In a repeat of last year’s national championship game, the no. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide will face the no. 4 Georgia Bulldogs in the 2018 SEC Championship Game. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:00 EST on Saturday, December 1, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, the site of last year’s title game between the two teams. The game is being broadcast nationally on CBS.
Alabama has opened the week as 13-point favorites. The over/under for the game is set at 63.5 points. Be sure to check out a full list of the Week 14 college football odds.
After missing out on last year’s SEC title game, the Crimson Tide are back where they belong. Nick Saban’s team has run the table, going 12-0 and winning every game by at least 22 points. Of course, many are assuming that the Crimson Tide will win this game and claim the top seed in the College Football Playoff. However, there is a chance that Alabama could lose to Georgia and still make the top-4. That being said, after missing out on playing in last year’s SEC Championship Game, the Crimson Tide should be hungry to be back in Atlanta and win their fourth conference title in the last five years.
Georgia, on the other hand, is under a little bit more pressure heading into this game. The Bulldogs are 11-1 and cruised through the SEC East for the second straight season. However, with three undefeated teams ahead of them in the CFP standings and some hungry 1-loss teams right behind them, the Bulldogs can’t afford to lose and remain in the top-4. Georgia knows they have to win in order to keep their national title hopes alive. They also have an SEC title to defend after beating Auburn in the conference championship game last year.
Of course, the Bulldogs will also have redemption on their mind. Georgia was so close to beating Alabama in last year’s title game but ended up losing a heartbreaker in overtime. Just in case the Bulldogs needed any extra motivation, that loss should provide some. It’s also worth mentioning that Georgia head coach Kirby Smart spent nine years as an assistant to Saban at Alabama. Saban has never been beaten by one of his former assistants, adding to the mountain that Smart and the Bulldogs have to climb on Saturday.
There’s nothing harder than eating this many points in a conference title game between a pair of top-5 teams. But if you’ve seen Alabama play this season, you know it’s the right move. I do believe that Georgia is one of the few teams that can challenge Alabama and give them trouble. But I still think the Crimson Tide are head and shoulders above everyone. I’m comfortable leaning toward Alabama to win by two touchdowns and cover.
As much as Alabama has dominated college football in past years, they’ve been even better this year. The reason is quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. In the past, Alabama has won despite subpar quarterback play. But now the Crimson Tide can dominate teams because of their passing game. Tagovailoa has completed over 70% of his passes on the season and limited himself to just two interceptions. He’s been ultra-efficient throughout the season and is obviously surrounded by five-star talent on the rest of the Alabama offense.
Of course, the Georgia defense is one of the best in the country. The Bulldogs are giving up just 17 points per game, holding six of their eight SEC opponents to 20 points or less. Those are impressive numbers and create some hope that Georgia can slow down an Alabama offense that’s scored at least 50 points in eight of 12 games. But it’s only a sliver of a hope for Georgia. Keeping the Crimson Tide contained for four quarters is nearly impossible.
On the other side of the ball, again, the Bulldogs have reason to be optimistic. Georgia has been able to run the ball all season behind the tandem of D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield. Both are averaging better than six yards per carry on the ground and have been at their best during the second half of the season. Georgia can also bring in backup quarterback Justin Fields to help run the ball in certain situations and keep Alabama on their toes.
Meanwhile, starting quarterback Jake Fromm has given the Bulldogs competent quarterback play all season. Fromm hasn’t been asked to do too much for much of the season. But he’s been steady and trustworthy and will not shy away from taking on more responsibilities against Alabama. The Bulldogs will need to be balanced if they’re going to have a chance against Alabama
Admittedly, Georgia may be the best offensive team Alabama has faced this year. With the way the Bulldogs can run the ball gives them a chance to stay within striking distance. However, the Crimson Tide have some serious athletes in the front-7. The likes of LSU, Mississippi State, and Auburn all struggled to run the ball with consistency against Alabama. The Georgia rushing attack could be different, but there’s no guarantee the Bulldogs can run the ball as effectively as they usually do. Without a reliable running game, it’s tough to do much against the Alabama defense.
All things considered, I think Georgia can hang around with Alabama for a half. But it’ll be difficult for the Bulldogs to keep up with Alabama for a full 60 minutes. The Crimson Tide are too explosive offensively and too tough defensively. Since no team has gotten any closer than 22 points against Alabama this year, I’ll take my chances with the Crimson Tide covering the spread.