No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 2 Alabama

No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 2 Alabama: Nick Saban Will Not Coach | 2020 NCAAF Expert Analysis

Written by on October 16, 2020

It’s the biggest college football game of the 2020 regular season so far and easily the biggest in the SEC this year when No. 3 Georgia visits No. 2 Alabama on Saturday with the Tide as short favorites despite the fact they will be without Coach Nick Saban after he tested positive for COVID-19.

How to Bet Georgia at Alabama NCAA Football Odds & TV Info

  • When: Saturday, 8 PM ET
  • Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium
  • TV: CBS
  • Stream:com
  • Radio:com
  • Opening NCAAF Lines: Alabama -4  – (total 56.5)

Series History

This will be the 70th meeting between the schools, the first in the regular season and first at Bryant-Denny Stadium since 2007. Alabama holds a 40-25-4 (.609) all-time advantage and is riding a five-game winning streak over UGA that includes two SEC Championship wins and one College Football Playoff national championship win. Georgia head coach and former Tide defensive coordinator Kirby Smart is 0-2 against the Crimson Tide.

Why Bet on Georgia? | 2020 NCAAF Expert Analysis

The Dawgs (3-0) rallied for a 44-21 win over then-No. 14 Tennessee last Saturday. UGA outscored the Vols 27-0 in the second half. It was the second year in a row that Georgia has shut Tennessee out in the second half.

Georgia linebacker Monty Rice, who forced a fourth-quarter fumble and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown, produced more points than the Volunteers did in the second half. Rice led Georgia with eight tackles, including two for loss. UGA’s defense allowed just 3.4 yards per play, and the Vols were 4 of 17 on third down. Overall, the Vols had minus-1 rushing yard and 214 total yards. Georgia tallied 431 yards of offense: 238 passing and 193 rushing.

Quarterback Stetson Bennett completed 16-of-27 passes for 238 total yards with two passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown. Jack Podlesny made a career-best three field goals, including a new career-long 51-yarder that came in the third quarter. He was also perfect on five PATs.

Bennett, a former walk-on, wasn’t supposed to start this season but has clearly taken hold of the job. Bennett has completed 63 percent of his passes and tallied five touchdown throws and has no interceptions. Also of note, he has completed 18 of 25 passes (72 percent) on third downs for 239 yards and three scores while only getting sacked once during those snaps. His Total QBR of 93.1 ranks third among FBS players, behind Ole Miss’ Matt Corral and Alabama’s Mac Jones.

In this one, the Bulldogs will be facing their third Top-15 foe in a row. The last time the Bulldogs faced three Top-25 teams in a row in three consecutive weeks came in 2018. Georgia’s last win over a team ranked as high as No. 2 came in the 2018 College Football Playoff Semifinal when the Bulldogs defeated No. 2 Oklahoma 54-48 in overtime in the Rose Bowl Game.

Why Bet on Alabama? | 2020 NCAAF Expert Analysis

The Tide (3-0) won 63-48 at Ole Miss last Saturday. The win moved Alabama head coach Nick Saban to 21-0 against his former assistants during his time as the head coach of the Crimson Tide as Ole Miss is coached by Lane Kiffin.

Najee Harris carried 23 times for a career-high 206 yards and five rushing touchdowns. His 200-plus yard performance was the 19th 200-plus yard outing by a Crimson Tide rusher in program history while the five touchdowns tied for the UA all-time mark in a single game. Mac Jones was efficient through the air, going 28-of-32 for 417 yards and two touchdowns. He found receiver DeVonta Smith 13 times for 164 yards and a touchdown, tying the senior for the all-time mark for catches in a single game. Also eclipsing the 100-yard marker was Jaylen Waddle as he caught six balls for 120 yards.

It was Saban’s 202nd career regular season victory in Southeastern Conference play. That passed Vince Dooley (Georgia, 1964-88) for third all-time in conference history. Saban trails only the 206 by Steve Spurrier and 292 by Paul “Bear” Bryant. Saban has been dominant in the month of October during his time in Tuscaloosa. Saban has compiled a 46-2 (.958) mark with the only two losses coming on the road during that time.

However, in a stunner Saban will not be on the sideline for Saturday after he tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday – he’s feeling fine. Offensive coordinator and former USC and Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian will run the show on Saturday. Sarkisian is the only member of Alabama’s staff with Division I head coaching experience aside from offensive line coach Kyle Flood, who went 27-24 leading Rutgers from 2012-15.

Saban won’t be allowed to be in the stadium or talk to Sarkisian via phone, etc. during the game. It will be the first time since the end of the 2006 season that Saban will not coach a game.

A copy of the 2020 NCAA Football Play Interpretations makes clear that no such communication would be allowed when a coach is away under quarantine. “Rule 1-4-11-b is very specific and allows only voice communication between the press box and the team area, therefore … a coach could not call into the press box or sideline for anything related to coaching purposes,” the ruling states.

Alabama brings a 33-game home winning streak into this one and has won27 straight overall against SEC East Division schools. Under Saban, the Tide are 37-3 (.925) against the SEC East, including a 6-1 (.857) record in the SEC Championship Game.

Alabama will be making its NCAA-leading 48th (30-17, .638) appearance on ESPN’s College GameDay. Since the start of the 2008 season, the Crimson Tide have posted a 30-11 (.732) overall record against top-10 teams, including a 15-5 (.750) mark versus the top 10 since the inception of the College Football Playoff. Again, those were all with Saban. Since 2014, the start of the College Football Playoff era, Alabama has only lost one game by 13-plus points.

Game Trends

  • Bulldogs are 6-2 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
  • Bulldogs are 20-7 ATS in their last 27 road games.
  • Bulldogs are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games overall.
  • Crimson Tide are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
  • Crimson Tide are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 games following a ATS win.

Expert Prediction

  • Alabama 27, Georgia 24
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