The SEC Championship game, which acts as a national semifinal game and features two of the top four teams in both our current College Football Power Rankings and our preseason preview, also provides a great opportunity for value both on the side (against-the-spread) and the total (over/under). The simple reason is that Alabama, which has actually been the top team in our power rankings every week since August of 2011, would be favored by more than a touchdown on a neutral field over any team in college football. When we simulate each game 50,000 times in the Predictalator, that includes being a double-digit favorite over Notre Dame (their opponent in the BCS Championship game if the Crimson Tide wins this game) and Oregon (the second rank team in our power rankings) and an eight point favorite over Texas A&M, which won over Alabama in Tuscaloosa earlier this season. And that obviously includes this SEC Championship game against Georgia.
By the numbers, Alabama is 11-1 straight-up and 6-5 against-the-spread versus the 30th toughest FBS schedule this year. Before this game, the Crimson Tide has been favored in every game by at least 9.5 points. Three of the team's ATS losses have come as greater than 30-point favorites. Not only is Alabama the top team in the country according to our methodology that simulates every team against every other team in FBS college football (all 124) 50,000 times, the Crimson Tide rank in the top three nationally in all of our strength-of-schedule-adjusted efficiency metrics -- including offensive pass efficiency (No. 1), offensive rush efficiency (No. 2), defensive pass efficiency (No. 2) and defensive rush efficiency (No. 1). Even though he gets little credit for doing anything other than crying at the end of the LSU game, sophomore quarterback A.J. McCarron is not only having a good season, a strong case could be made that he is having the most efficient passing season of any quarterback in college football.
This certainly is more a pick for Alabama and not against Georgia, but the Bulldogs do have some concerns. On the season, UGA is also 11-1 SU and 6-5 ATS and has taken on the 46th ranked FBS schedule. Somehow, as we highlighted before the season, Georgia did not have to play LSU, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi State or Texas A&M from the SEC West. The Bulldogs currently rank fourth overall in our power rankings and are among the top 25 in all of our efficiency metrics -- but that's a far cry from the top three in each category. Georgia is No. 9 in pass efficiency, No. 2 in rush efficiency, No. 22 in pass defense efficiency and No. 14 in run defense efficiency. And, against common opponents, Alabama was 5-0 with an average score of 41.6-8.8, while Georgia was 5-0 with an average score of 44.6-18.8.
Alabama literally wins every head-to-head matchup in this game (not to mention the Crimson Tide is healthier, deeper and better coached). Georgia has been impressive, especially as of late with wins and covers in four straight games (the under has also covered in each of those blowouts). Expect all of those streaks to end in Atlanta on Saturday. According to 50,000 SEC Championship games simulated by the Predictalator, Alabama wins 68.7 percent of the time and by an average score of 35.0-22.1. As just a touchdown (seven points) favorite that essentially wins by two touchdowns, Alabama covers the spread 59.2 percent of the time, which would warrant a wager of $72 for a normal $50 player (52.4 percent confidence is needed just to break even). With a shootout expected between two teams that have not played too many games within two touchdowns, the OVER (50) covers 59.5 percent of the time. This would justify a $75 wager from a normal $50 player. The Alabama/OVER parlay has value, but please note that it only hits 35.2 percent of the time.