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Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Georgia Bulldogs Point Spread - Pick

Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1 SU, 6-7 ATS) vs. Georgia Bulldogs (13-1 SU, 10-4 ATS)
CFP National Championship
Date/Time: Monday, January 8, 2018 at 8PM EST
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia
TV: ESPN

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: ALA -4.5/UGA +4.5
Over/Under Total: 45.5

The Alabama Crimson Tide takes on the Georgia Bulldogs in the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday in Atlanta. It's an all-SEC title game between one-loss teams. Georgia was successful in a memorable Rose Bowl/CFB Semifinal, beating Oklahoma, 54-48, to get to this game. They overcame a deficit and a powerful Oklahoma offense, making enough plays on both sides of the ball to tilt the scales in their direction. The win lifted the Bulldogs to 13-1 and they have now clearly illustrated they are an elite team this season. Alabama, meanwhile, came up roses in their semifinal matchup with defending champion Clemson, 24-6. It was their biggest win on the season, as they avenged a loss in last year's final, while getting to the CFP final for the third time in a row.

Giving this game a little extra storyline, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart faces the team where was a longtime defensive coordinator up through the 2015 season. Nick Saban, however, is 11-0 against former assistants, with none of those games being closer than a 14-point margin. This game has the looks of a contest that is open to any number of different perspectives. Let's see what we can come up with in this CFP prediction.

Georgia really showed the full depth of what they represent with the comeback win over Oklahoma. After falling behind 31-14 late in the second quarter, they were in trouble and responded with passion. Their run-game was off the charts, while the defense started making plays. The "D" wasn't great against Oklahoma, but who is? They ended up making enough positive plays to turn things in their favor and their play was big in overtime, especially late when they forced Oklahoma into a FG attempt that they got a hand on to make it fall short. They've overcome a lot this season for a team that earlier looked a bit coddled. Winning the SEC title against an Auburn team that had previously beaten them badly was a big show of their character. And hanging in there when things started looking bad against Oklahoma was also revealing of their make-up.

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Georgia's offense has some really big things going for it. Jake Fromm is a tremendous freshman with great field-presence. He was 20-29 with two touchdowns in the kind of efficient and unflappable performance that has been a big part of the Bulldogs' success this season. A big beefy line helps spring the run game, led by the electric duo of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. Michel was gigantic with 181 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, along with a TD reception. Chubb ran for 145 yards and added two touchdown scores. They combined for 326 yards on only 25 carries. Michel's touchdown run in double-OT sealed it and they were a constant breakaway threat with a bunch of long runs along the way. They might find things a lot more difficult in this matchup, but that one-two punch of Michel and Chubb in the backfield looked pretty deadly in the semifinal. Wide receivers Javon Wims and Chris Godwin were also big against the Sooners and will be needed for balance in this matchup.

It might sound weird to heap praise on a defense on the heels of yielding 48 points, but they were a big part of the win last week for the Bulldogs. After giving up an average of 15 points a game this season, they probably hoped for a more-robust overall performance. Their playmaking was a big part of the game, with Dominick Sanders' second-half pick and return being huge. The pass-rush was successful with Lorenzo Carter, Tyler Clark, Jonathan Ledbetter, and others getting to Baker Mayfield. Linebacker Roquan Smith made a handful of key plays that helped tip things in the Bulldogs' favor. Carter got a hand on the Sooners' double-overtime FG attempt.

In a way, Georgia was able to beat the Sooners at their own game, thriving in what was a true-blue shootout in the semifinal—the highest-scoring Rose Bowl of all time. At the end of the day, they had one loss on the season, a defeat that was soundly avenged. They've now beaten Notre Dame, Auburn, and Oklahoma. They weren't covered as much earlier in the season. But Kirby Smart has tapped into something and has this team in a position to do something really special in his second season at the helm.

Alabama really showed a lot of horsepower with the big win over Clemson. Prior to that, they hadn't really established greatness on any kind of clear level. They beat some good teams, but their loss to Auburn had people questioning whether they even deserved to be in the College Football Playoff. But a win over Clemson, the same team that beat them in the CFP final, put those notions to rest. And the conclusiveness in which they achieved it suggests we may have been overlooking the Tide or at least we took the Auburn loss a little too much to heart.

The Alabama offense is led by sophomore Jalen Hurts, who is 25-2 in two seasons as a starter. His tidy 16-for-24 showing against Clemson with two TD throws was a typically-efficient performance for the quarterback. He is also useful with his legs. Damien Harris is a major weapon on the ground, with Bo Scarbrough getting the other carries against Clemson, but they have a ton of backs they can unleash. Calvin Ridley caught a TD pass on Monday, as well. Hurts also connected with defensive lineman Da'Ron Payne for a TD up-close. It wasn't an explosive performance perhaps, but it was more than enough. And they got a big assist from the other side of the ball.

With Clemson able to score points the way they have this season, the Alabama defense really showed the full scope of its venom in the Semifinal by holding them to just a pair of field goals. Clemson was held to just 188 total yards on the night. On the ground, they had just 64 yards on 33 carries. That was typical of a defense that was ranked tops in the nation in run-defense. They'll need to flex their muscles in this matchup against a Georgia ground-attack that was a handful last Monday. In addition to his TD catch, Payne was big on Monday with an interception, while Mack Wilson's pick-six was a turning-point of the game. They got a good pass-rush on Monday, as Rashaad Evans, Anfernee Jennings, Raekwon Davis, and Da'Shawn Hand had sacks. We'll see if their run-defense can trump the Georgia run in this game, but it's going to be a tough matchup. This defense looked great against Clemson and you're looking at a unit stacked with guys who will be playing on Sundays not long from now.

Alabama is a great team. And in championship conditions in the Semifinal, they were able to shine. But Georgia is more than a handful and this game has the looks of a big old war. The Tide "D" has been able to thrive, but enough teams have put up some points against them to where the Bulldogs can certainly have some hope considering how they looked against Oklahoma. Alabama's offense tends to cruise sometimes. They'll need their defense to thrive, especially against the run. If able to do that, will Georgia freshman QB Jake Fromm be able to shine in this spot? Can Georgia find the answers here that Clemson wasn't able to find? This game has the looks of a real close one. Personally, I think Georgia is for real and I could be wrong, but I see the 'Bama defense taking over this game. I'll take 'Bama in this one.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Alabama Crimson Tide minus 4.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Alabama vs. Georgia game by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 50% sign-up bonus!

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