The eighth College Football Playoff National Championship Game is set for Monday night in Indianapolis, and for the sixth time, the Alabama Crimson Tide will be one of the combatants.
Standing in their way is a very familiar foe: the University of Georgia.
The two SEC titans will play for all the college football marbles at Lucas Oil Stadium in a rematch of their SEC championship showdown from just a month ago. Nick Saban’s team won that game 41-24 behind a stellar performance from 2021 Heisman Trophy winner Brice Young, and despite that, it’s the Bulldogs who are favored Monday night.
Here’s a quick betting preview for the CFP national championship game.
Alabama vs. (-2.5) Georgia
(Betting lines per DraftKings Sportsbook)
WHAT THE TRENDS SAY
Obviously, you can look at some trends, especially the more arbitrary ones, and paint any picture you’d like. Odds Shark has a great rundown of them all, but excuse us if we’re not willing to put a ton of stock in the fact that Alabama is 1-5 against the spread in its last six Monday games. What does stand out, however, is the head-to-head trends. For example, Georgia has lost its last seven games against Alabama and has struggled to cover the number, going 1-3-1 ATS in its last five versus Saban’s team. Somehow, the picture is even bleaker when the Dogs are favored. Georgia, per Odds Shark, is 0-3 straight-up and 0-3 ATS in its last three games with the Crimson Tide when the Bulldogs are favored. The trends point to value on Alabama, especially with the Crimson Tide catching points, especially with ‘Bama going 5-1 SU and ATS in the last six rare occasions it’s the underdog.
WHAT THE PUBLIC BETTING SAYS
There’s a pretty clear split between the public and professional betting communities, according to those in the know.
NESN.com already explored this split last week, with PointsBet trading director Jay Croucher explaining how they opened the game and adjusted early on.
“We waited and opened Georgia -3, and I honestly thought we would take money on Alabama no matter what because most people bet Nick Saban as an underdog,” Croucher told NESN betting analyst Sam Panayotovich. “(But) our money is completely split down the middle. The fact that line was immediately bet from -1 to -3 tellls you that the sharps clearly like Georgia in the game.”
Weekend betting further exposed a clear line between the pros and Joes.
“A very interesting bet split is shaping up for this one,” VSiN’s Josh Appelbaum wrote Monday morning. “The public is all over the Crimson dog as a trendy dog, with Alabama receiving 64% of bets at BetMGM. However, a larger proportion of respected money is laying the points with Georgia, who is only receiving 36% of bets but 48% of money.”
PICK: Georgia -2.5
Obviously, the trends and public action tell multiple stories, but when it comes to the actual football, that’s where things get real interesting. There’s a reason Georgia is favored in this game, and that’s because Kirby Smart’s team has been the better unit for just about the entire season. Obviously, Saban and Alabama have had their number for quite some time, and the most recent meeting wasn’t pretty. But there’s reason to believe Georgia is better-positioned this time around.
It would be an awfully poor look for UGA to be surprised by anything Alabama throws at them this time around. The Bulldogs seemed unprepared for what ‘Bama was gonna bring in Atlanta, and making that same mistake twice would be devastating. Fortunately for Georgia, everything it did leading up to that game was enough to keep it in the playoff, and it gets another chance after a thorough dismantling of Michigan in the semis. And this time around, Georgia won’t have to worry about game-planning for standout Alabama wideout John Metchie III, who tore his ACL in that SEC Championship Game. That should allow the Bulldogs to key in on Jameson Williams, making things a little more difficult for Young.
It’s also important Georgia gets more pressure on Young this time around. He was far too comfortable in Atlanta, and the Bulldogs looked like a completely different defense against the Wolverines when they generated more pressure on the passer. It’s also unlikely Alabama is able to push around the Georgia defense like it did Cincinnati in its own CFP semifinal game.
There are questions about Georgia’s offense, of course, but if the defense plays anywhere near what it showed for the majority of the season, it eases the pressure on Stetson Bennett, allowing the Bulldogs to come away victorious in a low-scoring, tight affair.