Bryan Altman, CBS Local Sports
Five years and 72 games ago. That’s the last time that the Alabama Crimson Tide kicked off a football game and weren’t favored to beat the team across the field from them, whether they were in the friendly confines of Bryant-Denny Stadium or on the road.
Georgia opened the week as a one-point favorite over the Tide, due in large part to Alabama’s 43-37 loss at home to Ole Miss two weeks ago and have since gone up to a 2.5-point favorite on most betting lines.
The last time the Crimson Tide were underdogs was in 2009, when they squared off against the Florida Gators in the SEC Championship game, which they went on to win 32-13 after going off as 4.5-point underdogs.
Of course, the line can shift as the week goes along depending on where the money falls on the game, but as of now Alabama’s historic streak is set to end at 72 games. As surprising as it may seem on first glance, Mike Tenay, host of sports betting podcast “Prof. Vegas” on Play.It isn’t shocked that Alabama is the underdog for their game against Georgia.
“I am not surprised at all by the line in Georgia-Alabama,” Tenay told CBS Local Sports. “When the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas released their big college games way back in late June, they made this game pick ’em.”
So people aren’t shocked that the streak is over, but now the question is, is this just their streak of being favorites that’s ending, or is it a sign that their run atop the SEC could be nearing an end?
“Historically, Las Vegas line makers are ahead of the curve when it comes to recognizing high profile teams that are trending downwards,” Tenay said of Alabama. “By comparison, the mainstream media is usually late to the party. Alabama’s second straight loss to Mississippi on Sept. 19 confirmed the thoughts of many that the Crimson Tide are no longer the national or SEC dynasty team. When Nick Saban was compiling his 18-2 record in revenge games in his SEC years, he had a talent advantage in addition to often exploiting his coaching edge. That talent disparity is no longer there.”
Saturday night’s showdown in Athens, Georgia will go a long way toward determining whether the demise of Alabama is greatly exaggerated, or, whether the claims are founded and the Tide are on the decline.
Alabama owns a 37-25 all-time edge over Georgia and has won the last two times the teams have met – including in 2012 when Alabama beat the Bulldogs 32-28 to win the SEC Championship.
However, Tenay is throwing his money behind the Bulldogs even though history is on the Tide’s side.
“Alabama players went public that they hoped they were the betting line underdogs,” Tenay said. “Georgia is 4-0, but you have to question the level of competition they’ve faced. South Carolina was the best of the four Georgia victims … ’nuff said. Essentially Georgia’s season starts this Saturday. It’s also the start of a crucial three game stretch for the Bulldogs, with Tennessee and Missouri on deck.
“Georgia’s current defensive coordinator and linebackers coach were on the Alabama sideline for the 2012 SEC Championship game against the Bulldogs. Georgia’s run game looks strong as does their defensive front. UGA QB Grayson Lambert doesn’t have to win the game, just make sure he doesn’t lose it. I believe Alabama has issues and questions at quarterback. In Bama’s last twenty games they are 15-5. I prefer Georgia.”
Either way the game goes, one thing is for sure: Alabama made history, and throwing around the ‘D’ word isn’t remotely far-fetched.
“The streak of being favored in 72 straight games is obviously very impressive from a historical standpoint,” Tenay said. “It’s the longest in many years and just drives home the point that this Alabama program WAS a dynasty.”
Bryan Altman is, for some reason, an unabashed fan of the Rangers, Jets and Mets. If he absolutely had to pick a basketball team it would be the Knicks, but he’d gladly trade them for just one championship for either of his other three teams.