has been so effective that Cincinnati hasn’t allowed more than two touchdown passes in a game this season, and it’s only happened twice (against Indiana and Houston). Of course, Cincinnati has not faced a passing attack or a quarterback near the caliber of what they’ll see against Alabama and Bryce Young. Even with Jon Metchie missing the game, Alabama should have success moving the ball in the air to its other weapons, as Bryce Young has averaged 3.3 touchdowns this season. I’m expecting him to have another average performance today. Pick: Bryce Young Over 2.5 TD passes

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Which College Football Playoff picks should you make, and will any underdogs will win outright? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread — all from a proven computer model that has returned almost $3,600 in profit over the past five-plus seasons — and find out.



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Jacoby Brissett shares funny story about Eagles’ Nick Sirianni trying to fight fans when two were with Colts

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Nick Sirianni has showcased himself as a passionate head coach since being hired by the Philadelphia Eagles a year ago. Sirianni demonstrated how passionate he can be toward his team when a bouquet of flowers was thrown at him after a November loss to the Los Angeles Chargers last year, a moment he doesn’t like to reminiscence about. 

Turns out, Sirianni has unleashed his passion towards his team prior to his days in Philadelphia. Cleveland Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who was the signal-caller for the Indianapolis Colts when Sirianni was the offensive coordinator, shared a good story regarding his former coach and his encounters with fans ahead of the Browns-Eagles preseason matchup Saturday night.

“Remember he was trying to fight fans one time they were booing us,” Brissett said with many laughs from the media in attendance. “A lot of good memories. A great friend. A great coach obviously. I am extremely happy for him and the opportunity that he has been presented. I think he did a great job last year. Excited to see where he goes. I am a big fan of him.”

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Sirianni’s second year as the offensive coordinator in Indianapolis was the year Andrew Luck shockingly retired (2019), forcing Brissett into the starting role. Brissett started 15 games for the Colts that season, going 7-8 in his starts while completing 60.2% of his passes for 2,942 yards, 18 touchdowns and six interceptions for an 88.0 passer rating. Brissett didn’t throw a touchdown pass, nor did he throw for more than 200 yards in his last three games played in 2019, finishing with a passer rating lower than 70 on all three occurrences. 

Brissett and Sirianni were together in Indianapolis for three years before the Eagles hired Sirianni and Brissett signed with the Miami Dolphins in 2021. Sirianni was flattered Brissett shared those fan stories, going into detail why he’s ultra passionate toward his players. 

“He’s teasing and making that up a little bit,” Sirianni said with a laugh. “I think one thing that, to a fault, maybe, even with me is — and I’ve been this way since I was a little kid with my brothers, we’re a family. My brothers and my dad and my mom were a family and I’m the youngest. One brother is nine years older than me and one is six years older than me. When they would have a bad game or say something bad about them or talk bad about them, I was quick to be defensive of them because I love them.

“Now as a coach, I feel like I have that. I was like that as a teammate I would like to think. As a coach, I definitely know I have that, like, protective (instinct) — like I know these guys are the biggest, strongest men in the world and they can protect themselves, but I love these guys. 

“That’s just an instinct that you have. That’s how I was raised, and I was like, this is our family, and I just have that protective instinct to defend them, and that’s been like that with every team I’ve ever coached.”

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Packers’ Matt LaFleur says Jordan Love ‘light years ahead’ of last year: ‘The game has slowed down for him’

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Jordan Love certainly showed the progress the Green Bay Packers wanted from the first preseason game to the second, using the deep ball to give Green Bay optimism in a post-Aaron Rodgers world. Love was accurate on his deep passes that didn’t reflect his overall performance in the box score. 

Packers head coach Matt LaFleur liked what he saw from the former first-round pick, saying he’s “light years ahead” of where he was last year.

“I think the game has slowed down for him,” LaFleur said after Friday’s 20-10 win over the New Orleans Saints (via ESPN). “I see a much more decisive player. I think that’s going to lead to a much more effective player.”

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Love finished 12 of 24 for 113 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions, yet his performance was highlighted by several drops that affected his night. Love threw a deep pass to seventh-round rookie Samori Toure that wasn’t a completion, and fourth-round rookie Romeo Doubs also misread a pass that led to a drop. LaFleur admitted Toure’s ball needed to be caught. 

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The Packers are liking what they’re seeing from Love, throwing accurate deep passes and showcasing his arm strength. The five drops certainly affected Love’s performance — as was the case in his three-interception game last week — yet the Packers have seen enough to be confident in Love if he had to play this year.





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Combate Global picks, live stream, how to watch, fight card: Tena vs. Romero predictions, channel, time

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The Combate Global schedule will continue Friday on Paramount+ with five fights from La Jaula in Miami. Ivan Tena is a 23-year-old featherweight who looks like one of the best prospects in the promotion after earning three knockout victories and one submission win in his first four fights. He’ll take on Mexican fighter Roberto Romero in a USA vs. Mexico showdown in the 145-pound division. You can stream the action live on Paramount+.

The co-main event will feature Chile’s Valentina Escobar (1-0) against Mexico’s Yazmin Najera in a fight at 120 pounds. Another bout on the Combate Global fight card will feature a pair of veteran featherweights as Carlos Rivera (14-6) takes on Landry Ward (5-1). The Combate Global fight card begins at 10:30 p.m. ET and you can catch all the action live on Paramount+.

Paramount+ now has two levels of membership so you can watch Combate and much more. The Premium Plan is $9.99 per month and you can watch your local CBS live stream, including plenty of sports like Champions League, Italian Serie A, college hoops, and the PGA Tour, with no ads, on-demand and the ability to download episodes for offline viewing. Plus, watch the highly-anticipated series Halo, Picard, 1883, and more. Both plans come with a free week to start. Paramount+ will even give you a free week to start, so sign up now here.

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How to watch Combate Global 

  • Date: Friday, August 19
  • Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
  • Streaming: Paramount+

Top Combate Global picks for Aug. 19 fight card

Before tuning in to Friday’s Combate Global fight card, you need to see the picks from SportsLine’s MMA insider Andrew Gombas. With more than 1,400 selections tracked by the third-party monitoring service Bet MMA, he has shown a 6 percent return on investment for his followers. Over the past two years, his followers have netted a profit of more than $10,000. 

For Friday’s card, Gombas is picking Tena to defeat Romero to stay unbeaten and continue his rise up the featherweight ranks. Tena is a recent Arizona State graduate who trains out of MMA Lab and has finished all four of his professional fights in the first or second round. Romero is coming off a draw against Zed Montanez in his last fight.

“This is a fantastic main event for the Combate USA vs. Mexico card. Ivan Tena is one of the prospects in Combate who I hold in high regard. Roberto Romero is known for an exciting fighting style and has a bright future as well. I have to side with Tena. He is a slick finisher who punishes his opponents for making mistakes. I think he gets another finish,” Gombas told SportsLine. Stream the card on Paramount+ now.

How to watch Combate Global in Miami

Now that you know who to pick, get ready to watch Combate Global. Visit Paramount+ now to see the Combate Global, your live local CBS sporting events, some of the world’s top soccer matchups and much more.

August 19 Combate Global fight card

Stream the entire Combate Global fight card here

  • Ivan Tena vs. Roberto Romero
  • Valentina Escobar vs. Yazmin Najera
  • Carlos Rivera vs. Landry Ward
  • Jaret Betancourt vs. Rodrigo Garcia
  • Katie Perez vs. Andrea Meneses Garcia



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