The 2018 SEC Championship is a rematch of last year’s NCAAF National Championship game. Alabama won the National Championship 26-23 over Georgia in overtime as a 3.5-point favorite. Now Georgia needs a victory as a big underdog in the SEC Championship to reach the College Football Playoff. Georgia won the SEC Championship 28-7 over Auburn. The Crimson Tide are gunning for their 13th victory of 20+ points against an SEC Championship betting line that is nearing two-touchdowns.
#1 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-0) vs #4 Georgia Bulldogs (11-1)
Saturday, Dec. 1st – Atlanta, GA – 4:00pm ET on CBS
SEC Championship Betting Line: Alabama -13.5 (63.5)
Alabama did not even reach last year’s SEC championship game, as they lost to Auburn in the Iron Bowl and Georgia went on to beat Auburn 28-7 in the SEC Championship. But ‘Bama still made the College Football Playoff and went on to win it all. Last year’s National Championship game signified the start of the Tua Tagovailoa era, as he came into the game in the second half after Alabama fell behind Georgia 13-0 at halftime. The rest, as they say, is history, as Alabama went on to win 26-23 with Tagovailoa passing for 3 touchdowns including the 41-yard bomb in overtime to set off the Tide celebration.
Revenge is certainly on the minds of Georgia, who had the championship in had last year before Tagovailoa took them by storm in the fourth quarter. They’ve had plenty of time to prepare for the likely Heisman winner…but so have plenty of other teams. The 13.5 point spread has sent SEC Championship betting in to a frenzy. Alabama is a phenomenal team, but Georgia might not be as far behind them as this line indicates.
SEC Championship Stats and Betting Breakdown
Tagovailoa has ignited the Alabama offense this season as the best in coach Nick Saban’s tenure in Tuscaloosa. Alternating with QB Jalen Hurts in the early season, Tagovailoa has taken control of the Crimson Tide offense and passed for 3,189 yards at a nation-best 11.9 yards per pass. He’s passed for 36 touchdown and just 2 interceptions. Hello, Heisman Trophy. Alabama is averaging 48.9 points per game vs FBS opponents; second-best in the nation.
Despite Alabama’s dominance and ability to cover big point spreads going 8-4 ATS this season, I’m leaning towards Georgia since the Bulldogs boast a strong, balanced offense (258.2 rushing and 220.7 passing) that averages 39.6 points per game vs FBS foes with QB Jake Fromm also having an All-SEC season. Georgia is also a defensive dominator ranking top-15 allowing 18.7 points per game, 317.3 yards per game and 4.8 yards per play vs FBS opponents. Alabama is better (13.3/283.3/4.2) on defense, and it’s important to note that while Alabama’s offense is explosive and efficient, the Crimson Tide scored 29 and 24 point against the two best defenses they faced later in the season, LSU and Mississippi State in a pair of shutout victories, gaining a season-low 305 yards at home against Mississippi State.
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart is 7-1 ATS in neutral site games and Georgia has covered the last four as an underdog. The Bulldogs are also on a 6-1 ATS run in their last 7 games overall, and 6-0 ATS the last six meetings against Alabama as an underdog.
On offense, Georgia averages 108 yards per game (YPG) more than their opponents allow (8th FBS). Alabama is even better at 159 YPG more than their opponents (3rd) and the Crimson Tide defense holds opponents to 141 yards per game below their average (3rd).
Total Dominance for SEC Dominators Alabama and Georgia
In 27 SEC Championship games, this is the highest posted total. While the offenses – especially Alabama’s – get the accolades, it’s the defenses that are both strong and stout which points me towards less scoring than expected.
Georgia plays with no fear of Alabama and still more at stake for the Bulldogs with the CFP to ensure energy and effort throughout this SEC title game. While Alabama is the best team in the country and has beaten all 12 opponents this season by 20+ points, I’ll still lean the Bulldogs way with less scoring than expected the preferred play.
SEC Championship Betting Free Pick – Georgia +13.5 and UNDER
Fairway Jay is a professional handicapper based out of Las Vegas. He focuses primarily on the four majors along with college football and college basketball. You can follow him on Twitter @FairwayJay.