Even before the college football betting season started, the NCAA football schedule was changed due to the Covid-19 disease. Since it was first learned that this year’s SEC schedule would pit Alabama against Georgia the game has been greatly anticipated. Three games into the schedule of 10 SEC games, the anticipation has increased.
NCAA Football’s “Game of the Year” is set to happen on prime-time TV Saturday. The No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs (3-0) are preparing to Tuscaloosa to take on the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (3-0). ESPN College Gameday will be on site. The outcome of this game will most likely decide which team will eventually get an invitation to the College Football Playoffs, and which team will have to settle for a Bowl Game.
There was a different spin put on this battle Wednesday with news legendary Alabama coach Nick Saban tested positive for Covid-19. While Saban downplayed the test result and said he can still do the same things from home as on the sidelines, offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian steps into a huge role.
TUSCALOOSA, YOU'RE UP NEXT ‼️
See you Saturday for Georgia vs. Alabama 👏 pic.twitter.com/RNclXKbfmq
— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) October 11, 2020
And Thursday came the news that Saban will not be able to coach the Crimson Tide from home against the Dawgs.
Coaching from home via Zoom doesn’t sound possible for Saban against Georgia. https://t.co/cf98bJb72X
— Michael Casagrande (@ByCasagrande) October 15, 2020
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- Day: Saturday
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- Place: Bryant-Denny Stadium (Tuscaloosa, Alabama)
- TV: CBS
- Weather: 73°F and Sunny
Coach Nick Saban
Saban has been dominating college football for nearly two decades. He won his first NCAA Championship in 2002 with the LSU Tigers. In 2004, he left for the NFL and came back to the NCAA in 2007. A year after an average first season as the coach of the Tide, he led Alabama to its first undefeated regular season in 14 years in 2008. That was the beginning of what has become one of the most impressive coaching tenures.
Saban and the Crimson Tide haven’t lost to the Bulldogs since 2007. The Crimson Tide have beaten the Bulldogs seven consecutive times in that 13-year span. The silver lining for the Bulldogs is that they have won the past two contests in Tuscaloosa.
— #WVTM13 (@WVTM13) October 13, 2020
The Disciples of Saban
In 2018 there were 15, NFL or NCAA Division I coaches who had at one point coached under Saban. These coaches are being called Saban’s disciples by USA Today. That stat alone is impressive, but it gets better. Saban is 21-0 in games where the coaching opponent is one of his disciples.
Georgia Coach Kirby Smart was one of Saban’s most dedicated disciples. He worked under Saban at LSU in 2004, with Miami Dolphins in 2006. and at Alabama from 2007-2015. Smart took the head coaching job at his alma mater in 2016 and has found great success, except against his former boss in Alabama.
There were championships on the line the only times Smart has faced Saban. The two faced-off in 2017 for the National Championship game and in 2018 for the SEC Championship game. Saban got the best of his former defensive coordinator in both games. The final scores were, 26-23 in overtime and 35-28.
No. 1 Offense vs No. 1 Defense
‘Bama has the No. 1 offense. The Crimson Tide are averaging 51 points per game. The Bulldogs house the No. 1 defense. The Dawgs have only allowed their opponents to score 12.33 points per game. Something has to give.
Tides are Changing
For most of the time Saban has spent at Alabama, the Tide have been known for a stifling defense. This year things are a bit different. Through three games, the Crimson Tide’s defense is allowing 31.3 points per game, ranking them No. 33. ‘Bama has given up more points, more rushing yards, more passing yards, more total plays, more total yards, and more yards per play in each game.
Saban is in uncharted territory after his defense allowed 48 points to Ole’ Miss last week. The 48 points allowed set a high for an Alabama team under Coach Saban. Before last Saturday’s matchup with Ole’ Miss the most points a Saban coached Alabama team ever gave up was 45 points,which was set during the Sugar Bowl in 2013 against the Oklahoma Sooners.
After the Ole Miss game where Alabama gave up over 600 total yards, Saban claimed that the Rebels’ (who are coached by a Saban disciple, Lane Kiffin) were stealing the Tide’s defensive signals. Saban seemed desperate for answers and made sure his staff and players understood their defensive problems needed to be solved as they prepared for Georgia.
Smart served as Saban’s defensive coordinator for many of the years that Bama’s defense was dismantling most of the offenses that line up against them. Once again, Smart has his defense playing at a high level, but this time he’s coaching for Georgia. The Bulldogs are considered the No. 1 defense in NCAA football heading into their battle with Alabama. They have only allowed 12.33 (SEC lowest, NCAA No. 3) points per game in their first three contests.
— Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) October 14, 2020
The ‘Dogs have forced seven turnovers and recorded three defensive scores—two touchdowns and a safety. “They are maybe the best defensive team in the country,” Saban said.
A ‘Massive’ Matchup
Alabama may have the best offensive line in college football. They have only allowed four sacks. They have also opened up huge holes for Najee Harris to rack up 347 rushing yards and 10 TDs on 52 attempts (6.7 yard per carry average). “They’re just massive,” Smart said. “They can swallow you up, they can move you, they can mash you.”
The Bulldogs are also “massive” up-front defensively. They have a nine-player rotation that averages 300 pounds. Their linebackers are also small tanks that average around 240. The Dawgs have allowed four runs of 10-plus yards, which is the fewest out of any team that has played three games. They are yet to give up a run for more than 20 yards this season.
Whoever can control the line-of-scrimmage usually wins any football game. This game features two of the best position groups in college football, colliding each play to see who can move to 4-0. Third down efficiency throughout the game is going to be key for these teams.
Betting Advice | Georgia (3-0) at Alabama (3-0)
- Team | Points Spread | Money Line | Over/Under | Team Totals
- Georgia | +6 -110 | +190 | 57 -110o | 24½ -125 | 24½ -105u
- Alabama | -6 -110 | -230 | 57 -110u | 31½ -115o | 31½ -115u
It’s hard to imagine Alabama will be able to pull away from this Georgia team. Alabama’s defense will perform much better, but I also expect their offense to have a harder time marching down the field. I do not expect Saban to lose his first game to one of his disciples quite yet.
Point Spread Pick: Georgia +6
With how many people believe Georgia is going to win the six points seems like a gift. I think it is super generous to give the No. 1 defense six points. Georgia +6 is my favorite bet of this game.
Money line: Alabama -230
I think Saban and his defense solve some of their issues heading into this game also expect the offense to continue to move the ball effectively and put pressure on Georgia’s defense all game besides Alabama has the better QB in Mac Jones, which will be the difference on third downs.
Over/Under: Over 57
Georgia is going to have to score more than 30 points to keep up with Alabama. I do believe Georgia will be able to slow down the Crimson Tide. But, slowing down a team that averages 51 points a game looks something like 30 points.
Pick: Alabama 31, Georgia 27
Saban moves to 23-0 against his former assistants and Alabama proves to be the biggest threat to No. 1 Clemson. I’m picking Alabama thinking they will improve their defense by correcting a lot of mistakes like bad-tackling and missed assignments that they had against Ole’ Miss.
🔢 STAT OF THE DAY 🔢
Since 2008, football coach Nick Saban has as many national championships (5) as home losses at Alabama (5).
Championships: 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2018
Home Losses ⬇️
2019 vs. LSU
2015 vs. Ole Miss
2012 vs. Texas A&M
2011 vs. LSU
2010 vs. Auburn pic.twitter.com/tB1UD76avn
— Greg Harvey (@BetweenTheNums) October 9, 2020