For the first time in 72 consecutive games the college football odds makers have made the Alabama Crimson Tide underdogs as they travel to play the Georgia Bulldogs. Let's analyze this matchup.
Normally we look to previous head-to-head matchups to give us insight into how a game will go and which side, if any, has enough of an edge to make them worth backing in our college football picks. But these two college powerhouses haven't met in a regular season contest in seven years and the last time they did meet was in the 2012 SEC title game that saw Eddie Lacy lead the Tide to a 32-28 victory in the Georgia Dome. Therefore, any stats I could throw at you would be worthless as there are very few players remaining from that 2012 thriller.
But what we do have is a recent common opponent in the University of Louisiana-Monroe that willingly obliged to be the sacrificial lamb for both schools and is now the ideal barometer in which to gauge how these two squads compare. Perhaps it is best to hear it directly from the horse's mouth and for that we turn to the Warhawks' safety Tre' Hunter and wideout Ajalen Holley. Hunter offered the following on the respective offenses:
"Alabama is a little bit more versatile, as in the pass game is outside of the box," Hunter said of the Tide offense. "Georgia is light inside of the box. Alabama can spread you out. Playing in space is always hard. For skilled guys and linemen, playing in space is always hard. There is a bit more to think about than gearing up for box plays."
Holley then spoke about the what the differences between the defenses.
"Alabama's defense is a lot bigger," he said. "Georgia's defense is a lot faster. That's as good as I can give you right there."
But when pressed Holley went further.
"When it comes to running the ball, I feel like we could be on the edge a little better against Alabama," Holley said. "When it comes to Georgia, we couldn't, because they're a faster outside defense. When it comes to getting downhill, I feel like Alabama is better at filling the gap than Georgia is, because they're bigger. Their defensive line can fill gaps better than Georgia. That's from my perspective."
The Bulldogs beat the Warhawks 51-14 in their season opener and four weeks later the Tide defense positively smothered Louisiana-Monroe in a 34-0 victory that looked great for everyone on the Bama side of things except those who backed them as 38-point favorites. The college football odds makers gave the Tide bettors just enough rope to hang themselves and it had nothing to do with the suffocating defense and everything to do with the erratic offense led by Jake Coker and his not so reliable targets.
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This will essentially boil down to Georgia's Nick Chubb (8.4 yards per carry and six touchdowns) versus the Bama run stop defense and Jake Coker's aerial attack versus Georgia's pass defense. The Bulldogs have the home field advantage in this one and are ranked higher in rushing yards (17th vs. 46th), points scored (22nd vs. 72nd) and points against (13th vs. 25th). The only major statistical category that favors the Tide is passing yards (42nd vs. 66th) but that disparity is not nearly as wide as it should be considering Alabama's reliance on Coker's arm.
The bottom line is that Jake Coker does not look ready for primetime and neither do his receivers. The Crimson Tide defense looks immense but they will not be able to keep plugging the dike if their offense cannot chew up possession time and put points on the scoreboard. The problem for Bama is that Georgia boasts a fine defense of their own. There's a reason why Nick Saban's crew is the underdog in this one and it's because Georgia is just that good on both sides of the ball - and not just one.
College Football Pick: Play Georgia -2 ½ (-110) at GTBets