Georgia becomes favorite team to win on SI Sportsbook for National Championship
January 3, 2022
The Georgia Bulldogs have opened as 2.5-point favorites on SI Sportsbook, with an over/under of 52.5, just one day after No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia ran away with an overwhelming victory in the College Football Playoff quarterfinals.
Alabama defeated No. 4 Cincinnati, the first Group of 5 programs to make the College Football Playoff, 27–6 in the first semifinal on New Year's Eve. As the first non-Power Five clubs in the playoffs, the breakout Cincinnati performed well. Desmond Ridder's offense simply stopped too often Friday while attempting to match an overwhelming Crimson Tide running attack in a 27-6 loss that ended the last perfect season in FBS.
How it rolled out
Cincinnati (13-1) had a chance late in the third quarter when Bryan Cook intercepted Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young's ball near midfield with Alabama leading by 11. Ridder and Cincinnati took a step back after that, and Alabama (13-1) increased their lead to 24-6 on the next play after converting on third-and-16 to escape a three-and-out.
Late in the fourth quarter, with the game out of reach, the Bearcats failed again on fourth down. Ridder's ball fell incomplete, and he finished 17 of 32 for 144 yards, giving him his first sub-100 rating of the season (90.9).
Cincinnati averaged 2.8 yards per play while trailing 17-3 at the half. Alabama led the Bearcats by 302 yards at halftime, despite the Bearcats allowing 305 yards per game.
Brian Robinson Jr., a fifth-year senior at Alabama, had his first career 200-yard game, accounting for 204 of Alabama's season-high 301 yards on the ground. While Cincinnati was never really a threat to win, they didn’t let Alabama embarrass them amid the debate over whether non-Power Five teams belong in the playoff.
Cincinnati had more than 30 seniors on its roster as it transitioned from a New Year's Six bowl defeat to Georgia on a last-second field goal last season to this season's historic run. It will enter next season with a reconfigured team, looking to continue a 20-game regular-season winning streak that includes a pair of victories in American Athletic Conference championship games.
Alabama is set to play in their sixth national championship game in the eight seasons of the College Football Playoff, led by a stout defensive effort that limited the Bearcats to just 76 total yards in the first half.
Meanwhile, Georgia defeated No. 2 Michigan 34–11 behind 310 yards and three touchdowns from Stetson Bennett. Bulldogs fans serenaded the Orange Bowl with "S-E-C" cheers after securing a rematch of the SEC championship game with Alabama.
Alabama defeated then-No. 1 Georgia 41–24 in the conference championship game on December 4. Bryce Young, the first Alabama quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy, passed for 421 yards and three touchdowns.
The two SEC rivals will square off in the Playoff's second national championship game. Alabama won an overtime thriller 26–23 in 2018, with Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa earning Offensive MVP honors.
Alabama defeated Ohio State 52–24 in last year's championship game and will strive to become the first repeat champion since Nick Saban led the Crimson Tide to consecutive BCS national championships in ‘11 and ‘12.