College Football Betting

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NCAA Football Championship Betting Preview

This Monday’s National Championship game (8 PM ET, ESPN) will be the eighth under the CFP format, and while this might not be the perfect way to determine a champion, it’s been a big improvement over the old BCS system. Every year has given us an absolute must-see matchup; the 2021-22 edition will be no different, as the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide defend their title against the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Here’s a closer look at what you’ll find on the NCAA odds board at Bovada Sportsbook as we go to press.

NCAA Football Championship Odds

As expected, the 2022 CFP National Championship will be a rematch of this year’s SEC title game – and a rematch of the 2018 Championship, where the Crimson Tide came back to defeat Georgia 26-23 in overtime as 5-point favorites. Things are different this time, though; it’s the Bulldogs laying three points after opening at –2.5, with the total pegged at 52 – roughly seven points higher than it was four years ago.

Virtually all the players in this game will be different too, but this is college football, where the head coach is by far the most important person in the stadium. Nick Saban has been in charge of the Crimson Tide since 2007 and he’s delivered six National Championships to Tuscaloosa, including three under the CFP format. Kirby Smart was Saban’s defensive coordinator for the first four title runs; he’s been the Bulldogs’ head coach since 2016 and is still looking for a way to get past Alabama.

Let’s break down each of these two college football powerhouses, starting with the moneyline favorites at Bovada Sportsbook.

1. Georgia Bulldogs (–140)

The Bulldogs (13-1 SU, 9-5 ATS) spent almost the entire FBS season as the No. 1 team in the polls – until they lost the SEC title game, where Alabama beat them 41-24 as 6.5-point underdogs at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The result knocked Georgia down to No. 3 in the CFP rankings, however, they were still the 7.5-point favorites when they met the No. 2 Michigan Wolverines in the semifinals at the Orange Bowl and the ‘Dawgs had no trouble winning that game 34-11.

Such was a significant win for Georgia. Overall, the Big Ten has been this year’s strongest conference among the Power 5, with Michigan at the top of the pile. But when it comes to individual teams, no one has performed better than the Bulldogs. They’ve got the nation’s best defense on paper, holding teams to just 258.6 combined yards and 9.6 points per game. Georgia’s offense is less heralded, but remains one of the top units in college, and the special teams have done a very good job of not giving their opponents short fields to work with at the start of drives.

There are weaknesses to exploit in all three facets of the game, though. The injury-plagued Bulldogs secondary is the weakest part of their defense, as we saw in the SEC title game, where Alabama racked up 421 passing yards and a pair of long touchdowns. The offense, while balanced, is putting its faith in senior QB Stetson Bennett IV, a former walk-on who took over for the injured JT Daniels in Week 2. And the special teams haven’t seen much production in the return game, neither on punts nor kick-offs.

2. Alabama Crimson Tide (+120)

It’s remarkable that the Tide (13-1 SU, 8-6 ATS) are still +120 to win the title on Bovada’s College Football odds board, just like they were heading into the CFP semifinals. That says a lot about Alabama’s Cotton Bowl opponents, the No. 4 Cincinnati Bearcats. The ‘Cats were undefeated coming out of the AAC, but they played like the mid-major team they are, losing 27-6 as 13-point underdogs in a game where they amassed just 218 total yards.

There were legitimate concerns about Alabama’s ability to cover that matchup. The Tide had dropped three of their previous four against the spread heading into the SEC title game and needed a miracle comeback to defeat the Auburn Tigers (+21 at home) 24-22 in overtime at the Iron Bowl. But everything’s gone according to Saban’s plan since then, and now he gets to face a Bulldogs team that he’s beaten all four times since Smart took over as head coach.

The key battle on Monday will be Alabama’s offense versus Georgia’s defense. The Tide have a stronger scoring punch than their opponents; QB Bryce Young took home the Heisman Award after throwing 43 touchdown passes, then he added another three in their win over Cincinnati. Alabama’s offensive line, which has struggled at points during the season, impressed against Georgia’s formidable front seven, allowing Young and his receivers to take full advantage of that thin Bulldogs secondary.

There is one notable difference for the rematch: ‘Bama WR John Metchie III is unavailable after tearing his ACL during the first game against Georgia – a game where he already had six catches for 97 yards and a touchdown too. With Metchie out of the picture, the Bulldogs secondary can focus more on WR Jameson Williams, who torched them for both those long TDs in their first meeting.

If there is any serious weakness on either side of this contest, it’s with Alabama’s special teams, which have been among the nation’s worst in punting and preventing field goals. Ultimately, Georgia will have to find ways to outscore Alabama; the Tide defense isn’t quite as capable as their offense, although the Bearcats didn’t provide much of a test in the semifinals. If Bennett throws another pair of picks like he did at the SEC title game, Saban will almost certainly add another National Championship to his collection.

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