College Football National Championship Preview: Alabama Vs. Georgia Breakdown

Written By Brett Gibbons on January 4, 2022
alabama - georgia odds

After all of the pandemonium and upsets the 2021 college football season brought us, we’re left with Alabama and Georgia. It’s two familiar faces on the national stage for the College Football Playoff national championship, and opening Alabama – Georgia odds have the rematch lined closely.

Outside of SEC stakeholders, media giants, and fans of the teams themselves, this might not be the outcome many wanted, but it is the outcome we got. Below, we’ll break down every facet of No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 3 Georgia in the College Football National Championship.

Georgia is a favorite in the game (Alabama ML) and the game has an over/under of .

Kickoff is Monday, Jan. 10, at 8:00 p.m. ET at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

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College Football National Championship Odds

Alabama – Georgia Odds: Crimson Tide Preview

Nick Saban leads the Alabama Crimson Tide to its sixth championship game appearance in eight College Football Playoffs and their ninth title game appearance in the last 13 seasons. It’s a nearly unprecedented championship pedigree, bested only by UCLA’s basketball wagon of the ’60s and ’70s.

Perhaps the most lucrative part of this championship is that this Tide team is considered one of the weaker assembled by Saban in the last 10+ years. However, their talent and accomplishments are undeniable. Sophomore quarterback Bryce Young is the Heisman Trophy winner and set single-season records for passing yards and passing touchdowns.

Young’s thrown to a pair of talented receivers this season, Jameson Williams (an Ohio State transfer) and John Metchie III; the latter will not play in this game after tearing his ACL in the SEC Championship. While both receivers posted 1,000-yard seasons of their own, they don’t quite stack up to recent crops led by players like DeVonta Smith, Jerry Jeudy and Jaylen Waddle.

Bama boasts a talented offensive line that underperformed late in the season. However, its play improved dramatically this postseason. The unit is anchored by tackle Evan Neal, who is a projected first-round NFL Draft pick, marking the fourth straight year Alabama had an offensive lineman be drafted in the first round.

On the other side of the football, Alabama posted their second-worst points per drive number under Saban (since 2008). Bronko Nagurski trophy winner Will Anderson headlines the Tide defense. Anderson led the nation in sacks (17.5) and tackles for loss (34.5). Those TFLs made up 35.6% of all of his tackles, solo or assisted.

How Alabama Got Here

After winning the 2021 National Championship handily over Ohio State, the Alabama Crimson Tide opened this year as preseason title favorites (most books had them around +250). It was deservedly so, as Young was the nation’s second-ranked recruit (20th all-time) and top quarterback in the 2020 recruiting cycle. Despite a majority of their 2020-21 squad leaving for the NFL, the Tide were gifted with an embarrassment of riches.

They began the season ranked No. 1 in the country and held onto their status as favorites for the early season. An upset loss at Texas A&M in Week 6 and the surging Georgia Bulldogs knocked Alabama off the throne of favorite for the remainder of the regular season.

Alabama’s longest odds came after Week 13 when the Tide were nearly upset by a shorthanded Auburn team in the Iron Bowl. Books at this point had them between +550 and +675, depending on where you looked.

However, a steep swing in the odds came when Alabama beat Georgia by 17 in the SEC title game, moving Bama from its longest odds to being favorites once again.

After earning the top seed in this year’s CFP, Alabama beat Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl semifinal to advance to the National Championship. The Crimson Tide will likely be a short underdog when Alabama – Georgia odds close.

Alabama – Georgia Odds: Bulldogs Preview

This is the Georgia Bulldogs’ second national championship appearance in the last four seasons, but they haven’t won a title since 1980. Kirby Smart extends his record to 65-15 as head coach of Georgia, a tenure that began in 2016.

Not only did the Georgia roster the nation’s best defense in 2021, but they pieced together a truly historic season. Led by Outland Trophy winner Jordan Davis and one of the most sturdy front sevens of all time, the Dawgs finished with the best points per drive allowed metric since it began being recorded in 2008 (0.36 in the regular season). Davis was backed by Butkis Award winner Nakobe Dean, the nation’s top linebacker.

Dan Lanning orchestrated the defense so well this year that he was hired by Oregon as their next head coach. Lanning’s been on the Georgia staff since 2018 and worked one season as a grad assistant with Alabama under Saban.

While the defense was the headline-grabber, Georgia’s offense was more effective than given credit for. Stetson Bennett IV led the Bulldogs to the nation’s second-best points per drive mark (only behind Ohio State). Towards the end of the season, calls for Bennett to be benched in favor of blue-chip transfer JT Daniels began to spring up, but he held onto the starting role and threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns against Michigan in the semifinal.

The two-headed backfield of Zamir White and James Cook (brother of Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook) led the charge for Georgia. Their offensive philosophy was clear: pound the ball with a talented offensive line and take shots with Bennett. White, a junior, rushed for 5.3 yards per carry and 10 touchdowns while Cook, a senior, picked up 6.1 yards a clip and seven touchdowns this season.

How Georgia Got Here

For the past several seasons, Georgia’s always been in the conversation for the national championship. However, preseason odds usually have UGA in the fifth-to-10th-range; this season was no different. They had the second-shortest preseason odds among teams to make up the 2022 CFP field, but sat behind teams like Clemson, Ohio State, and Oklahoma in August.

Right off the bat, Georgia received a boost in their title odds. They held No. 3 Clemson to just three points in an opening-week victory on primetime. Retrospectively, Clemson’s offense was a mess and the feat was diluted slightly, but the Dawgs put the nation on notice immediately.

During the regular season, Georgia didn’t allow more than 17 points in a single game, with that mark only being set once by Tennessee. It was utter domination of ranked teams as Georgia marched its way through the SEC East. Once Alabama fell to unranked Texas A&M in Week 6, Georgia overtook the Tide as title favorites for the remainder of the regular season. At various points, the Bulldogs were odds-on favorites.

When they were bested by Alabama in the SEC Championship game, Georgia relinquished their status as futures favorites. They were selected as the third seed by the CFP committee and handily beat Michigan in the Orange Bowl semifinal.

After closing as six-point favorites in the SEC title game against the Crimson Tide, Alabama – Georgia odds still have the Dawgs favored but only by about a field goal this time.

Alabama – Georgia Odds: Matchup Breakdown

Alabama has gotten the best of Georgia in each of the last three high-profile meetings:

  • 2021 SEC Championship
  • 2018 National Championship
  • 2017 SEC Championship

Nick Saban is 7-0 against Georgia during his tenure at Alabama. Georgia’s defense didn’t seem to be insurmountable against the Tide’s offense just a month ago, so can we expect anything differently?

Didn’t We Just See This?

Just five weeks before this championship game is played, Alabama beat Georgia 41-24 in the SEC Championship game. While the final score says the Tide won by 17, they were in complete control from the opening bell and led 41-17 until late. Bryce Young threw for 421 yards and three touchdowns and added a rushing score. Jameson Williams recorded 184 receiving yards on seven catches with two touchdowns.

It was total Tide domination. It was a combination of excellent offensive line play and attacking the “weakness” in the UGA defense – its secondary. Georgia didn’t record a single sack.

So, why should we believe this game will go any differently, and why is Georgia a favorite?

The SEC title loss gave Georgia a chance to collect itself, and refocus. Adjustments were evident in its 34-11 beatdown of Michigan in the Orange Bowl. Will it make a difference against Saban’s iron-clad Alabama team? That remains to be seen.

Nick Saban Vs. His Assistant Tree

Earlier this year, Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher became the first former assistant of Nick Saban to beat him in a game. Prior to then, Saban was 25-0. Those 25 wins weren’t against analysts and assistants that took over the South Alabamas of the college football world, either– his coaching tree has put out some titans. A quick look at some of the names:

  • Kirby Smart, Georgia
  • Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M
  • Lane Kiffin, Ole Miss
  • Billy Napier, Florida
  • Jim McElwain, Central Michigan
  • Mark Dantonio, longtime Michigan State head coach
  • Will Muschamp, longtime South Carolina head coach
  • Jeremy Pruitt, longtime Tennessee head coach

Smart himself is 0-4 in the series, one of which came during the regular season.

The Case For Alabama

At the risk of stating the obvious, this same Alabama team just beat this same Georgia team soundly in a high-stakes game.

However, the case goes deeper than that. The Tide showed virtually nothing in its CFP semifinal win over Cincinnati. They lined up and ran the ball 47 times while attempting 28 passes thanks to a dominant offensive line performance. Senior Brian Robinson was the featured player in that game, rushing for over 200 yards.

In its previous matchup, Alabama didn’t show a lot either. It was a lot of basic concepts and simple route trees that mostly attacked downfield and the deep middle of the field. Essentially, Saban let Young loose and throw to his talented players.

As long as the offensive line holds up, even if they don’t hold Georgia without a sack, we could see a repeat of Dec. 4.

And, of course, Saban’s championship experience and record against assistants can’t go unmentioned. When it comes to championship games, composure is key. Alabama has composure.

The Case For Georgia

Oddsmakers favor Georgia. There’s a reason the line was set in favor of the Bulldogs in spite of everything seen previously. Power ratings still have UGA sitting No. 1 and Bama No. 2.

To ask Alabama’s offensive line to hold Georgia without a sack twice is a tall order. Georgia is top 10 nationally in sacks per game (3.21) and, as mentioned before, their front seven is historically significant. Defensive back Lewis Cine led the Dawgs in tackles in the SEC Championship Game, a testament to Alabama’s success getting the ball to the perimeter. With that game under their belt, Smart will make adjustments.

Stetson Bennett threw two costly interceptions against Alabama the first time around after only throwing five all season. While those picks were forced by the Tide’s defense, there’s a chance Bennett doesn’t throw those again.

All season long, Georgia’s been the best team in the nation with the exception of one game – a game that was a must-win for Alabama and had no consequences for Georgia other than seeding.

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Brett Gibbons

Brett is an avid sports traveler and former Division-I football recruiter for Bowling Green and Texas State. He’s a graduate of BGSU and works as an auditor for Google content curation products. He’s also contributed to Sports Illustrated and Fansided during his young writing career.

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