College Football Betting Advice: Georgia Bulldogs
The first College Football Playoff rankings came out this week, and Georgia has claimed the top overall spot. It's tough to argue too hard with that, and the team is way ahead of schedule in just the second year under Kirby Smart. Bettors still aren't really buying into the Bulldogs - BetOnline has Alabama heavily favored at -130 to win the national title, while Georgia is the third choice way back at +800 (Ohio State is the second choice at +350). So, while expectations need to be tempered somewhat - more for the postseason than the regular season, which they absolutely can sweep - this is a team very worthy of respect. How are they doing it? And what can we expect going forward? Here are five factors to consider going forward?:
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Challenging down the stretch: Georgia must have bribed the schedule makers, because they managed to avoid both Alabama and LSU this year. They have had a tough game or two - most notably that win at Notre Dame - but they certainly have been helped by their schedule. Things are very manageable the rest of the way, and if they do lose before playing Alabama in the SEC Championship then they will have no one to blame but themselves, but it is at least a somewhat challenging schedule down the stretch. If nothing else, they have games that could trip them up if they aren't mentally prepared. They play a South Carolina team next that isn't very good but which keeps finding ways to win games almost despite themselves. Then they travel to Auburn in a game that is their hardest remaining. They get a breather against Kentucky and then they finish at Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets aren't great this year, but they can run the ball like crazy, and that quirky offense is often a lot for Georgia to handle.
Defensive prowess: The Georgia defense is very strong and very balanced - third nationally against the pass and sixth against the run. That absolutely should not come as a surprise to anyone. Kirby Smart ran the Alabama defense for eight potent years. And defensive coordinator Mel Tucker has been a coordinator for three different NFL teams. His last stint with the Bears was disastrous, but you still can't question his experience and insight. Give those two the amount of defensive talent that they have to work with, and the results you expect are pretty much exactly what we are getting.
QB play: Here's all you need to know about the QB situation for the Bulldogs. Last week the team beat Florida 42-7 in a performance so dominant that it forced a coaching change for the Gators. Jake Fromm was the only QB for Georgia, and he went 4 for 7 for 101 yards with a touchdown and a pick. They are not a good passing team - they rank 112th nationally in passing yards per game - and they could not possibly care less. It is not relevant to them. Fromm is capable of putting up numbers when the situation warrants it - he was 18 of 26 for 326 yards against Missouri - but the team very rarely puts him in the situation to be the difference. And why would they? With the ridiculous 1-2 punch of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel at running back, freshman D'Andre Swift showing a lot when given the chance, and depth beyond that, the team knows what they do well, and they do it. Fromm can give them what they need, and they don't need much from the QB position. Some will try to make a story of the rough passing stats, but don't let them fool you.
Smart knows Saban: This is us getting ahead of ourselves here, but the team is on a bullet path to the SEC Championship Game and a battle with Alabama. A third of the season still remains, but it feels inevitable. And it seems like it will be a spectacular game. Part of what makes it so compelling is that no one on the planet knows Saban better. Smart knows how he thinks, how he prepares, and how he is vulnerable - at least if we are willing to believe for a second that Saban is actually vulnerable. The SEC Championship Game ultimately probably won't be as interesting as we hope, but if anyone can make it tough for the Tide it's Smart.
Betting performance: The Bulldogs are not just a perfect 8-0, but they have been pretty kind to bettors as well, sitting at 6-2 ATS. Neither of the games they didn't cover were disasters, either. They were favored by 33 against Samford, and they were up by 35 after three quarters before taking the foot off the gas, giving bench guys some time, and still winning by 28. The only people who are concerned by a game that ends like that are bettors who had the favorite. And against Missouri they were up 47-21 through three quarters and were on track to cover the 28.5-point spread, but again saw no reason to risk a serious injury to win by more, and they wound up winning by 25.
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