Georgia vs. Alabama Odds, Picks and Predictions: 2 Ways to Bet Saturday’s SEC Championship Game (Dec. 4)
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images. Pictured: Zamir White (left) and James Cook (right).
- The No. 3-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide enter Saturday's SEC Championship game as underdogs for the first time in 92 consecutive Alabama football games.
- Georgia opened as a 4-point favorite, and that point spread has moved to Georgia -6.5 as of writing. Despite recent offensive showcases in previous SEC Championships, this year's game total remains low, around 48.5.
- Below, Collin Wilson previews Saturday's SEC Championship matchup, including updated odds, picks and predictions for Georgia vs. Alabama.
Georgia vs. Alabama Odds
-105o / -115u
-105o / -115u
Alabama has been favored in 164 games of a possible 165 since the 2009 season. The one instance of being an underdog came in 2015 against top-10 Georgia squad, as the Bulldogs were favored by a single point.
Head coach Nick Saban throttled Georgia to the tune of 38-10, as the Crimson Tide continued their ways as a dominant force in college football.
Much of Alabama's success goes back to the best defensive coordinators in the nation, as Kirby Smart left Saban's staff for Georgia and has already produced an SEC Championship.
Saban took a loss to Jimbo Fisher and Texas A&M earlier this season, bringing the mark to 24-1 when the Alabama coach takes on former assistants. Smart will now look to be the second assistant to notch a victory over his former boss.
In order for Georgia to lock up the No. 1 seed in the playoff, the defense must deal with the Heisman frontrunner in Bryce Young. Smart was quoted as saying he is the best point guard in college football, representing the biggest challenge Georgia's defense has seen to date.
There may not be a single flaw in the Georgia defense, posting numbers that would make this unit one of the best over the past decade.
The 3-3-5 scheme is the best defense in the nation at Finishing Drives, coverage, defending the explosive play, Passing Success Rate and tackle grading.
What is even more impressive is that no single defensive player ranks in the top 50 for tackles for loss or pass breakups, signifying this is a true team effort.
Former Clemson Tiger, Derion Kendrick sniffs out the HB dump off pass and stops it for a negative gain pic.twitter.com/YupzAXtz80
— Tyler Browning (@DiabeticTyler) October 3, 2021
A number of teams, including Arkansas above, have tried to stretch the field from sideline to sideline against the Bulldogs. That tactic has been an inefficacious style to attack the fastest defense in the nation, as Georgia has put opponents in an average third down distance of 7.8 yards to go.
The Bulldogs have three defenders who rank in the top 200 in pass-rush productivity and four members of the secondary who rank top-200 in coverage grading.
This is a lockdown unit that does not allow completions to turn into explosive plays. A trio of safeties in Dan Jackson, Christopher Smith and Lewis Cine all rank top-30 in yards per reception when targeted.
The revelation on offense is the emergence of Stetson Bennett and his ability to limit mistakes. After posting 10 touchdowns to seven interceptions the previous two seasons, Bennett has 21 touchdowns to just five interceptions this season.
The quarterback speaks often about a heightened level of comfort in pressured dropbacks and decision-making in when to leave the pocket. The quarterback has nearly 300 yards rushing with 149 of them on designed runs this season.
One element that has changed with Georgia is chunk plays, more than doubling the national average in explosive drive percentage.
Stetson Bennett: Highest graded QB in two minute drill situations this season (94.9) pic.twitter.com/P5iafeJdck
— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) December 1, 2021
Before coordinator Todd Monken came to Athens, Georgia had issues finding an identity in the passing game. The Bulldogs are fourth in Passing Downs Success Rate and have a top-25 air attack when it comes to the explosive pass.
Now, the Bulldogs have multiple running backs to slow a game down and a passing attack to jump into a two-minute drill. Although Georgia is 113th in plays per minute, that number is a bit deceiving with the amount of rushing plays called in blowout games.
Through a full regular season of play, oddsmakers are still charging 2020 prices on the 2021 Crimson Tide squad. Alabama closed as near three-touchdown favorites in consecutive weeks against Arkansas and Auburn, needing heroics at the end of both games to escape defeat.
The defense had a masterful game in Jordan-Hare, stuffing Auburn on 73% of rushing attempts and allowing just three plays from scrimmage to exceed 20 yards.
That same defense stuffed Arkansas on almost 50% of attempts but failed to contain KJ Jefferson in passing downs. Arkansas nearly doubled the national average for methodical drives because it owned the Tide in passing downs.
The defense deserves only minimal blame for the past two weeks, as the offensive line has Bryce Young scrambling for his lungs.
Bryce Young SACKED 😳
Auburn defense shutting out Alabama
— Bleacher Report CFB (@BR_CFB) November 27, 2021
Before the Iron Bowl, Saban remarked there would be no further changes to the offensive line. Chris Owens, Darrian Dalcourt and Damieon George Jr. continue to post subpar grades in both rush and pass blocking.
The Crimson Tide are now outside the top 70 in Rushing Success Rate, Havoc Allowed and Line Yards.
In a very un-Alabama-like fashion, the offensive line ranks 111th in tackles for loss and 129th in Passing Downs Sack Rate. With offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien soon to be headed out of Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide will continue to mask issues in the trench in the SEC Championship game.
Another potential issue for the Tide is the health of the backfield. Jase McClellan and Roydell Williams are out for the season, while workhorse Brian Robinson Jr. is listed as questionable for this game.
If Robinson is unable to go in the SEC Championship game, Alabama is looking at a backfield of just Trey Sanders. The sophomore running back has just 50 carries on the season with a low 2.5 yards after contact.
Georgia vs. Alabama Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Georgia and Alabama match up statistically:
Georgia Offense vs. Alabama Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Alabama Offense vs. Georgia Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||32||25|
|Plays per Minute||113||59|
|Rush Rate||59.8% (31)||50.3% (96)|
Georgia vs. Alabama Betting Pick
Alabama's rushing game may be nonexistent for the SEC Championship Game due to injury. The point of having a ground game may be moot against a Georgia defense that shuts down any rushing attack and consistently puts opponents in passing downs.
If Alabama is to win this game, Young must seal the Heisman Trophy by having the quickest release in college football. Kirby Smart was cognizant that Young has continually improved his release time in passing attempts.
ALABAMA WINS THE IRON BOWL IN THE 4TH OVERTIME pic.twitter.com/TObJVCaydp
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) November 28, 2021
An average quarterback release time in college football is 2.5 seconds, with hurry-up no-huddle offenses going faster and teams with great pass blocking allowing quarterbacks to hold the ball longer.
Young has attempted a heavy amount of passes under two seconds as the season goes along, posting one of his highest QB ratings at 1.5 seconds of release time.
The Alabama Defensive Finishing Drives rank of 89th cannot be ignored. The Crimson Tide have allowed any opposing offense that crosses the 40-yard line to put points on the board. Of the 26 red-zone scores against the Tide, 18 of them have been touchdowns, putting Alabama at 70th in red-zone touchdown percentage.
The Action Network projects this game at Georgia -7, giving value to any Bulldogs number under a touchdown. The total is projected at 51, but with the circumstances in this game, there could be more scoring than expected.
Georgia holds a large Finishing Drives advantage over the Tide. Considering Young has no running game to help on offense, the passing game with a release point under two seconds might be the Tide's only strategy to stay in this game.