Crimson Tide Meet Bulldogs in Conference Title Game

Dale Perth | Updated Nov 30, 2012

Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron is shown in 2012.

SEC Championship: Alabama vs. Georgia Preview and Result

The objective is clear: whichever team wins this one on Saturday will square off against unbeaten Notre Dame in a January bowl game, likely for the national championship; the loser might find their post-season path blocked by No. 5 Florida. With a lot at stake for both teams, there isn’t much room for error.

There isn’t a lot in the stats to separate these two powerhouses, either. Both teams are 11-1 overall, and 7-1 in the conference. While few outside of the Peach State seem to be giving the Bulldogs much of a chance in this one, fans of NCAAF betting should take note: the Sports Interaction line on Wednesday had the Crimson Tide favored by 7 points. By Friday the spread had moved only half a point towards ‘Bama, so it would appear the oddsmakers aren’t seeing an overwhelming amount of action on the favorites.

Alabama leads all U.S. college teams in both defense and scoring — the Tide has scored 40 or more points in seven of 12 games — with four shutouts this season. Two of those were consecutive 49-0 blowouts over Western Carolina and Auburn, and in each the Tide scored 42 by halftime. The Bulldogs know how to put points in the board, too, most recently in a 42-10 wrecking of Georgia Tech. The ‘Dogs have been waiting a long time for this opportunity, and they may be ready to seize the day.

Both quarterbacks, Alabama’s AJ McCarron and Aaron Murray of Georgia, come into the game among the most highly rated in the nation. With 44 touchdown passes to his credit, McCarron needs only four more to set a new school record. Eddie Lacy is the 16th running back in Tide history to run for more than 1,000 yards in a season. On the other side of the ball, Georgia is on a six-game win streak. Murray leads all previous Bulldogs pivots in efficency (157.11), and freshman RB Todd Gurley has also rushed for more than 1,000 yards.

Where the difference might be most pronounced is in the overall stats: ‘Bama is 15th in scoring with 39.0 points/game and Georgia is right behind in 16th (38.0), but the Tide has yielded the fewest points per game (a miserly 9.3) while the ‘Dogs rank 15th (17.7). If Alabama succeeds on Saturday, head coach Nick Saban will be chasing his third national title in the last four years.

Against the spread, the Tide are 4-0 on field turf and 9-2 after scoring 40 points or more; the ‘Dogs are 4-1 ATS after a straight-up win and in their last five games overall. The total was set on Wednesday at 50.0 but creeped up to 50.5 by Friday. While the Over is 4-0 in Alabama’s last four field turf games, the Under is trending more heavily: it’s 6-1-1 for the Tide after they beat the spread in their previous game, and 16-5-1 versus opponents with winning records. With the Bulldogs, it’s all Under: 6-0 in their last six overall, 5-0 in the SEC and in their last five following a straight-up win, and 4-0 versus winning teams. It has to be noted, though, that the Over is 4-0 in the last four head-to-head meetings, and the road team is 4-1 against the spread.

Prediction: Alabama 28, Georgia 21.

RESULT: No. 2-ranked Alabama held off third-ranked Georgia 32-28 as AJ McCarron threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper with 3:15 remaining.