It was just over a month ago that Alabama humbled Georgia. The Crimson Tide ripped apart the nation’s top defense, cruising to a 17-point victory that was never in doubt.
Monday night, the two teams meet again, and just like that first meeting, Alabama is the underdog.
Yes, that’s right. The defending national champion — with arguably the greatest coach of all time (Nick Saban), the Heisman Trophy winner (Bryce Young) and the most dominant defensive player in the country (Will Anderson Jr.) — is predicted to come up short against the very team it so recently manhandled.
“If you look at the season in its entirety, Georgia was much more consistent and much better throughout [the regular season],” said Chris Andrews, the sportsbook director at South Point in Las Vegas. “The one time they did lose, and lose pretty handily, was to Alabama. But Alabama has been much more inconsistent. They lost to Texas A&M, they probably should’ve lost to Auburn, Florida. There were a lot of games they could’ve lost, plus they’re missing their top receiver [John Metchie III].”
The SuperBook Sports opening line favored Georgia by 1. South Point and DraftKings installed the Bulldogs as 2.5-point favorites. The line has fluctuated at different places, rising to 3 before settling back in at 2.5. Georgia was a 6.5-point favorite in the first matchup.
Jay Kornegay, executive vice president of SuperBook Sports; DraftKings director of race and sportsbook operations Johnny Avello; and Andrews all applied the same reasoning: Georgia was the better team on a weekly basis during the regular season. It didn’t have any close calls. Both Kornegay and Avello see the revenge factor as a significant edge. Not only is Georgia looking to bounce back from the SEC title game, but it hasn’t won a national championship since 1980. Avello felt Georgia’s semifinal opponent, Michigan, was better than Alabama’s foe, Cincinnati.
“There’s a couple of reasons why we think Georgia should be the favorite,” Avello said. “Their power rating is a little higher, just by a touch, and it’s the revenge factor the bettors will see. They’ll think the Georgia defense will show up for this one when they didn’t show up for the first one.”
All three oddsmakers have seen increased action on the game, more than in recent years for college football’s championship game, with this much time before kickoff. It has gone in both directions. For instance, Kornegay said the SuperBook received a $187,000 bet for Alabama and one $145,000 wager for Georgia.
There are a few factors involved, the longtime bookmakers say. The rematch has actually added intrigue because the first result was so unexpected, and so has Alabama’s rare role as the underdog. It was favored in 92 consecutive games before the two teams met the first time.
“Huge betting game — one of the biggest college betting games of all time,” Avello said.