Last season ended with Alabama and Georgia playing one of the best national championship games in the history of college football, and one of the best games in the history of the College Football Playoff.
This year, they square off in the SEC Championship Game, with spots in the playoff and seeding for the playoff on the line.
Alabama comes into the SEC Championship Game as a 13-point favorite at BetOnline as they look to stay perfect on the season and knock Georgia out of playoff contention.
Alabama has averaged 49 points per game this season, which is good for second in the country behind only the Oklahoma Sooners. They have scored 50 or more points in eight of their 12 games this season, with two-thirds of their games seeing opponents give up a fifty-burger to the Tide.
The Crimson Tide average 205.9 yards per game on the ground, putting them at 32nd in the country in rushing this season. Alabama’s passing attack has been even better, ranking sixth in the nation this year, with the team moving the ball for 332.1 passing yards per game. Tua Tagovailoa is going to win the Heisman Trophy barring a complete catastrophe in this game, as he has completed over 70% of his passes and is averaging 11.86 yards per pass attempt for a team that hasn’t looked like it is capable of losing this season.
Unlike Oklahoma, the only team with a better scoring average than the Tide this season, Alabama actually plays defense, with their 13.8 points allowed per game ranking third in the country behind just Mississippi State and Fresno State. They have locked down some quality offenses this season, but Georgia could be the best offense that they play this season. Nick Saban’s squad will have to play their best defensive game of the season to avoid losing their shot at perfection.
Alabama will be in the College Football Playoff no matter what happens in this game, but they are playing for seeding in this game. A win would guarantee them the number one seed heading into the playoff, whereas a loss would probably see them drop to the third or fourth spot in the playoff rankings. That may not sound like it matters, but being able to play a weaker opponent in the semifinals could be the difference between being fresh for the title game and being exhausted and beatable.
Georgia SEC Championship Analysis
Georgia is 13th in the country in scoring offense this season, averaging 40.1 points per game. Only two teams have managed to hold the Bulldogs below 30 points on the season, with LSU and Auburn being the two squads capable of holding Kirby Smart’s offense in check.
The Bulldogs rank 11th in the country in rushing, averaging 259.8 yards per game on the ground. They are a less impressive 73rd in the country in passing yardage, averaging 221 yards per game. Those numbers could decline against one of the best defenses in the country, but with how well Alabama moves the ball, the Bulldogs might not be able to afford to see any slippage on offense.
Jake Fromm has completed an impressive 69.1% of his passes this season for an average of 9.60 yards per pass attempt. But the Bulldogs have simply prioritized the run more than the pass this season, with Georgia running the ball over 200 times more than they’ve thrown it this season. Against Alabama’s great defense, they may have to rely more heavily on Fromm, who has shown he can deliver in those situations.
Georgia has allowed 17.2 points per game this season, which is good for tenth in the country for the season. But they showed in last year’s national championship game that they are extremely vulnerable to the talents of Tua, and could be punished by the eventual Heisman winner once again on a big stage.
Working in Georgia’s favor is the fact that they have more time to prepare for Tagovailoa this time, as they had spent last year’s championship game prep getting ready for then-starting quarterback Jalen Hurts. There’s a reason that Kirby Smart’s name isn’t Kirby Dumb, and Georgia will hope that Smart can come up with an intelligent game plan to limit the biggest star in this game.
Alabama vs Georgia Trends
Alabama comes into this game a perfect 12-0 straight up on the season and 8-4 against the spread despite laying big point totals throughout the year. The Crimson Tide have covered in five of their last six games, including each of their last five games in SEC play. Their lone failure to beat the spread in their last six games came against The Citadel, where Alabama was tied at halftime. Against teams with a winning record, Alabama always comes to play, covering the spread in each of their last four games against squads over .500.
Georgia enters the SEC title game at 11-1 straight up on the season and 7-5 against the spread. Georgia also enters this game red-hot against the spread, going 4-1 against the spread in their last five games, and 4-0 against the spread in their last four games against teams with winning records. On neutral fields, the Bulldogs have been rock solid, covering the spread in each of their last six contests, including in last year’s national title game against Alabama
The Bulldogs really hurt their cause when they lost to an LSU team that fell apart late in the season, as they could have been one of the top three teams in the country heading into this game rather than being on the playoff bubble.
However, the Bulldogs are one of the best teams in the nation for a reason, and have proven that they can give Alabama all it can handle, as they were one blown coverage away from lifting last year’s trophy.
Expect them to give Alabama another tough game here, in what is virtually a home game in Atlanta. Georgia might not have enough to knock off Bama, but it’ll be a tight game throughout.
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