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Three key trends that will determine the CFP National Championship winner

Profile Picture: Dan Halverson

Dan Halverson

January 10th, 2022

The CFP National Championship Game between No. 3 Georgia and No. 1 Alabama is finally here, and it promises to be an electric matchup between two immensely talented teams.

We've spent the past week crunching numbers and poring over stats, and have identified three key trends that will determine which team will come out on top on Monday evening.

Tue, January 11 2022, 1:00 AM

Alabama

Moneyline

+112

Spread

+2.5

Total

O 52.5

Georgia

Moneyline

-137

Spread

-2.5

Total

U 52.5

1. Alabama excels as an underdog

 Ever since Nick Saban came to Alabama, the Crimson Tide have been among the most dominant dynasties in college football history. They have fielded elite teams for over a decade, won championships, and are perpetually expected to be a contender.

As such a dominant program, very rarely are the Tide listed as underdogs in the betting markets. This marks only the seventh time since Saban’s second season that the Tide are listed as underdogs, and they have been incredibly impressive each time in that role.

They are 5-1 ATS and straight-up in previous spots as the underdog, and in fact the last loss in such a role was all the way back in 2008 against a Florida team that won the national championship.

For over a decade, bookmakers have been very tentative to list Alabama as an underdog. And each time they have, it has been resoundingly proven to be a case of favoring the wrong team.

Alabama has the best talent in college football on an annual basis, and being listed as an underdog is something they don’t take lightly.

2. Georgia vs. Alabama has historically resulted in a win for the underdog

With Alabama and Georgia both being SEC members, this is hardly an unfamiliar matchup for either team.

While they aren’t scheduled to play each other every year because of the fact they're in opposite divisions, they have ended up playing one another approximately once every two years over the last decade-plus.

And dating back to 2007 when Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa, the underdog has been 7-1 against the spread in this matchup. Georgia won the first matchup between the teams straight-up and Alabama has won every other, but the intensity of the matchup has given the underdog the upper hand most of the time.

Getting points in a matchup that features elite talent is an advantage, and Alabama has an excellent opportunity to continue this trend in the title game.

3. The team with the best decision-maker usually wins

The last time Alabama won the turnover battle and lost the football game was the absolutely thrilling National Championship Game against Clemson in 2016, when the Tigers coughed up the ball twice on a pair of fumbles. In the five years since, none of their losses have involved a game in which they gave away extra possessions to the other team.

This speaks to the dominance of the Tide. It also brings up an interesting element of this game, with Alabama having a better decision-maker in the pocket.

Heisman-trophy winning quarterback Bryce Young threw just five interceptions in 490 attempts, an elite 1% interception ratio. His counterpart, Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett, threw seven interceptions in 261 attempts, a 2.6% ratio.

In big games between elite defenses, great plays are imperative, but so too are avoiding poor ones. History tells us that if the Crimson Tide win the turnover margin, they should win the game. It's that simple.

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