College Football Playoff National Championship Analytics Preview: Will Georgia Snap Streak vs. Alabama?
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: Chris Owens (79) and Brian Robinson Jr. (4).
- Sharp and big money has been pouring on Georgia, but should we back the Bulldogs?
- The Bulldogs have lost seven straight games against the Crimson Tide.
- Here's how the analytics would bet the College Football Playoff National Championship.
On Monday night, the Georgia Bulldogs will try to snap a seven-game losing streak against the Alabama Crimson Tide.
The Tide have been the stuff of every Georgia fan’s nightmares for the last 14 years. Nick Saban has broken Bulldogs fans’ hearts in every way possible, from a 28-point beatdown in Athens to a crushing overtime defeat in their last National Championship appearance. To Bulldog fans, Saban is truly the boogeyman.
Despite the losing streak and a previous loss to Alabama in the National Championship, Georgia is currently favored by three points.
According to the Action Network’s PRO signals, the Bulldogs also have sharp and big money pouring in. Also, according to our PRO projections, Georgia should be a 3.2-point favorite. So, we should all back the Bulldogs, right?
Saban has a unique ability to turn opponents’ strengths into weaknesses, especially when playing his former assistants.
In the regular season, Georgia’s defense ranked ninth in Havoc. In the SEC Championship, it managed five tackles for loss but zero sacks. In response, Bryce Young threw for 421 yards and scored four total touchdowns on 9.5 yards per pass. This was undoubtedly a shock to a team that finished first in EPA/Play and first in Success Rate against the pass in the regular season.
On the defensive side, Saban had Stetson Bennett seeing ghosts. Georgia was forced to throw on 63% of its offensive snaps in Atlanta. It generated a dreadful -0.08 EPA/Play with two interceptions, and one of those was returned for a touchdown.
Bennett was also sacked three times, once by Will Anderson Jr. Anderson will be the best player on the field Monday, regardless of position.
I’m imploring you not to overthink this.
Sometimes the noise surrounding these games is so loud that it’s easy to overlook what is right in front of you. Yes, it’s difficult to beat a team twice in one season, especially one as talented as Georgia. However, Saban is not a normal football coach, and Alabama is not a normal football program.
The first meeting was not particularly close, and I don’t have faith in Kirby Smart being able to come up with a game plan to force a different result.
Don’t overthink this: Alabama has the better coach, the better quarterback, the better offense and has a defense that has already proven it can cause chaos against Georgia.
If none of that convinced you: Since the 2008 season, Saban is 5-1 straight up in games in which he is an underdog. Don’t feed this man or his team rat poison.
I see this game going eerily similar to the SEC Championship. Alabama will go up early, force Bennett to throw and then run up the score.
Picks: Alabama ML +125 · Alabama TT Over 24.5