College Football Odds, Best Bets: Our Top 8 Picks for Monday’s Alabama vs. Georgia National Championship Game
Ryan Collinsworth/The Action Network.
It feels like just yesterday that Illinois was beating Nebraska in the first Power Five game of Week 0. Now, four-and-a-half short months later, only two college football teams are still playing.
Alabama and Georgia have proven to be two of the best teams in the country all season, and the rivalry only heated up when the Crimson Tide toppled the top-ranked Bulldogs in the SEC Championship on Dec. 4.
Now with only one game remaining in the season — an SEC title game rematch nonetheless — we’re obligated to place our final bets, right? Our staff came prepared, hand-picking their eight favorite bets for Monday’s National Championship game.
From spread bets and totals to moneyline plays and player props, we have it all. So, check out all eight of our top plays for Alabama vs. Georgia below — and thanks for riding along with us this season.
Let’s make this last night a memorable one.
Our 8 Best National Championship Bets
The table below represents each pick that our college football staff is targeting for Monday’s National Championship. Click a pick below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
|BJ Cunningham||Georgia ML -135|
|Kody Malstrom||Georgia ML -140|
|Mike McNamara||Georgia -3|
|Shawn Burns||Alabama +3|
|Patrick Strollo||Over 52|
|Darin Gardner||James Cook Over 20.5 Receiving Yards|
|Alex Kolodziej||Jermaine Burton Under 36.5 Receiving Yards|
|Kyle Remillard||Brian Robinson Jr. Over 64.5 Rushing Yards|
|Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAF Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.|
Alabama vs. Georgia
Alabama ran the ball all over Cincinnati’s defense in the Cotton Bowl for a staggering 301 yards and 6.7 yards per carry.
The Tide won’t have that type of success against Georgia, as they ran the ball only 26 times at 4.4 yards per carry, and a lot of that was because of quarterback Bryce Young.
Brian Robinson Jr. may have had over 200 yards against the Bearcats, but against Georgia’s front seven, he had only 55 yards on 16 carries with a 44% Rushing Success Rate, which is around the national average.
So, Georgia should once again be able to shut down Alabama’s rushing attack. But the question is, can it slow down Young? The Heisman Trophy winner averaged 9.6 yards per attempt and tossed seven passes that went for 20-plus yards, which is not something we were used to seeing from a Georgia team that had the best coverage grade in the nation, per PFF.
The biggest thing for Georgia is it has to put pressure on Young and make him uncomfortable.
Young is so good both when he has a clean pocket and when he’s blitzed, averaging over 8.5 yards per attempt while owning an adjusted completion percentage over 74% and a PFF passing grade over 90.
However, when he’s under pressure, his adjusted completion percentage drops to 66.7%, and his passing grade drops to 61.9.
What is most surprising about the SEC Championship game is that Georgia pressured Young 18 times, which is close to the number of times Auburn and Texas A&M got to him. But Georgia didn’t record a single sack in the game, which was the first time all season the Bama quarterback wasn’t sacked.
Obviously, the Alabama game plan in the Cotton Bowl was to run the ball, but Young didn’t have the best game. He averaged only 6.5 yards per attempt and had a 61.3 PFF passing grade, both of which were his lowest marks of the season.
It could have had something to do with how good Cincinnati’s secondary was this season, along with the fact he was without one of his top targets in John Metchie III.
Stetson Bennett made a few two many mistakes against Alabama in the SEC Championship but rebounded in the Orange Bowl, averaging 10.5 yards per attempt.
He will need to attack the Alabama secondary if Georgia is going to win this game because that is where the Tide are most vulnerable, ranking outside the top 40 in both Passing Success Rate and explosiveness allowed.
I have Georgia projected as a -5.4 favorite, so I like the value on its moneyline at -135.
Pick: Georgia ML -135
Georgia ML -140
I will not let Charles Barkley guaranteeing a Georgia win discourage me. I will not let Nick Saban arriving in a leather jacket that I wish I could pull off discourage me. Georgia is going to win this game.
Don’t let the SEC Championship game fool you — this is a whole different game.
Georgia is, and always has been, the clear-cut No. 1 team in the nation this year. It came in hobbled and got punched in the mouth early against Alabama in the SEC Championship and was unable to recover.
This time around? The Georgia defense is healthy, and Alabama has some injury questions on its line. Oh, how the tables have turned.
A big reason for Georgia’s loss was its inability to pressure Bryce Young. With what is one of the best defensive lines in college football history, it was just a step too slow last time out. It can’t afford to make this same mistake, as Young is one of the most efficient quarterbacks with a quick and accurate release.
With the offensive line facing some questionable injuries, I believe the best defensive line in the nation finds more success in getting to Young this time around.
Alabama’s run game has been pedestrian this season and would be tough to fall back on if the passing attack gets shut down.
On the other side, Georgia’s offense looked crisp against Michigan, which I touted as a great defense that would give the Dawgs fits.
Stetson Bennett looked calm and collected and hit his receivers in stride in a confidence-builder leading up to this game.
Oh well, Michigan, I was wrong. If I always made the right choice, I’d be skinnier and wealthier.
With Georgia’s offense firing on all cylinders and a defense with a chip on its shoulder in a revenge spot, I will be taking the Bulldogs to win outright in what will be their first national title since 1980.
Pick: Georgia ML -140
Once and for all, it is time. Time for Kirby Smart to finally beat his former boss. Time for Georgia to avenge the 2018 national title game. Time for the Bulldogs to win their first National Championship since 1980.
In the SEC Championship game, the Dawgs were put on their heels early and could not rebound as the game went on. Stetson Bennett and the Georgia offense were forced to play from behind, something it had not done all season.
On Monday night, I expect the script to play out much differently. Look for Smart to make some adjustments in how he chooses to defend Bryce Young and the Alabama passing attack.
Brian Robinson will not be able to have anywhere near the rushing success he had against Cincinnati.
Lastly and most importantly, I expect Bennett and the Georgia offense to be much more efficient this time out.
Bennett will take better care of the football, and tight end Brock Bowers should be in for another big night after going for 10 catches and 139 yards in the SEC title game.
Georgia has the personnel necessary to beat Saban and Alabama. It’s now about going out and doing it on the biggest stage.
Bulldog fans have been put through heartbreak time and time again since 1980. On Monday night, that all changes. I’m laying the three with Georgia in a game I think the Dawgs could win comfortably.
Pick: Georgia -3
By Shawn Burns
Alabama has taken down Georgia seven straight times, including just last month in the SEC Championship game as six-point underdogs.
Georgia had no answer for Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, who torched the Bulldogs for over 400 yards and three touchdowns in the 41-24 victory.
In the Tide’s semifinal win over Cincinnati, running back Brian Robinson Jr. led the way with over 200 yards rushing. Robinson played against Georgia in their first matchup but was nursing an injury and will be much healthier for the rematch.
Young will need to rely on Robinson and star receiver Jameson Williams against a great Bulldogs defense out for redemption.
The Crimson Tide defense completely shut down Cincinnati a week ago, holding it to 218 yards of total offense. Alabama’s defense is playing at an elite level and finds itself ranked sixth in the country in total defense and allowing only 2.53 yards per rushing attempt, which is second in the country behind only Wisconsin.
Georgia dismantled Michigan last week and might have played its best game of the season in the process. It jumped on the Wolverines immediately, and Michigan just didn’t have the firepower to keep up.
The Bulldogs are as good as it gets defensively, allowing nine points per game, which ranked first in the country by a wide margin.
With the exception of Alabama, the Bulldogs have dominated every opponent this season.
These are the two most talented teams in the nation, and you can make an argument for both. But the difference is Alabama has Saban and Young.
Georgia will play much better defensively, but Young will make enough plays to give the Tide the advantage. Alabama wins its second consecutive title Monday night in Indianapolis.
Pick: Alabama +3
No. 1 Alabama (13-1) comes into the National Championship game against No. 3 Georgia (13-1) as a 2.5-point underdog as the two Goliaths clash for the second time this season.
Motivation is always the X-factor in games with massive implications, and there are plenty of motivating factors for both teams heading into this national title rematch.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban is a master motivator and loves to take hold of any popular narratives that the media is using to focus his Crimson Tide. In the SEC Championship against Georgia last month, it was “yummy rat poison” that he wordsmithed after entering the game as an underdog.
Once again, the Crimson Tide enter this game as underdogs. Look for Saban to harness this narrative all over again.
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart will have plenty of motivating material to work with this time around after Georgia’s perfect season came to an end at the hands of Alabama in the SEC title game.
The 41-24 drubbing led to the formerly top-ranked Bulldogs having to answer a number of questions about their vaunted defense, their quarterback situation and their SEC East schedule.
Expect Georgia to be supremely motivated to finish the season on a strong note in the face of adversity.
Both teams enter the game fielding excellent defenses. Georgia has the top-ranked scoring defense in the nation, allowing only 9.6 points per game. In its College Football Playoff semifinal game, Georgia gave up only 11 points to Michigan.
Alabama has an excellent defense as well. The Crimson Tide rank 13th nationally in scoring offense, giving up 19.2 points per game. The Alabama defense held a potent Group of Five Cincinnati squad to just six points.
While both schools possess excellent defenses, their offenses are just as capable. The last time these two teams met, the total closed at 48.5, and the programs combined for 65 points.
Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner, leads a Crimson Tide offense that ranks third in the nation in scoring offense, putting up an average of 41.4 points per game.
Georgia ranks ninth in the nation in scoring offense, putting up an average of 39 points per game under respected quarterback Stetson Bennett.
The two powerhouse offenses will once again dictate the outcome of the game.
Both teams will be extremely motivated in this game. I expect a strong offensive performance from both teams that are intimately familiar with how to prepare for one another.
Alabama will work outside of the tackles again, using Young’s arm for short routes to keep Georgia’s linebackers honest. The Bulldogs will need an error-free game from Bennett, who has had a tendency to make errant throws under pressure.
Alabama knows it has to avoid Georgia’s elite defensive line and will lean on the pass just as it did in the SEC Championship game.
Georgia knows that Alabama can shut down its power running game and will rely on Bennett to play a disciplined game as he did against Michigan.
I expect this game to be an aerial affair from the start. Passing will be plentiful in this game, which bodes well for the over because of clock stoppages.
Pick: Over 52
James Cook Over 20.5 Receiving Yards
There are a few reasons I like James Cook to be a difference-maker in the passing game on Monday night.
One is his usage in this offense, as he’s leading the Georgia backfield in targets, receptions and yards on the year.
He also sees the majority of the passing game snaps among the running backs, with Cook being in on 161 passing snaps this season, as opposed to 93 apiece for fellow backs Zamir White and Kenny McIntosh, per PFF.
Overall, he’s fourth on the team in receptions and fifth in receiving yards.
Georgia played in a lot of blowouts this year, and as a result, it was able to really spread the workload around in its backfield.
But what about in high-leverage games when it wasn’t in cruise control? There weren’t many examples of that this year for the Dawgs, but in the SEC Championship, Cook led the Georgia backfield in snaps by 10 and tied for second on the team in targets.
Then, there’s the matchup with Alabama’s linebackers in coverage. The Tide primarily play with two linebackers on the field, and those two are Henry To’oTo’o and Christian Harris.
Among the 249 linebackers with 200 or more snaps in coverage this year, this duo ranks 230th and 208th, respectively, in PFF coverage grade. As a team, Alabama ranks 89th in Success Rate Allowed on running back targets.
Most teams have found out the hard way that continuing to line up and pound the rock against this Alabama front is usually a waste of time.
If Georgia is going to get it done on offense, it’s going to need to find some edges in the passing game, and Cook should be one of the beneficiaries of that as the go-to target out of the backfield and with his big edge against these Alabama linebackers in coverage.
Pick: James Cook Over 20.5 Receiving Yards
Jermaine Burton Under 36.5 Receiving Yards
I’m fading Burton against Alabama’s secondary.
Georgia’s top home-run hitter (team-high 19.5 yards per catch this season) got loose for a 57-yard strike against Michigan, but it was more of a busted play by Michigan’s cornerback.
The Crimson Tide may be dealing with injuries in the back end, but they’re not getting beat deep. They ranked top-10 nationally in yards per catch allowed (10.7) this season and were completely content with Burton eating up intermediate passes a few weeks ago, coughing up three catches for just 36 yards.
Plus, Brock Bowers will likely get double-digit targets, and George Pickens is back healthy on the outside. If running back James Cook continues to participate more in the passing game, that’s just another mouth to feed.
Burton likely needs a handful of grabs to go smash the total. He’s not a volume guy by any means (more than three catches once all year), so I’m pleased taking the under at this number.
Pick: Jermaine Burton Under 36.5 Receiving Yards
Brian Robinson Jr. Over 64.5 Rushing Yards
During the first round of the College Football Playoff, we hit an under on a rushing prop, and now we’re going right back to it for the National Championship.
It’s been proven time and again that teams can’t run the ball against Georgia. The Bulldogs have allowed an average of 82 rushing yards per game while letting up just 2.7 yards per carry.
In the first matchup in the SEC Championship, Alabama destroyed Georgia through the air, as Bryce Young threw for over 420 yards while averaging nearly 10 yards per pass attempt.
Georgia will likely be focusing on the Alabama passing attack, which may leave itself a bit vulnerable against the run.
Brian Robinson Jr. has seen his workload increase as the season has progressed. Through the first three games, Robinson averaged just 12 carries for 70 rushing yards. Over his last 10 games, he has averaged over 21 rush attempts and put up nearly 107 rushing yards per game.
In the first matchup, there were concerns that Robinson wouldn’t play because of a leg injury. He still carried the ball 16 times for 55 yards. Now, he enters this matchup fully healthy, and I anticipate Bill O’Brien will feed him early and often with this being his final game in uniform.
This number has dropped significantly after opening in the 80s, which has opened up value on the over.