It’s all SEC at the National Championship Game, as Alabama and Georgia meet for the second time ever at the College Football Playoff title game. Which is the right ATS college football pick?
Georgia Bulldogs vs. Alabama Crimson
Monday, January 10, 2022 – 08:00 PM EST at Lucas Oil Stadium
While both teams hail from the same conference, their national title histories are wildly different. The Crimson Tide will be playing for their 17th championship in history and their 7th under coach Nick Saban. If they win, then, since 2009, Saban and Alabama will have won more national titles—seven—than every other team in the country combined—six.
Georgia, meanwhile, will be vying to put a companion for their lone championship—which the Bulldogs won back in 1980—in their trophy case. Saban was a decade away from his first head coaching job when the Dawgs last won the title, and Georgia coach Kirby Smart was a preschooler.
Georgia spent the entire regular season at No. 1 in the nation before getting toppled from that spot when Alabama beat the Bulldogs by 17 in the SEC Championship Game. Now, a month later, Georgia coach Kirby Smart is focused on winning the rematch, for much higher stakes.
Smart passed on the traditional Gatorade shower from his players following the win over Michigan in the national semifinal on New Year’s Eve, saying, “I’m not interested in celebrating that.”
Instead, Smart wanted his team to look forward to the Alabama game. That’s probably a good idea, considering the recent history between the two teams. Alabama has won seven in a row over the Bulldogs, including a 4-0 record for Saban over Smart, his former defensive coordinator.
Adding insult to injury, Georgia led Alabama in all four of those Saban-Smart matchups, including having double-digit leads in three of them.
The SEC title game looked like a good candidate for being rock bottom for Georgia, as the favored Bulldogs seemed overwhelmed by the Crimson Tide.
“We didn't play well,” Smart said. “We turned the ball over and didn't get any turnovers and played poorly in the red area. You can list all the things we did in the last game. That's all our kids have heard about for three weeks.”
That’s why the Bulldogs players complained about “We Are the Champions” being played at the trophy presentation following the win over Michigan.
"Champs not at all. The job's not finished," linebacker Nakobe Dean said. "We didn't do everything we did this whole season just to win the Orange Bowl."
Looking to Go Back-To-Back
While Alabama has been a coin toss to win the national title over the past dozen years, one thing the Tide hasn’t done in the College Football Playoff era is winning in back-to-back years. Bama won in 2011 and 2012, prior to football adopting the playoff. But in the seven-year history of the CFP, the Tide has never been able to repeat as champions. They’ll get the chance to do it on Monday.
The Tide coaches and players don’t need to preach about being focused on the game, because they’ve all been in this spot before and know what it takes to win the title. Their comfort on the big stage will give Alabama a big advantage over the Dawgs.
Alabama will have to cope with several injuries. Cornerback Josh Jobe has been ruled out of the title game and will be replaced by Kool-Aid McKinstry. On the other side, corner Jalyn Armour-Davis struggled to play with injury against Cincinnati and could be slowed if he plays at all against Georgia. The offensive line also suffered a pair of injuries during the semifinal in Emil Ekiyor Jr. and Chris Owens. The team hasn’t updated the status for either player.
Georgia winning it all would be a great storyline, and it’s likely the desired outcome for most of the people who will tune into the game, but Alabama fatigue isn’t the way to place your bets at the top-rated sportsbooks. Until the Dawgs break through and get the win over the Tide, Alabama as an underdog at the NCAAF odds should be the play.
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