Ryan Mayer

The college football bowl season is nearly finished. 39 games have come and gone over the past several weeks and we’ve done our best (20-18-1 ATS) to add to your holiday haul. Now, just one game remains: the national championship. All lines and totals courtesy of Sportsline. Find all our picks here. All lines are as of the date of publication

National Championship Game

#4 Alabama (12-1) vs. #3 Georgia (13-1)

Spread: Alabama -4.5

Total: 45.5

Spread: A pair of SEC teams in the national championship game. Not something that I expected after seeing the semi-finals announced, but here we are. The main reason Alabama is here is because its defense re-gained the form we’ve been used to seeing, absolutely smothering Clemson’s rushing attack. It certainly helped that Tigers QB Kelly Bryant proved ineffective at best throwing the ball, allowing the Tide to continuously attack the line of scrimmage with abandon, and shut down the run. The Tide gave up just 64 yards on 33 carries (1.9 YPC) to the Tigers and they forced a pair of turnovers that they turned into 14 points. The turnovers were crucial because Bama’s offense struggled to move the ball against a stout Clemson front seven, generating just 261 total yards and 141 rushing yards on 42 attempts (3.4 YPC). The Tide offensive line isn’t as dominant as it has been in the past which will be interesting to watch against a Georgia front that found its rhythm in the second half of the Rose Bowl.

Georgia’s defensive numbers look awful from the Rose Bowl, allowing 48 points and 531 yards to the Sooners. But, 31 of those points and 360 of those yards came in the first half. Credit Kirby Smart for making adjustments at halftime to hold the Sooners offense to just 10 points (they got a defensive TD) and 171 yards over the course of the second half and two overtimes. Linebacker Roquan Smith in particular played like a man possessed in the second half as he racked up nine of his 11 tackles in the second half including a pair of crucial stops late in the game. The Georgia running game was ridiculously effective against the Sooners with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel each averaging over 10 yards per carry en route to 140+ yard performances with six combined touchdowns. QB Jake Fromm showed great poise, going 20 for 29 for 210 yards and two touchdowns, and leading the team to a game-tying score on the final drive of regulation. Whether he can maintain a similar poise against Alabama when the running game isn’t as effective will be something to watch.

Based on the semi-final performances, these certainly look like the two best teams in the country. Georgia’s defense will give the Tide plenty of problems, but in the end I think Jalen Hurts makes one or two more plays than Fromm does. Alabama -4.5

Total: The Bulldogs 54-48 score in the Rose Bowl was an aberration on both sides. The defense will likely perform closer to its second half numbers, while the offense will have a tough time replicating its success against a much tougher Alabama defense. This has the feel of a 24-14 type of affair with solid defensive play on both sides than the shootouts we’ve seen in the past two year’s national championship games. Under 45.5