College Football By The Odds: Vegas Pick And Preview Of Georgia Vs. Alabama

Brynn Anderson / Associated Press

Alabama wide receiver Slade Bolden (18) celebrates during the second half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game against Georgia, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Atlanta. Alabama won 41-24. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

By cite">>Case Keefer (contact)

A blisteringly hot final week has locked up another winning bowl season and added extra incentive to finishing strong with a winner on the College Football Playoff championship game.

I’ve hit five straight plays down the stretch to bring the season-long record in the top picks category to

74-75. That’s a disappointing, unprofitable figure regardless of what happens in tonight’s rematch between Alabama and Georgia but it would at least feel like a win to lock up a .500 record.

The records beyond the plays have been more successful. I’m

371-353-9 picking every game on the year with leans at

130-112-2 and guesses

163-162-7. With one game to go, I’m

20-15-1 overall bowl season.

It’s been another fun year of college football, but it would be even better if I could head into the offseason with a winner in the national championship — and a cash in the futures market.

Read below for picks and analysis on the national championship, the final college football game of the year.

College Football Playoff National Championship: Georgia -2.5 vs. Alabama, over/under: 52.

The first bet I made all college football season, placed on July 14, 2020, was Georgia to win the title at 10-to-1. My handicapping of this game, therefore, is tethered to that ticket.

Do I play Alabama as an underdog to hedge my position or let it ride? I was in a similar spot in the last game between these two teams in December, with a future on Georgia to win the SEC, and chose to play some back on Alabama.

That was a lot easier decision, however, considering the Crimson Tide were available at +7 against the Bulldogs for a rather large 7-point middle where I could have cashed both bets. That, of course, didn’t happen, as Alabama wiped away a 10-0 deficit and cruised to a 41-24 victory while closing as a 6-point underdog.

The biggest question now is whether that result meant enough to push the line in the rematch, at another neutral site in Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, down 3.5 points.  

On the one hand, the victory showed Georgia’s historically-dominant defense during the regular season was human, if not even vulnerable against a signal caller as accurate and creative as Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young. It also showed the limitations of Georgia’s run-first offense in coming back from a deficit against a team with a comparable amount of talent.

From the other perspective, it was just one game. Almost every team is bound to have a stinker where things don’t go their way; Georgia’s first and only instance may have just come at a poor time in the SEC Championship Game.

The Bulldogs lost, but they’ve been a more efficient team than the Crimson Tide on the season as a whole. Those two things are not mutually exclusive, and it’s the biggest reason why Georgia is still favored in the rematch — albeit to a suddenly dwindling degree. The Bulldogs seemed to be settled as a 3-point favorite after the semifinals, where Georgia’s 34-11 victory over Michigan as 7.5-point favorites was more dominant than Alabama’s 27-6 win over Cincinnati as 12.5-point favorites. But money has since come in to push it off the key number.

It might be a sign that public confidence in Alabama is stretching too far. The Crimson Tide had more advantages in the first matchup, namely from an injury perspective.

Wide receiver John Metchie was arguably their most valuable player in the first half before leaving with an injury that’s left him out for the rest of the season. The Crimson Tide are also dealing with cluster injuries in the offensive line and defensive backfield, meaning three major position groups are weakened from the first meeting.

The injury report was flipped the first time around, as Georgia was just getting some players back who missed the majority of the season including potential gamebreaking receiver George Pickens. The junior, who tore his ACL in a Peach Bowl win over Cincinnati last year, had a 37-yard reception against Alabama but hasn’t done much else since returning.

But maybe that’s because Georgia hasn’t need him to do much else. The win over the Wolverines was never competitive, and even the first Crimson Tide matchup, held smaller stakes for the Bulldogs.

It’s hard to buy into the talk that Georgia wasn’t properly motivated since they were already in the playoff, but it is possible the coaching staff didn’t open the full playbook and throw everything at Alabama once they fell behind. There’s no doubt they would do so this time.

Coaching is a concern as Nick Saban is far more proven and sharper than Kirby Smart, as his 4-0 straight-up record against his former assistant may indicate. But Georgia covered two of those games and was arguably the better team in both the 2017-2018 season’s national championship game and the 2018 SEC Championship Game.

Bad luck is an underrated factor for why the Bulldogs haven’t been able to get over the Crimson Tide hump yet. I was confident in taking Alabama +7 in the SEC Championship Game because I made Georgia only a 4-point favorite.  

Even if I liberally adjust a point off of that result while ignoring the aforementioned factors in Georgia’s favor this time around, I still can only get to Georgia -3 as the fair line. Such narrow value wouldn’t be a play most of the time, but this is the national championship. It’s different.

There should be no steadfast rules when it comes to hedging. I always suggest taking it on a case-by-case basis, so I must heed my own words here and take the risk.

Alabama may win again, but it's not the most likely outcome. There’s no value in +2.5.

Play: Georgia -2.5.

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or span data-cfemail="90f3f1e3f5befbf5f5f6f5e2d0fcf1e3e6f5f7f1e3"">>[email protected]sun.com.

Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or Filed Under: Las Vegas Sun

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