It has been all or nothing when the Alabama Crimson Tide have a betting line as tight as the one Nick Saban’s team faces against the Georgia Bulldogs in the national title game.
Alabama is a four-point favorite against Georgia with a 45.5-point total in the College Football Playoff Championship Game matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The all-SEC tilt takes place at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Monday.
The OddsShark College Football Database has turned up an odd pattern with Alabama: it is 4-4 straight-up and against the spread in its last eight games as a favorite of 5.5 or fewer points, alternating covers with outright defeats (the most recent instance was its loss against Auburn in November, for what that is worth). Georgia is 3-1 SU and 4-0 ATS over the last two seasons as an underdog of 5.5 or fewer points.
Going against Alabama means setting aside its 24-1 SU record in its last 25 games against SEC teams, as well as the 11-0 SU record of Saban-coached teams against opponents led by any of his former assistant coaches. Georgia, guided by Kirby Smart (a former Alabama defensive coordinator), won as an underdog against the Oklahoma Sooners in the Rose Bowl on Monday and it is 10-0 SU in its last 10 games after winning as an underdog.
Georgia, which is 13-1 SU and 10-4 ATS, will be trying to beat Alabama at its own game, relying offensively on a lethal rushing game built around their Nick Chubb-Sony Michel rushing tandem and a defense led by OLB Roquan Smith.
The typical formula to beat Alabama begins and ends with transcendent quarterback play – think Clemson and Deshaun Watson in the 2016 championship, or college-level Johnny Manziel in 2012. Bulldogs QB Jake Fromm will be trying to be the first true freshman QB to win a national title since 1985 (Hurts nearly did so last season).
It seems like a tall order for a run-based offense to succeed against Alabama, which allows just 2.8 yards per rush (second-lowest nationally). But Georgia is much more efficient than Clemson.
Alabama, which is 12-1 SU and 6-7 ATS overall, got a major statement during the Sugar Bowl from its offensive line, which held up well against a vaunted Clemson defensive line, but Georgia’s defense grades out better statistically than Clemson’s. Hurts, who was turnover-free against Clemson, will need to show enough of a passing threat to keep Smith and fellow OLB Lorenzo Carter honest, rather than selling out to stop the run.
The Crimson Tide does have an ace in the hole – the hole perhaps being in the deep middle of the Georgia secondary – in that WR Calvin Ridley will be the most talented receiver on the field on Monday. Bulldogs FS J.R. Reed will have the critical task of containing Ridley.
Alabama’s running back combo of Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough might not be as well-known as their Bulldogs counterparts. However, like Georgia, Alabama is in the top 10 nationally in overall rushing and yards per carry.
Alabama is only 1-4 ATS in its last five games in January. However, the smallest line in any of those games was 6.5 points.
The Crimson Tide are No. 1 in the nation in scoring defense, while the Bulldogs are No. 4 in fewest points allowed despite playing in the highest-scoring Rose Bowl (102 total). There are some pronounced over trends, though. The total has gone over in five of Georgia’s last seven games against its conference. The total has also gone over in five of Alabama’s last six games in January.