It’s hardly a secret that the Alabama Crimson Tide has dominated the Georgia Bulldogs in recent years. Things were seemingly set to change in this season’s SEC Championship Game, but Alabama simply made things worse for the Bulldogs.
Entering with an undefeated record, and a dominant defense that left opponents battered all season, Kirby Smart was going to post his first win in four tries against Nick Saban, his former boss.
And then the game began – and, if anything, things got even worse for Georgia as Alabama rolled to a 41-24 win. Many questioned if Georgia could rebound emotionally, but the Bulldogs blitzed Michigan in a College Football Playoff semifinal after Alabama’s emphatic win over Cincinnati.
The question now is whether the fourth time will be the charm for the Bulldogs, a question that will be answered Monday (8 p.m. ET, ESPN) in the College Football Playoff National Championship.
Can Georgia finally turn the Tide and snap its seven-game losing streak to Alabama? Oddsmakers aren’t as bullish as they were a month ago as the Bulldogs (favored by 6.5 points in the SEC title tilt) opened as just 2.5-point favorites this time around. The number is now Georgia -3 at Caesars, DraftKings, BetMGM, and other books across the industry with the total a consensus 52.
NCAAF · Mon (1/10) @ 8:15pm ET
|Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Alabama|
Georgia (13-1 SU, 9-5 ATS)
The Bulldogs entered the College Football Playoff as the third seed, but that hasn’t kept the oddsmakers from favoring them in the rematch against Alabama. This, despite Georgia’s failure to beat Alabama with Smart at the helm.
In the end, though, the oddsmakers look at Georgia’s roster and continue to believe it should beat Alabama’s. This is largely a testament to a defensive unit that has been great aside from the Alabama loss.
Against Michigan, the Bulldogs led 27-3 at halftime and a fourth-quarter touchdown made it an emphatic 34-3 before the Wolverines finally reached the end zone. It was the perfect mix of a potent offense and suffocating defense that has personified Georgia’s dominance.
But if that mix isn’t just right against Alabama, it may lead to another crushing defeat. To prevent that, Georgia needs to run the ball effectively, allowing quarterback Stetson Bennett to efficiently manage the game.
Bennett attempted more than 21 passes in a game just once in the regular season but threw 48 passes in the loss to Alabama. Bennett threw for three touchdowns, but was intercepted twice and sacked three times – a similar performance Monday would likely prove disastrous.
Georgia rushed for just 109 yards in the SEC title game, which put undue pressure on Bennett. The Bulldogs need to find a way to nearly double that total Monday night.
Alabama (13-1 SU, 8-6 ATS)
The Crimson Tide playing for the national championship is nothing new, it’s seemingly a bigger story when Alabama isn’t in the title game.
Saban is in search of an astonishing seventh national championship in 13 seasons. Will he stick with the same defensive approach that crushed Georgia a month ago, or throw something completely different at the Bulldogs?
Expecting the unexpected is the right way to prepare for Alabama. When opponents game plan for Alabama ‘zigging,’ they seemingly always ‘zag’ and vice versa. It’s a testament to the genius of Saban, his staff of assistants, and a roster filled with highly-touted recruits and under-the-radar players who come up big when the spotlight shines brightest.
In the 27-6 semifinal win over Cincinnati, the Crimson Tide ran for 301 yards while Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young threw for just 181 yards. But that shows Saban’s mastery as Young threw for the Tide’s three touchdowns when the flow of the game seemingly indicated they’d come via the ground game.
Look for Brian Robinson Jr. to lead the running game as he rushed for 204 yards against Cincinnati, giving him 1,275 yards and 14 touchdowns on the season. Trey Sanders will be in the mix as well, but Robinson will be the focal point.
With standout receiver John Metchie III sidelined with a knee injury, freshman Ja’Corey Brooks led Alabama with 66 receiving yards in the Cotton Bowl. Jameson Williams (1,507 yards, 15 TDs) is by far the focal point of the passing game, but receiver Slade Bolden and tight end Cameron Latu will also be targeted by Young.
Georgia vs. Alabama Betting Analysis
It’s quite possible the oddsmakers have done Saban a favor as Alabama is 5-1 ATS in its last six games as an underdog. Don’t be surprised if Saban refers to the odds as “delicious rat poison” should the Tide emerge with the victory.
On the season, these two teams are a combined 13-13 on the total, with the ‘over’ hitting seven times for Alabama and six times for Georgia. The ‘over’ hit just six times for Georgia, with the ‘under’ cashing seven times.
The ‘under’ is 3-0-1 in Alabama’s last four bowl games and the ‘under’ is 4-0 in Georgia’s last four bowl games, and in its last four bowl games as the favorite.