No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs
Line: Alabama -4.5
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium
When: Saturday, 10/17, at 8:00 p.m. ET
If bettors ever wondered what the best coach in college football was worth to a point spread, they
basically found out earlier this week.
No. 2 Alabama will be without head coach Nick Saban for Saturday night’s showdown against
No. 3 Georgia after he tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. The Crimson Tide moved
from 6 or 6.5-point favorites to around 4-point favorites at most sportsbooks after the news
Some books saw the number get as low as 3.5, but the market has adjusted to 4.5 as of Friday
morning. The total has not moved much for this game, opening at 56.5 and moving to 57.
Georgia brings one of the nation’s premier defenses into this contest. The Bulldogs have held
their first three opponents to 12.3 points per game, despite allowing 21 first-half points to
Tennessee last week.
They will certainly face their toughest test thus far when Alabama running back Najee Harris
opposes them on Saturday night. Harris scored five touchdowns and tallied 206 rushing yards in
the Crimson Tide’s shootout against Ole Miss last week. He made a big jump in the Heisman
Trophy betting market, now sitting at 18/1.
Georgia has yet to allow a run longer than 19 yards and is only giving up 38.3 rushing yards per
game, which is the fewest in Division I. Harris is averaging 6.7 yards per carry on 52 attempts,
scoring 10 touchdowns in three games.
Junior quarterback Mac Jones is going to need a strong outing for Alabama as well. Jones has
completed 79.5 percent of his passes for 1,101 yards and eight touchdowns. He has two of the
premier wide receivers in college football on his team in Jaylen Waddle and Devonta Smith.
Waddle has hauled in 19 receptions for 396 yards and three touchdowns, while Smith has added
27 grabs for 316 yards and two scores. Sophomore John Metchie III is overshadowed, but has
caught 11 passes for 298 yards and two touchdowns.
While the Bulldogs’ defense is allowing just 236.7 YPG, Alabama has given up 473.0 YPG
through three contests. The Crimson Tide were absolutely torched by Ole Miss last week, which
presents some opportunities for a capable Georgia offense.
Junior quarterback Stetson Bennett is completing 63.1 percent of his passes and has yet to throw
an interception this season. Sophomore wideout Kearis Jackson has been a serious weapon,
hauling in 19 receptions for 300 yards and a score.
George Pickens is off to a slow start this season after having a breakout freshman campaign in 2019.
He has only caught eight passes for 87 yards and two scores. Sophomore running back
Zamir White is also looking for better productivity, averaging 3.9 YPC on 54 attempts.
Alabama has won 18 of its last 20 conference games and is 5-2 against the spread in its last
seven October games. Georgia is on a five-game losing streak in the series, but the Bulldogs
have gone 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games overall.
The stats don’t lie — these teams have gone in opposite directions as far as the total is concerned.
Georgia has cashed the ‘under’ in 10 of its last 12 games, whereas Alabama has now gone ‘over’
in five of its last six.
The Pick: Alabama -4.5
The best value in this game came when Alabama got close to a field-goal favorite after the Saban
news broke, but this line is still too low at -4.5. Georgia has all the defensive numbers in its
favor, but Kirby Smart has yet to break through against a Saban team — and him not being on the
sideline is not worth multiple points to the spread. Harris is going to be a much tougher task than
the running backs Georgia has faced thus far and I am not ready to write off this Crimson Tide
defense just yet. Bennett has shown the potential to be a really good quarterback for Georgia, but
this will easily be the biggest moment of his career. I’ll take Alabama to cover in what should be
a high-scoring affair.