Can Dawgs Get National Title Payback Vs. Tide In SEC Championship?

alabama georgia

Jay Pryce

Tuesday, November 27, 2018 1:19 PM UTC

Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018 1:19 PM UTC

A dominating season by the Crimson Tide sees them laying a lot more points in the rematch. Which side of the spread are you on? Our pick and thoughts. 

SEC Championship Game: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 GeorgiaMercedes-Benz Stadium, AtlantaSaturday, 4 p.m. ET (CBS)Free NCAAF Pick: Dawgs ATSBest Line Offered: 5Dimes

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The 2018 SEC Championship Game and national championship rematch between No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Georgia is a must-win contest for the one-loss Bulldogs, as they look to earn an invite to the College Football Playoff in consecutive years. The undefeated Crimson Tide, which ranks in the top 10 nationally in nearly every key offensive and defensive metric, can afford a loss and still earn a bid.

What a difference a year makes, as evident in the betting market. This matchup witnessed Alabama kick off a 3.5-point favorite in its 26-23 thrilling overtime win last season for the national championship, the total set for a defensive battle at 47.0 points. The Crimson Tide are currently 13-point chalk for the rematch, up from a -10.5 opener.

The over/under 63 is the big surprise. Head coach Nick Saban fields easily his best offense ever behind star QB Tua Tagovailoa. The public is all-in for fireworks. As of publication, roughly 75 percent of the action is backing the ‘over.’

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Back to Atlanta, back to @MBStadium. #SECChampionship pic.twitter.com/6TvE1btnQr

— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) 27 de novembro de 2018
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Alabama, Tagovailoa Efficiency Off the Charts

Alabama’s 49.0 points per game is astronomical for Saban, dwarfing his previous 38.7 high for a season in 2012. For what it’s worth, the Crimson Tide rolled 42-14 over Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl that year to claim consecutive national championships. What makes the scoring number more impressive is the fact many first-team regulars play sporadically in the fourth quarter with Alabama typically nursing a sizeable lead. Saban’s squad posts an eye-opening 0.703 points per play.

The difference is Tagovailoa. The sophomore southpaw returns to the site where it all began, replacing Jalen Hurts after halftime in the national championship game and guiding a second-half comeback. The Heisman favorite nabbed his third SEC Offensive Player of the Week honor for 2018 with a 324 yard and school-record six touchdown performance in Alabama’s 52-21 Iron Bowl victory last Saturday. Tagovailoa, and Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, are presently each atop the FBS-record 198.9 passing efficiency rating set by Baker Mayfield last season.

Bulldogs Lack Scoring Bite

Statistically speaking, the Bulldogs are not far off from their numbers last year both offensively and defensively. The concern for the rematch is whether they can match Alabama stride for stride on the scoreboard. Market conditions and past results suggest the task will be difficult.

Georgia has kicked off the betting underdog seven times behind head coach Kirby Smart, most coming his first year in charge of the program (2016). The team averages 20.3 points per game, 2.7 below projections. The bruising rushing attack is tempered under these conditions, held to 151.4 yards on 39.9 carries. To put this in perspective, Georgia rumbles for 253.5 yards on 42.7 rushes, and averages 36.0 points when the betting favorite under Smart.

‘Over’ Trending

Since 2006, neutral-site SEC encounters have seen the ‘over’ go 22-8 (73.3 percent). This trend is partly due to Alabama’s propensity to push the scoring limits under Saban on fair soil. The Crimson Tide are 21-7-1 (75.0 percent) cashing the ‘over’ all-time under his guidance on neutral grounds, the team surpassing its projected team total in 22 matchups overall.

Best Bet

Revenge, a must-win scenario, and oodles of points make Georgia an appealing bet against the spread. Alabama has looked human at times the last few weeks, particularly in the first halves of the Citadel and Auburn games. Saban blamed the lack of execution and mental errors on late-season fatigue while addressing the media Monday.

Rest is the only fix, and the Tide are likely drained after the Iron Bowl rivalry. The Bulldogs are the best team Alabama has faced all season, have a stronger secondary than last year, and a more seasoned QB with Jake Fromm. Georgia’s defense keeps it closer than expected. Take the points.

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