SEC Championship Betting Preview: #2 Alabama Crimson Tide vs #3 Georgia Bulldogs

2012 SEC Championship Game
#2 Alabama Crimson Tide vs #3 Georgia Bulldogs
Saturday, December 1, 2012, 4:00 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
Georgia Dome – Atlanta, Georgia
Opening Line: Alabama -7 1/2
Current Line: Alabama -7 (-115)
Opening Total: 50 1/2
Current Total: 50 1/2
Opening Money Line: Alabama -325 / Georgia +275
Current Money Line: Alabama -325 / Georgia +275

Alabama is a 7 point favorite against Georgia in Saturday’s SEC Championship game in Atlanta. The winner will face Notre Dame in January’s BCS Championship game.

While 12-0 Notre Dame clinched their spot in the BCS Championship game last week with their win over USC, their opponent will be decided in Saturday’s SEC Championship game. The #2 Alabama Crimson Tide and #3 Georgia Bulldogs face off in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Both teams are 11-1 overall and 7-1 in the SEC.

Alabama is making their 8th appearance in the SEC Championship game, but this is the first time they will not be facing Florida in the game. Georgia is making their fifth appearance in the game. Alabama has won 22 SEC titles, including 3 in the Championship game era, the last in 2009. Georgia has won 12 SEC titles, including 2 in the Championship era, the last in 2005.

Alabama leads the series 36-25-4 but they haven’t played since 2008. Alabama won that game 41-30 in Athens. This is the sixth time the teams have played in Atlanta, but not since 1942. The two teams first played in 1895.

Alabama is 11-1 overall and 7-1 in the SEC under Coach Nick Saban. The only loss came at home to Texas A&M 29-24.  The Crimson Tide have wins over Michigan 41-14 in Arlington, TX, home wins over Western Kentucky 35-0, Florida Atlantic 40-7, Ole Miss 33-14, Mississippi St 38-7,  Western Carolina 49-0 and 49-0 over Auburn as well. Alabama has road wins at Arkansas 52-0, Missouri 42-10, at Tennessee 44-13 and last week against LSU. The Crimson Tide are 6-6 ATS and the total is 5-5-1 this season. Alabama was a 34 point favorite against Auburn and the total was 46..

Alabama is averaging 433.9 yards per game on offense including 218.8 passing yards and 215.1 rushing yards. The Crimson Tide are #21 in rushing nationally. Alabama is outscoring opponents 39-9 this season. Alabama has 4 shutouts in 12 games. Alabama has forced 27 turnovers with 13 of their own. The Crimson Tide has 30 sacks and has allowed 20 this season. Alabama is 74/152 on third and fourth down conversions and 48/53 scoring in the red zone with 39 touchdowns. Alabama is allowing 233.7 total yards per game on defense, including 156.7 passing yards and 77 rushing yards per game. Alabama is in the top 3 nationally in all defensive categories. Crimson Tide opponents are 61/186 on third and fourth down conversions, and 14/23 scoring in the red zone with 11 touchdowns. Alabama has 3 defensive/special teams touchdowns.

Quarterback A.J. McCarron has completed 178/265 passes (67.2%) for 2,507 yards with 25 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Both interceptions came in the loss to Texas A&M.  He has been sacked 19 times this season and has one rushing touchdown. Running back Eddie Lacy has 164 carries, 1,001 yards, and 14 touchdowns, along with 18 catches for 165 yards and a touchdown. T.J. Yeldon has 129 carries, 847 yards and 10 touchdowns, along with 10 catches for 131 yards and a touchdown. Kenyan Drake has  39 carries for 273 yards, but 5 of them went for touchdowns. Receiver Amari Cooper has 45 catches, 767 yards and 8 touchdowns. Kenny Bell has 17 catches, 431 yards and 3 touchdowns. he is out for the season with a leg injury.  Kevin Norwood has 26 catches, 395 yards and 4 touchdowns. Christion Jones has 24 catches, 306 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also returns kicks and punts for the Tide and has a 99 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Five Alabama players are out for the season, including 2 running backs and 2 wide receivers.

Georgia is coached by Mark Richt. The only loss for the Bulldogs came at South Carolina 35-7. Georgia has won 6 straight games since then. The Bulldogs have home wins over Buffalo 45-23, Florida Atlantic 56-20, Vanderbilt 48-3, Tennessee 51-44, Ole Miss 37-10, Georgia Southern 45-14, and last week against Georgia Tech 42-10. Georgia has a win against Florida in Jacksonville 17-9, along with road wins at Missouri 41-20, Kentucky 29-24, and Auburn 38-0. Georgia is 6-6 ATS and the total is 5-6 this season. The Bulldogs were 14.5 point favorites against rival Georgia Tech and the total was 64.

Georgia is averaging 463.8 yards per game on offense, including 272.9 passing yards and 190.8 rushing yards. Georgia is outscoring opponents 38-18 this season. The Bulldogs are +9 in turnovers with 16 giveaways. Georgia averages 50.8 penalty yards per game and has allowed 22 sacks. Georgia is 72/157 on third and fourth down conversions and 35/41 scoring in the red zone with 30 touchdowns. On defense, the Bulldogs are allowing 337.8 total yards, including 173.9 passing yards and 163.9 rushing yards. The Bulldogs are in the top 25 nationally in total defense, against the pass, and in points allowed. Georgia has forced 25 turnovers and 24 sacks this season. Bulldog opponents are 71/199 on third and fourth down conversions and 25/35 scoring in the red zone with 18 touchdowns.

Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray has completed 213 of 320 passes (66.6%) for 3,201 yards with 30 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Murray has been sacked 21 times, but he does have 3 rushing touchdowns. Running back Todd Gurley has 176 carries, 1,138 yards, and 14 touchdowns, plus 12 catches for 110 yards. He has a kickoff return for a touchdown. Keith Marshall has 107 carries, 720 yards, and 8 touchdowns. Ken Malcome has 57 carries, 272 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Receiver Tavarres King has 34 catches, 704 yards, and 8 touchdowns. Malcolm Mitchell has 36 catches, 532 yards and 4 touchdowns. Marlon Brown and Michael Bennett are both out for the season with leg injuries. Each had 4 touchdown catches and at least 24 catches. Arthur Lynch, Chris Conley, Rantavious Wooten will also get significant catches. Conley has 4 touchdown catches. Lynch and Wooten each have 2 touchdowns.

Alabama is 6-0 ATS in neutral site games, 4-0 on fieldturf, 9-2 after scoring 40 points, 4-1 after allowing less than 100 rushing yards, 6-2 after allowing less than 170 passing yards, 14-5 after a straight up win of more than 20 points, 12-5 in SEC games, 9-4 after rushing for more than 200 yards, 1-4 against teams with winning records and after gaining more than 450 yards. The last 4 games in the series have gone over the total.

Georgia is 4-1 ATS after a straight up win, and overall, 9-4 after allowing less than 170 passing yards, 2-5 after a cover, in neutral site games, and on fieldturf.

Alabama has arguably the best defense in the nation, although folks in South Bend might disagree. Georgia does have a lot of offensive fire power and their defense is good if not great. The Bulldogs are vulnerable to the run. I think Georgia keeps it close but Alabama wins.

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