Georgia vs Alabama Picks, Odds: Bet This 1Q Total
James Gilbert/Getty Images. Pictured: Carson Beck of the Georgia Bulldogs.
Georgia Bulldogs vs Alabama Crimson Tide Odds
The SEC Championship game generally comes with the caveat that both teams can still make the College Football Playoff. In nine years of the selection committee choosing participants for the national semifinal, the SEC has been granted two spots twice.
Ironically, both Georgia and Alabama were selected in 2017 and 2021, as both programs advanced to the national title game.
Because there are seven legitimate cases to make the playoff, the loser of the SEC Championship is expected to exit the national stage for a New Year's Six Bowl.
Georgia had the easier path to Atlanta, collecting a strength of schedule rank of 59th.
With a new coordinator and quarterback, the Georgia offense took shape midseason. The Bulldogs rattled off over 130 points in three games during October, while questions continued to persist around a defense that has not looked the part of the previous teams that won two consecutive national titles.
Alabama had struggles to start the season, implementing a new offensive coordinator with no answers at quarterback. After a sluggish Week 3 victory over South Florida, head coach Nick Saban named his quarterback before the Crimson Tide went on to sweep the SEC schedule.
Now, Saban must take on his old defensive coordinator in Georgia head coach Kirby Smart.
The Crimson Tide had won seven straight in this series, but Smart got the best of his former boss with a win in the 2022 national title game.
The stakes could not be higher for the SEC Championship game, with the winner advancing to the playoff and the loser finding a home among the non-semifinal bowls.
Read on for my Georgia vs. Alabama pick for Saturday's college football SEC Championship.
The 2023 version of Georgia entered the season with an incredibly high standard after winning two consecutive national titles.
The offense has exceeded any expectations despite the move to offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and quarterback Carson Beck. The pair has led one of the most efficient offenses nationally, ranking top-10 in Success Rate.
Georgia leads the FBS in offensive momentum killer, a statistic that measures how often a team is responsible for ending a possession.
Carson Beck 3rd Down conversions vs Tennessee
3rd and 7
3rd and 6
3rd and 5
3rd and 6
3rd and 12
3rd and 7
3rd and 3
3rd and 2 pic.twitter.com/EhFT7l2Ukn
— Back2Back 704 Dawg ➐ (@FSFRecruits) November 20, 2023
Bobo prefers a balanced offense, setting up deep play-action passes with the rush.
Running back Daijun Edwards leads the team in yards and touchdowns, while Kendall Milton averages more than four yards after contact. No matter if the run concept is inside or outside zone, Georgia has dominated every opponent's defensive front.
Beck has been one of the most accurate passers in college football, ranking seventh in catchable throw rate.
The stable of targets for the Bulldogs is loaded with players averaging more than the explosive mark of two yards per route run, including slot Dominic Lovett, tight end Brock Bowers, wideout Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint and Ladd McConkey.
The questions surround the defense in Smart's quest to win a third consecutive title.
The Bulldogs' dominant defense has been the primary driver of the previous two national title runs. The numbers have tailed off in 2023, including a dip in Success Rate against the run and a slip in Havoc outside the top 50.
The biggest change is the ability to defend the end zone in opponent scoring opportunities. Georgia has allowed an average of 3.5 points on 50 opponent possessions that have crossed the Bulldogs' 40-yard line.
Alabama survived the Iron Bowl on a last-second heave by quarterback Jalen Milroe, softening the blow of the Kick-Six loss a decade before.
This may have been the most chaos-filled schedule for a one-loss team contending for the national title, as the Tide beat Arkansas, Texas A&M and Auburn by a combined 12 points.
Alabama has been powered by the defense, specifically a secondary that ranks second in coverage, per PFF.
Coordinator Kevin Steele uses his 3-3-5 personnel to pivot between quarters, Cover 1 and Cover 3. No matter what the Crimson Tide flash in the secondary, the defense comes in above the national average in Success Rate and limiting explosives against opposing offenses.
The rush defense has also been a primary driver, exceeding a 60% Success Rate against offenses attempting to run inside and outside zone.
The fault in the Alabama defense is similar to that of Georgia — its Finishing Drives mark continues to slide as the season progresses.
However, Alabama ranks 21st in Defensive Quality Drives, often preventing teams from reaching a scoring opportunity in the first place.
The offense, meanwhile, has been nothing but organized chaos the entire season. Alabama ranks 76th in Havoc Allowed, a measurement of opponent's tackles for loss and pass breakups.
The Crimson Tide have struggled to keep defenders from blitzing Milroe all season, as the quarterback has one of the highest pressure-to-sack ratios at 30%.
While teams may have the ability to flush Milroe from the pocket, there may be no better downfield passer in college football.
— Collin Wilson (@_Collin1) November 26, 2023
Milroe has better passing splits on the deep ball than short routes, throwing 15 touchdowns to a single interception on attempts over 20 yards.
More importantly, Milroe has logged 23 big-time throws and no turnover-worthy plays on explosive pass attempts. The quarterback has excelled in efficiency and expected points against Cover 3.
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Georgia and Alabama match up statistically:
Georgia Offense vs. Alabama Defense
Alabama Offense vs. Georgia Defense
Pace of Play / Other
|Special Teams SP+
|Seconds per Play
The point spread has not mattered over several head-to-head matchups between Georgia and Alabama. The game has been decided by less than a touchdown just once since 2008 — an overtime affair in the 2018 national title game.
The key question is if the inefficiencies of the defenses can be exposed by the opposing offenses.
Alabama prefers to rush on 63% of snaps with a heavy tendency toward inside zone concepts. The Georgia defense leads the nation in efficiency against inside zone, posting a 65% Success Rate and rarely allowing an explosive play.
Not only does Georgia have the ability to stop the Alabama rush, but Milroe's stellar deep ball will be contested. The Bulldogs have allowed just three catches of 40 yards or more the entire season.
On the other side, the Alabama defense has dominated inside zone all season. The only run concept that has seen mid-FBS success against the Crimson Tide is power, a rushing concept used on just 30 snaps by Georgia all season.
The bigger question is if Beck will connect with the explosive targets on the Bulldogs' roster. The junior's greatest success has come in 244 plays against Cover 3.
Alabama has dominated with Cover 3 in the secondary, posting a negative number in EPA per Play.
With so many defensive advantages for each team, the under has been the play early in the market.
If history is any indication of how Alabama and Georgia will play out, scoring will be light during first few possessions. These teams have met four times since 2018 in the SEC or National Championship, and those four games have seen a grand total of 13 points in the first quarter.
Action Network projects Georgia -4, giving value to Alabama in the current market.
The better bet, though, is on a sluggish start for both offenses. The Crimson Tide average the least amount of points in the first quarter on the season, while the Bulldogs have a larger contrast, averaging 6.8 points in the first quarter to 14.5 in the second.
Unless the special teams or defensive units decide to take a mistake to the house, look for this game to start with a grind.
Pick: 1Q Under 10.5
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