National Championship: Georgia vs Alabama College Football Picks
Will The Tide Turn For Bulldogs?
The Alabama Crimson Tide are like Dante, the forelorn convenience store clerk in the Kevin Smith cult film Clerks. They aren't even supposed to be here today. Alabama (12-1) lost its final regular-season game at Auburn, and therefore didn't make it to the SEC Championship Game. The fourth-ranked Crimson Tide were the only school selected by the committe to participate in the College Football Playoff that did not win their conference title, and there was plenty of consternation over Alabama's selection.
The Crimson Tide (12-1) answered their critics by throttling the No. 1-ranked Clemson Tigers 24-6 in one of two semifinals last week, avenging last season's loss to Clemson in the national title game and earning a spot in the championship contest for the third successive season. That victory set up a showdown with the SEC champion Georgia Bulldogs. The No. 3 Bulldogs (13-1) outlasted the second-ranked Oklahoma Sooners 54-48 in overtime in last week's other semifinal.
It will be a home game in a sense for the Bulldogs, as the title game is played at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium. But will that be an advantage for Georgia? Let's look at all the angles in this college football title tilt, based on the odds established by Bovada.
Georgia (+165) vs. Alabama (-190)
Things have come in threes lately in this series. Alabama is riding a three-game winning streak over Georgia since 2008, but prior to that, the Bulldogs won three in a row from the Tide between 2002-07. That run came after Alabama assembled three straight wins over Georgia from 1991-95.
The two teams share a common failure. Both suffered their lone defeat at the hands of the seventh-ranked Auburn Tigers. Alabama fell 26-14, while Georgia was toppled 40-17, but the Bulldogs avenged that defeat via a 28-7 decision over Auburn in the SEC title game. The Bulldogs are 4-1 this season against ranked teams, while the Crimson Tide are 3-1. The Bulldogs are also 7-0 this season in games played in the state of Georgia.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart, the former Alabama defensive coordinator, will be seeking to buck a trend when he goes up against his old boss. Saban is 11-0 in his career head to head against teams coached by his former assistants. Alabama relied heavily on its ground game in the win over Clemson and will likely pound the ball at Georgia as well, taking the pressure off quarterback Jalen Hurts to win the game with his arm.
While Georgia's offense was able to score almost at will against Oklahoma, Alabama will present a much tougher defensive front. The Crimson Tide have allowed more than 20 points just three times, holding opponents to 10 points or less nine times, including a pair of shutouts. Alabama's defense is the stingiest in the nation, allowing 11.1 points per game, 252.4 yards per game and 91.8 yards per game on the ground. But the Tide did surrender triple digit rushing numbers in their final three regular-season games.
The Bulldogs will absoultely need to run the ball if they want to have success. Their 1-2 punch of Sony Michel (1129. 16) and Nick Chubb (1320, 15) combined for 2449 yards and 31 touchdowns. Together they ran for 326 yards and five scores in Georgia's semifinal win over Oklahoma. But they haven't seen a run defense like Alabama's all season. The closest was Auburn, and in the Tigers' win over Georgia, the key was their ability to contain the Bulldogs run attack and force QB Jake Fromm to take the game to the air.BABB Pick: Alabama (-5), under (45) Bovada
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