The top sportsbooks have released their NCAAF odds for the College Football Playoff National Championship between Georgia and Alabama. Both teams cruised to first-round victories: Alabama defeated Cincinnati 27-6 while Georgia beat Michigan 34-11.
The Bulldogs will look to avoid a repeat of the SEC Championship result. On December 4, Alabama beat Georgia 41-24 despite initially falling behind 10-0.
For reasons that I will explain, you should play the moneyline for this game.
Georgia Bulldogs vs. Alabama Crimson Tide
Monday, January 10, 2022 – 08:00 PM EST at Lucas Oil Stadium
Understanding Alabama's Ceiling
In a sense, Alabama may look like a very confusing team. On the one hand, the Tide lost to Texas A&M, struggled to contain defensive pressure mounted by Auburn and LSU, and quarterback Bryce Young looked lost for long phases of the game against Florida with the result that he threw for a paltry 240 yards on 35 attempts.
And yet, on the other hand, this same group of guys blew out a favored Georgia team that had looked unbeatable up to that point. In that game, Young didn't take a sack. Moreover, the Heisman Trophy winner threw for over 400 yards.
I think that two intangibles play a prominent role in creating this distinction: emotion and focus. Coach Saban pointed out that. Against Florida, the Tide was not focused for 60 minutes. The progression of scoring bears out Saban's observation: his team started strong, lulled with a big lead, and did enough to stay ahead.
Against Mississippi State and Ole Miss, Alabama was buoyed by emotion. After slipping past Florida, this team had been hearing about its flaws all week from sports media outlets.
Thus, Saban had plenty of ammunition to fire up his squad, which responded to criticism by blowing out Ole Miss. Later, after losing to Texas A&M, Alabama was angry as it beat Mississippi State by 40 points.
In the SEC Championship Game, Alabama was playing for the SEC title and for its playoff hopes. When Alabama is locked in, its ceiling is sky-high. This ceiling, apparent in its 17-point drubbing of Georgia, is the only relevant takeaway.
For one's NCAAF picks, one can only assume that perhaps the greatest college coach of all time will have his squad locked in to play its best when the national title is on the line.
One has to look at this meeting between Georgia and Alabama not simply as a game but as a rematch. On December 4, Bryce Young enjoyed superb pass protection, which was the consequence of Alabama's offensive linemen preparing better than they had before.
They knew their opponent well. They were also supported by more cautious protection schemes, which further ensured that Young had sufficient time to flourish in the pocket.
This success should not be surprising because it is a talented unit. Starting left tackle Evan Neal, who projects as the top pick in this year's NFL Draft, and right guard Emil Ekiyor were two starters on last year's group which won the Joe Moore Award given to the best offensive line.
Current starting right tackle Chris Owens also started two games last year, one at center and one at right tackle. Bama was able to provide effective former five-star recruits as reinforcements in the win over Cincinnati.
Wide Receivers vs. Georgia Secondary
In the SEC title game, with this level of pass protection, Young was able to stand in the pocket and allow his wide receivers to find spaces for him to locate them in. Strong pass protection amplified a serious mismatch that, despite the absence of John Metchie III, will continue to favor the Bama offense.
Throughout the season, Georgia's defense has shown weakness in the back end. Thing is, they didn't face pass attacks that could really exploit this weakness. Even in its season opener, this weakness was apparent as Clemson wide receivers drew multiple pass interference penalties.
This weakness was also apparent in the game against Michigan, but the anyhow run-first Wolverines lacked the confidence in their quarterback to take advantage. In the second quarter, Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara found Roman Wilson for a 42-yard pass on a go route.
Likewise, in the third quarter, McNamara hit the tight end, Erick All, twice for gains of over 20 yards. The most important wide receiver for Alabama will be Jameson Williams who amassed 1,445 yards and 14 touchdowns on 21.3 YPC this season.
An effective route-runner and excellent speedster, Williams torched the Bulldogs for 184 yards on seven receptions. As projections and recent history indicate, Cincinnati's group of cornerbacks is stronger than Georgia's. Young and his pass-catchers did generally look out of sync against Cincinnati.
But this clunkiness is unsurprising given the game plan: Bama wanted to ride its physical advantage by relying heavily on workhorse running back Brian Robinson Jr.
Against Georgia, Young and Williams will play a more central part in the Bama game-plan and will be focused and fired up to play their best as they did on December 4 against a more vulnerable group.
Georgia Can't Keep Up
Know for your sports betting that Georgia is not built for shootouts and it is not built to come from behind.
Stetson Bennett is a serviceable quarterback who can eventually reach 300 yards passing with enough attempts. But, as has repeatedly been the case in recent years, Georgia is at its best on the ground.
An opponent with an offense too difficult to stop simply creates an unpropitious scenario for the Bulldogs given their limitations in the passing game.
Trends and Verdict
Alabama opened as the underdog for this game, which means that Saban will have extra ammunition to fire up his troops with. Saban's Crimson Tide has won five of their last six times as the underdog.
Moreover, Alabama has beaten Georgia seven straight times. Four of those wins came in SEC championship games (2012, 2018, 2021) and a national championship game (January 2018).
Lastly, Coach Saban is 25-1 SU against teams led by a former assistant. Expect Alabama to race past Georgia for what will be Saban's eighth national title.
For the above reasons, I recommend playing Bama on the
NCAAF Pick: Alabama +2.5 (-105) at BetOnline
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.