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  1. #151  
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    Monday, January 1



    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Rose Bowl betting preview and odds: Georgia vs Oklahoma
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    Georgia Bulldogs vs. Oklahoma Sooners (+2.5, 61)


    Game to be played at Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California


    Oklahoma brings the nation’s fourth-best scoring offense into the Rose Bowl and the College Football Playoff semifinal on Jan. 1 against a Georgia team boasting the fourth-best defense in the country. Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield threw 41 touchdown passes en route to 4,340 yards through the air to help the Sooners average 44.9 points per contest, but Georgia - led by linebacker and Butkus Award winner Roquan Smith - has held opponents to 158.3 yards passing per game while giving up just 13.2 points per contest. The winner could be who handles the other team’s strength the best: Georgia has not faced a passing attack the caliber of Oklahoma’s, but the Sooners’ offense has not lined up against a defense like the Bulldogs.


    The Bulldogs are two wins from their first national championship since the 1980 season, in part because of an improved offensive line and the one-two punch of senior running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Chubb is second on the SEC’s all-time rushing list and sits at 1,175 yards on the ground this season while Michel is 52 yards away from 1,000, and both have rushed for 13 touchdowns. Having two strong running backs has paid big dividends for freshman quarterback Jake Fromm, who effectively has navigated the offense after taking over for the injured Jacob Eason on opening day.


    Both teams reached the semifinals directed by young head coaches who earned their stripes as outstanding coordinators. There was plenty of uncertainty around the Sooners when longtime coach Bob Stoops suddenly stepped down in early June, but 34-year-old offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley has thrived after being thrust into the head coaching role. At Georgia, Kirby Smart returned to his alma mater in 2016 after directing defenses on multiple national championship teams at Alabama, and followed up last year’s eight-win campaign with the Bulldogs first SEC championship since 2005.

    TV:
    5 p.m. ET, ESPN.

    LINE HISTORY:
    The Sooners opened as 1-point chalk and money coming in on the SEC champ Bulldogs saw that line jump the fence to Georgia -2.5 at most books. The total hit the betting board at 60 and has been bet up a full point to 61.

    WHAT SHARPS SAY:
    "Oklahoma is by far the worst defensive team in the Final 4 playoffs, allowing almost twice as many points per game as the other three teams. However, the Sooners have the most explosive offense which makes them a dangerous team. QB Baker Mayfield and company average an incredible 12.0 yards per pass, which means they average more than a first down on every pass attempt this year. The winner of this game will be approximately a 3-point underdog in the championship game next week versus the Alabama/Clemson winner, according to the advance lines." - Steve Merril.

    INJURY REPORT:



    Georgia - DB Malkom Parrish (Probable, Lower Body), FB Christian Payne (Probable, Undisclosed), RB Sony Michel (Probable, Knee), DB Latavious Brini (Questionable, Disciplinary), DB Deangelo Gibbs (Questionable, Undisclosed), WR Jayson Stanley (Questionable, Possible Suspension), LB Natrez Patrick (Out, Personal).


    Oklahoma - QB Baker Mayfield (Probable, Illness), RB Rodney Anderson (Probable, Personal), DT Matt Romar (Out Indefinitely, Undisclosed).

    WEATHER REPORT:
    71 and partly cloudy at kickoff - 2 to 3 mph winds throughout the game

    ABOUT GEORGIA (12-1 SU, 9-4 ATS, 5-8 O/U):
    Fromm’s confidence has increased throughout the season, and he ranks second in the SEC in passing efficiency and third with 21 passing touchdowns. Chubb and Michel front the offense, but freshman D’Andre Swift rushed for 597 yards and led the Bulldogs with 88 and a touchdown in the SEC title game victory over Auburn. The Bulldogs defense held opponents to 14 points or fewer 10 times, and ranks eighth in the country in defensive pass efficiency.

    ABOUT OKLAHOMA (12-1 SU, 8-5 ATS, 7-6 O/U):
    The Sooners dodged a bullet with running back Rodney Anderson, who gained a team-best 960 yards this season, when no charges were filed following a rape accusation. Mayfield’s top targets are tight end Mark Andrews, the Mackey Award winner who has eight touchdown receptions, and receiver Marquise Brown, who is 19 yards shy of 1,000 for the season. The Sooners defense allowed 144.2 yards on the ground and gave up 20 or fewer points three times in their last four games.

    CONSENSUS:
    The public is siding with the Big 12 champion Sooners at a rate of 55 percent and the Over is getting 64 percent of the totals action.
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  2. #152  
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    Monday, January 1



    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Allstate Sugar Bowl betting preview and odds: Alabama vs. Clemson
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    Alabama Crimson Tide vs Clemson Tigers (+3, 47.5)


    Game to be played at Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana


    Top-seeded Clemson and fourth-seeded Alabama are facing each other in the College Football Playoff for the third consecutive season when they square off in the semifinals at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Jan. 1. The Crimson Tide defeated the Tigers in the national title game two seasons ago before departed Deshaun Watson led Clemson on a dramatic game-winning drive in last season's championship game. "I think it's only fitting that to have a chance to advance to Atlanta (for the final), you've got a heavyweight matchup here with Clemson and Alabama," Tigers coach Dabo Swinney told reporters.


    Clemson's only blemish this season was a loss to Syracuse but the Tigers recovered well to leave no doubt that they were one of the nation's top four teams. It was a bit more complicated for the Crimson Tide as they lost to Auburn and didn't reach the SEC title game before landing the final spot over Ohio State. "I really do believe that based on the total body of work, that our team really deserved the opportunity to be in," Alabama coach Nick Saban told reporters.


    The Crimson Tide's vaunted defense was torched by Watson (825 passing yards and seven touchdowns plus one rushing score) in the past two seasons and all eyes will be on Clemson junior quarterback Kelly Bryant. Alabama ranks first in scoring defense (11.5) and second in total defense (257.8) and Bryant (2,678 yards, 13 touchdowns passing; 646 yards and 11 scores rushing) can remove himself from the shadow of Watson's performances by leading his own title run. "The quarterback now may be a better runner, if that's possible, than the guy we played the last two years," Saban said at a press conference.

    TV:
    8:45 p.m. ET, ESPN.

    LINE HISTORY:
    Oddsmakers opened Bama as 2-point chalk and money coming in on the Crimson Tide has pushed that number up to a field goal. The total hit the board at 47 and is up slightly at most shops to 47.5. Check out the complete line history here.

    WHAT SHARPS SAY:
    "Despite being the #4 seed, Alabama is favored over the #1 seed Clemson and the Tide are the overall favorite to win the NCAA Football championship. Money has pushed this line higher as it opened -2 a few weeks ago, but then hit the key number of -3, with a few sportsbooks now starting to show -3.5. Clemson has matched up well the past two years against Alabama, but the Tigers are now without QB Deshaun Watson who accounted for over 80% of Clemson's total offensive yards in those past two meetings. The winner of this game will be approximately a 3-point favorite over the Georgia/Oklahoma winner next week, according to the advance lines." - Steve Merril.

    INJURY REPORT:



    Alabama - DB Deionte Thompson (Probable, Knee), DB Minkah Fitzpatrick (Probable, Hamstring), OL Brandon Kennedy (Questionable, Ankle), DL Labryan Ray (Questionable, Foot), DB Nigel Knott (Questionable, Undisclosed), LB Dylan Moses (Out Indefinitely, Foot), DB Hootie Jones (Out For Season, Knee).


    Clemson - CB Mark Fields (Probable, Foot), LB Tre Lamar (Questionable, Shoulder), LB Chad Smith (Questionable, Calf), LB Judah Davis (Out For Season, Knee).

    WEATHER REPORT:
    Dome

    ABOUT ALABAMA (11-1 SU, 5-7 ATS, 5-7 O/U):
    Sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts (768 rushing yards, eight touchdowns) is a superb runner but his passing issues again popped up when he went 12-of-22 for 112 yards in the loss to Auburn, although he said he and his teammates are motivated to excel after the long layoff. "I think we got a little more time to heal up, a little more time to focus on the things we need to focus on," Hurts, who passed for 1,940 yards and 15 touchdowns, told reporters. "How can we show the world we've learned? How far have we come? I think we're trying to get better now." First-team All-American strong safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (52 tackles, one interception) is the leader of the sturdy defense that also regularly receives stellar outings from junior free safety Ronnie Harrison (team-best 68 tackles, tied for team lead with three interceptions) and sophomore defensive end Raekwon Davis (team-high 6.5 sacks).

    ABOUT CLEMSON (12-1 SU, 8-4-1 ATS, 4-8-1 O/U):
    The Tigers have been nearly as good as the Crimson Tide on defense as they rank second in scoring defense (12.8) and sixth in total defense (277.9). First-team All-American defensive end Clelin Ferrell (the sophomore had a team-high 8.5 sacks among his 17 tackles for losses) is one of the headliners along with two second-team All-Americans -- junior defensive tackle Christian Wilkins (47 tackles, 4.5 sacks) and senior linebacker Dorian O'Daniel (team-best 99 tackles, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries). Offensively, junior wideout Hunter Renfrow -- who caught the winning score in last season's title game -- has a team-best 55 receptions, while freshman Travis Etienne (744 yards, 13 touchdowns) and sophomore Tavien Feaster (659, seven) share the rushing duties.

    CONSENSUS:
    The public is siding with the Tigers at a rate of 52 percent and the Over is getting 64 percent of the totals action
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  3. #153  
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    MONDAY, JANUARY 1
    GAME TIME(ET) PICK UNITS



    MICH at SOCAR 12:00 PM
    SOCAR +9.0
    U 42.0


    UCF at AUB 12:30 PM
    AUB -12.0
    O 67.0


    ND at LSU 01:00 PM
    ND +3.0
    U 51.5



    UGA at OKLA 05:00 PM
    OKLA +3.0
    U 61.0



    ALA at CLEM 08:45 PM
    ALA -3.0
    O 47.0
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  4. #154  
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    Bowl roundup: UCF upends Auburn to cap perfect season
    January 1, 2018



    PASADENA, Calif. -- Lorenzo Carter's block of an Austin Seibert field-goal attempt in double-overtime set the stage for Sony Michel's game-winning, 27-yard touchdown run, and No. 3 Georgia outlasted No. 2 Oklahoma 54-48 in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Rose Bowl.


    Michel -- the Offensive Player of the Game -- rushed for 181 yards, scored three touchdowns on the ground and a fourth receiving, and gained redemption for an earlier miscue in the first overtime game in Rose Bowl history.


    Georgia (13-1) will play Southeastern Conference East rival Alabama for the College Football National Championship on Jan. 8 in Atlanta.


    The Bulldogs fell behind 45-38 when Oklahoma defensive back Steven Parker scooped up a Michel fumble, walked a tightrope and ran the ball 46 yards for a touchdown.


    Running back Nick Chubb scored the second of his two rushing touchdowns for Georgia on a 2-yard direct snap to force overtime at 45-45. Chubb contributed 145 yards rushing to the Bulldogs' 502 total yards of offense. Oklahoma (12-2) got 201 rushing yards and two touchdowns from Rodney Anderson.


    No. 4 Alabama 24, No. 1 Clemson 6


    NEW ORLEANS -- Nose guard Da'Ron Payne and linebacker Mack Wilson intercepted passes on back-to-back possessions in the third quarter, keying a ferocious second-half defensive assault that produced a pair of touchdowns in a 13-second span to power No. 4 Alabama past No. 1 Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinal in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.


    After Payne's interception, he caught a 1-yard touchdown pass in the right corner of the end zone from quarterback Jalen Hurts, putting Alabama up 17-6. On the first play after the kickoff, Wilson raced 18 yards untouched for a pick-six.


    Even though Alabama (12-1) gained just 260 yards in total offense, Clemson (12-2) finished with only 188. Alabama sacked quarterback Kelly Bryant five times and hurried him repeatedly.


    No. 10 UCF 34, No. 7 Auburn 27


    ATLANTA -- Central Florida completed an improbable unbeaten season in coach Scott Frost's farewell game, striking a blow for non-Power Five Conference schools.


    McKenzie Milton passed for two touchdowns and ran for a third as the 10th-ranked Knights finished 13-0 three seasons after going winless, holding on for a victory over the seventh-ranked Tigers in the 50th Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.


    UCF sacked Jarrett Stidham six times and had two interceptions, including an end-zone pick by Antwan Collier in the closing seconds.


    Chequan Burkett had a 45-yard touchdown return of a Stidham interception with just under six minutes remaining to give UCF a two-touchdown lead after the Knights had gone ahead on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Milton to Dredrick Snelson early in the fourth quarter.


    No. 14 Notre Dame 21, No. 16 LSU 17


    ORLANDO, Fla. -- Miles Boykin turned a one-handed sideline catch into a 55-yard touchdown pass from Ian Book with 1:28 left, and No. 14 Notre Dame pulled out a Citrus Bowl victory over No. 16 LSU.


    Boykin caught three passes for 102 yards and was selected the game's MVP.


    Book replaced starter Brandon Wimbush late in the first half when the game was scoreless. Book completed 14 of 19 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns.


    Notre Dame (10-3) won after being outgained and committing two turnovers, only one of which turned into LSU points. Jack Gonsoulin's 17-yard field goal gave LSU (9-4) a 17-14 lead with 2:03 left.


    South Carolina 26, Michigan 19


    TAMPA, Fla. -- South Carolina overcame a 16-point deficit late in the third quarter and got big plays from Jake Bentley to rally for an Outback Bowl win over Michigan.


    The Gamecocks (9-4) recovered a Michigan fumble at their 4-yard line to stop one drive, then scored three consecutive touchdowns to take the lead.


    Michigan had four second-half turnovers, the last when Steven Montac intercepted a pass with 1:12 remaining.


    Rico Dowdle ran 17 yards for a score and Bentley threw a 21-yard pass to Bryan Edwards in a span of 94 seconds late in the third quarter to pull South Carolina within three. Then Bentley threw a 53-yard score to freshman Shi Smith for a 23-19 lead with 11:33 to play.


    Michigan (8-5) lost its final three games, including two in the regular season to Top 10 opponents Wisconsin and Ohio State.
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    National Championship Notes
    January 2, 2018



    The Alabama Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs are the last two teams standing in the quest for the 2017 National Championship. They'll meet at the brand-new Mercedes-Benz Stadium right in the heart of SEC Country, marking the second time the SEC has put two teams in the National Championship Game.


    Tide Rolling Through the Dawgs


    Nick Saban has had a history of beating the snot out of everyone in the SEC, and Georgia isn't an exception. These two teams don't play all that often anymore, meeting just three times since 2007. Heck, Georgia hasn't even visited Tuscaloosa since 2007.


    That hasn't stopped the Crimson Tide from creaming the Bulldogs. They've won each of the last three meetings, most of which have come in relatively comfortable fashion. In 2015, the last meeting of these squads, the Bulldogs were 1.5-point favorites at home. It was the last time Alabama happened to be an underdog in a game. The Crimson Tide won 38-10 and have literally never stopped to look back at the rest of the SEC since that point.


    Since the 2010 National Championship Game against Texas, Alabama has been favored in every single game it has played in save for that one against Georgia in 2015.


    Running it Up


    Georgia was never going to win a playoff game without the help of its defense and its running game. Though the Bulldogs surrendered 48 points to Oklahoma, a dominant stretch in the third quarter after a bad first half got them back into the game, and the rushing attack finished things off.


    Jake Fromm made some throws, too, but he really didn't have much in the way of pressure on his shoulders throughout the Sugar Bowl. Sony Michel and Nick Chubb became the all-time leading duo of rushers in FBS history during the Rose Bowl, and they certainly both got their money's worth in that game. The two combined to run for 326 yards and five touchdowns on just 25 carries. Michel also had four catches for 41 yards and a touchdown.


    Keep this in mind, though: Georgia's two backs ran for 326 yards. Alabama allowed 326 yards in every four games that it played this year. Not a single back ran for as many yards against the Crimson Tide as either Chubb or Michel had against Oklahoma. Good luck replicating that success in this one, UGA.


    Fromm Entering Rare Territory


    Last year, Jalen Hurts put up what was largely considered to be the best year a true freshman quarterback had in the history of college football. That said, he came up one game short of the goal of becoming the second true frosh quarterback ever to win a National Championship. Of course, that wasn't his fault; when Hurts left the field against Clemson late in the fourth quarter, he had the lead. His defense gave it back.

    Enter: Jake Fromm



    Fromm wasn't even supposed to see the field this season, and there was a decent chance he was going to be redshirted. Instead, Jacob Eason got hurt in the opener, and Fromm had his number called. He upset Notre Dame in South Bend in Week 2 and never looked back. Now, he's the only true freshman to ever win the Rose Bowl, and he can join Jamelle Holieway as the only other man to lead a team to a National Championship in his first season as a collegiate athlete.


    National Championship Opening Odds
    Georgia Bulldogs +4
    Alabama Crimson Tide -4
    Over/Under 47.5

    Current National Championship Odds (Updated 1/2)

    Georgia Bulldogs +4.5
    Alabama Crimson Tide -4.5
    Over/Under 46
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    CFB notebook: Kansas State coach Snyder reportedly will return in 2018
    January 2, 2018



    Bill Snyder reportedly plans to return to coach Kansas State for a 27th season.


    The 78-year-old Snyder told his coaching staff of his decision to return, according to K-State Online, which cited multiple sources.


    Snyder, in his second stint with the Wildcats, led the team to an 8-5 record this season, which was capped by a 35-17 victory over UCLA in the Cactus Bowl.


    It was the eighth consecutive bowl appearance for Kansas State under Snyder, who is 210-110-1 at the school.


    Snyder was diagnosed with throat cancer in February 2016, prompting speculation that he would retire a second time as the program's head coach.


    --Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson suffered a torn ACL in his right knee during the Music City Bowl on Friday night.


    Thorson, who was injured early in the second quarter of the Wildcats' 24-23 victory over Kentucky, is scheduled to undergo surgery in mid-January. No timetable was offered for Thorson's return.


    Three days before sustaining his injury, Thorson, a redshirt junior, announced he would return for his final season of eligibility at Northwestern rather than enter the 2018 NFL draft.


    --Gary Andersen, who parted ways with Oregon State in the middle of last season, is rejoining the Utah coaching staff as an associate head coach and defensive assistant.


    Andersen has been a head coach at three FBS schools -- Utah State (2009-12), Wisconsin (2013-14) and Oregon State (2015-17) -- since last being with the Utes.


    He was 1-5 with the Beavers before stepping away in October and leaving behind about $12.6 million in guaranteed money.

    --Texas A&M junior receiver
    Christian Kirk, a potential first-rounder who adds value as a return man, announced he would enter the 2018 NFL draft.


    NFLDraftScout.com senior analyst Rob Rang had Kirk going 16th overall in a first-round mock draft this week.


    Other underclassmen declaring for the draft were Nebraska offensive lineman Nick Gates, Southern Miss wide receiver Korey Robertson, Stanford tight end Dalton Schultz and Oregon State running back Ryan Nall.


    Wisconsin linebacker T.J. Edwards announced he would return for his senior season.

    --Georgia linebacker Davin Bellamy
    had two words of wisdom for Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield following the teams' College Football Playoff semifinal on Monday.


    Then, Bellamy repeated those words again and again.


    "Humble yourself," Bellamy shouted as Mayfield congratulated the opposition following the Bulldogs' 54-48 win in double overtime in the Rose Bowl.


    "All I'm saying is humble yourself," Bellamy told ESPN after the game. "All the flamboyancy ... I carry myself the same way, but humble yourself, man."
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    CFP title game: 5 storylines
    January 2, 2018



    The national championship game is set: Alabama vs. Georgia. Here are five things everyone will be talking about before the big game on Monday night in Atlanta:


    1. SEC! SEC! SEC!


    The Southeastern Conference likes to promote itself with the advertising tag line, "It Just Means More," but no slogan is needed for Monday night, which will be a 3 1/2-hour infomercial for the conference.


    For the first time in the four years of the College Football Playoff -- and the first time since Alabama played LSU in the 2012 BCS title game -- the final game of the season will match two teams from the same conference.


    The postseason is a generally lousy way to determine conference strength -- so, too, are non-conference regular-season matchups -- but it's all we have to go on. Based on the results, SEC fans will be crowing (even louder) while the rest of the nation grumbles, having grown weary of a conference that will win its ninth national championship in the past dozen seasons.


    The SEC might not have been the nation's best conference, top to bottom, this season. But it still wins the debate because Alabama and Georgia are the final two standing.


    "I don't think the league is ever down," Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts said.


    2. Saban vs. Smart


    Georgia coach Kirby Smart spent nine seasons at Alabama under Nick Saban, including eight as the defensive coordinator. Saban initially hired Smart in 2004 when he was at LSU, and Smart followed Saban to the Miami Dolphins a year later.


    "I was very impressed with him from day one," Saban said on a media teleconference Tuesday.


    "He was very bright. He learned quickly. I would hire him anytime, anywhere, on any staff, based on the body of work that he did over the nine or 10 years that he was with us. He did a fabulous job."


    Whether the familiarity with Saban and much of the Tide's personnel will have any effect on the outcome of the title game remains to be seen, but here is one stat that will be heard often: Saban is 11-0 against his former assistants.


    Saban put that in perspective.


    "I don't think the game is about the coaches. I think it's about the players," Saban said. "And I think in most of those games if the other guy had the players that we had, they might have beat us."


    3. Georgia's running game


    Bulldogs senior running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel combined for 25 carries for 326 yards and five touchdowns in the double-overtime victory over Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl.


    In doing so, they become the most prolific running back duo in college football history, surpassing SMU's Eric Dickerson and Craig James, who ran for a combined 8,193 yards in the early 1980s.


    Chubb has rushed for 4,744 yards; Michel 3,540. That's 8,284 yards.


    Michel had a 75-yard scoring burst in the second quarter against the Sooners and won the game with a 27-yard touchdown off a direct snap in the second overtime.


    "We're a downhill team, so we run the ball," Michel said.


    It won't be as easy against Alabama, which is first in the nation in rushing defense, allowing 91.8 yards per game, making this a big-boy matchup of strength-on-strength.

    4. Quarterback play



    Georgia's Jake Fromm is where Alabama's Jalen Hurts was last season -- a true freshman in the national title game. Hurts and the Tide fell just short last season, losing to Clemson on a touchdown with one second to go, so now it's Fromm's turn to try to become the second true freshman quarterback to win it all;


    Jamelle Holieway took Oklahoma to the 1985 title.


    No doubt, each defense wants to stop the run and force the quarterback into taking downfield shots, taking him out of game-manager mode.


    Fromm, with calmness and defense-reading skills beyond his years, is fourth nationally in passing efficiency with a rating of 166.4. Hurts is 11th at 153.7 and has been intercepted only once in 246 passes.


    The twist here: Fromm was committed to Alabama before flipping to Georgia shortly after Smart became the head coach after the 2015 season.


    "When he first got here, prior to him even being the starter, the way he carried himself was like a senior or something like that," Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith said. "Just seeing what the guy has done hasn't surprised me one bit."

    5. Chasing history



    Saban is going for his sixth national title, which would tie him for the most ever with a certain houndstooth-hat wearing Alabama gentleman named Paul William Bryant.


    Saban won his first title with LSU in 2003 and added four more in the past eight seasons -- 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2015.


    If Saban hoists another trophy, it would be hard to deny that he's the greatest coach in college history, especially given the modern challenges of navigating multiple postseason games to win the title.


    Back in some of Bear Bryant's days, the "mythical" national champion in the polls was determined before the bowl games.


    On Monday, Georgia -- and one of his former assistants -- stands in his Saban's way.
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    NFL notebook: Lewis signs contract to remain Bengals' coach
    January 2, 2018



    Marvin Lewis is staying with the Cincinnati Bengals after all.


    Ending weeks of speculation that his lengthy tenure as the Bengals' head coach was over, Lewis was signed to a two-year contract that runs through the 2019 season, the team announced Tuesday.


    Although Lewis is the winningest coach in franchise history, posting a 125-112-3 record in his 15 seasons, Cincinnati has had back-to-back losing seasons following a run of four consecutive seasons with double-digit victories.


    The Bengals finished 7-9 but won their final two games.


    --Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer announced his retirement after 15 seasons in the NFL.


    The 38-year-old Palmer was named to the Pro Bowl three times, but his 2017 season was cut short by a broken arm that limited him to seven games.


    Palmer was a Heisman Trophy winner at USC in 2002, and was the first overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft.


    Palmer spent his first eight seasons with the Bengals before being traded to the Oakland Raiders. He played in Oakland for two years before playing five seasons with Arizona.


    --Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford practiced with the team, marking his first participation in practice in nearly three months.


    The Vikings held the first of two practices Tuesday during their first-round bye, and Bradford went through drills with the other quarterbacks for the first time since early October. Bradford underwent knee surgery on Nov. 7 and was placed on injured reserve.


    Bradford's return to practice doesn't mean he will return to game action soon. He first would need to be activated off the injured list to be eligible to play, and the Vikings have two healthy quarterbacks in Case Keenum and backup Teddy Bridgewater.


    --Green Bay Packer coach Mike McCarthy received a one-year contract extension during this past season, multiple outlets reported.


    McCarthy is under contract through the 2019 season. He would have been entering the final year of his contract in 2018 without an extension.


    The Packers fired defensive coordinator Dom Capers, inside linebackers coach Scott McCurley and defensive line coach Mike Trgovac.


    --Ted Thompson will remain as senior advisor to football operations with the Packers, the team announced.


    The move comes after the Packers announced that Thompson was out as the team's general manager. The Packers also said they will begin an "immediate search" for their next general manager.

    --Jon Gruden
    now admits that he is a candidate for the Oakland Raiders' head coaching job.


    Several news outlets, including ESPN, have reported that Gruden will be the Raiders' next coach after Jack Del Rio was fired following Sunday's game.


    However, there was not any solid evidence that Gruden, now an NFL analyst for ESPN, would be interested in the position until a report by Jerry McDonald from the Bay Area News Group confirmed it.


    "My understanding is they're interviewing candidates this week and they're going to let everybody know sometime early next week or whenever they make their decision," Gruden said, per the Bay Area News Group. "Well, I think I am being considered, yes. I hope I'm a candidate."


    --Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown is making progress as he recovers from a partially torn calf muscle, coach Mike Tomlin said.


    In fact, Tomlin said that Brown would be listed as questionable if the team was playing in the wild-card round this weekend. It suggests Brown has a good chance to play in the Steelers' first playoff game on Jan. 14.


    --The Steelers announced that offensive coordinator Todd Haley suffered an injury in a fall but will be able to coach in the playoffs.


    The team did not say how Haley was injured, but NFL Network reported he injured hip in an altercation at a bar.


    According to the report, Haley was pushed outside a bar near Heinz Field on Sunday night following the Steelers' victory over the Browns.


    Because of the injury, Haley may coach Pittsburgh's Jan. 14 game from the booth instead of the sidelines as he usually does.

    --The Atlanta Falcons
    placed Andy Levitre on injured reserve after the left guard aggravated a left triceps injury, the team announced.


    Ben Garland will get the start for the Falcons in Saturday's wild-card game against the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.


    --Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson underscored his support of quarterback Nick Foles.


    "My guy is Nick Foles, end of story," Pederson texted to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.


    The 28-year-old Foles completed 4 of 11 passes for 39 yards with an interception in limited action during Sunday's 6-0 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.


    Earlier in the day, Pederson was asked whether he'd consider replacing Foles for Nate Sudfeld if the former struggles in next week's playoff game.


    "It's hard to say right now until I'm in that situation quite honestly," Pederson told reporters. "Listen, it's a one-game season. It's hard to be in desperation mode, but if you are in that mode, you know, who knows? I do know this -- it's not about one guy. ... A lot of contributing factors go into winning a game."


    --Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt was intent on winning the rushing title, so much so that the rookie smooth-talked his coach into letting him vie for the honor.


    "He came to me and he wanted to play and he wanted to do this thing," coach Andy Reid said of Hunt, per ESPN. "I fought him a little bit on it, and he won that fight. He told me he'd get it taken care of quick, and he did that. My hat goes off to him."


    Hunt didn't take long in accomplishing the feat on Sunday, rushing for a 35-yard touchdown on his lone carry against the Denver Broncos. Hunt (1,327 rushing yards) needed just 14 yards to pass Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley, who sat out his team's regular-season finale.

    --Houston Texans quarterback
    Deshaun Watson is ahead of schedule as he recovers from a torn right anterior cruciate ligament, coach Bill O'Brien told reporters.


    Watson, who sustained the injury during a non-contact play in practice, could return in some capacity for the Texans' organized team activities that span from mid-April until mid-June.

    --The Andy & Jordan Dalton
    Foundation received a significant boost in donations from an unlikely group of fans.


    Fans in Buffalo showed their appreciation to Andy Dalton by donating to the charitable foundation. The gesture comes on the heels of the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback tossing a 49-yard touchdown pass on Sunday that eliminated the Baltimore Ravens from postseason contention and sent the Bills into the playoffs for the first time since 1999.
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  9. #159  
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    Non-Playoff ATS Rankings
    January 2, 2018



    Fixing the Non-Playoff Teams


    Instead of the ATS Power Rankings, it’s probably more pertinent to throw some attention to the teams that didn’t make the playoffs instead of the ones that did. We have plenty of time to vomit up hyperbole about what’s going to happen in a Wild Card Weekend that looks ominously bad. For now, I’m sure there are plenty of you that are interested to see how your favorite (or least favorite) team can improve heading in to the 2018 campaign.


    We’re starting from top and gutting down to the bottom of the barrel where the second franchise in history to go winless will be waiting. Obviously, I can’t hit every single point here so I’m just covering the most important.


    Seattle Seahawks (9-7 SU and 6-9-1 ATS)
    The Legion of Boom is dead. Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril may never play football again due to neck injuries sustained earlier this year. Sherman and Thomas are on the last legs of their contracts, and basically cost nothing to cut. The Seahawks are in the best position to rebuild out of anyone so it will be a fascinating study to see Carroll work his magic. One of the elements that Pete has been exceptional at is targeting players who respond to him. That’s an unappreciated talent for coaching staffs. The Seahawks will always be a devastating force of nature with Wilson healthy.


    Spending more than fifty bucks on their offensive line while reimagining a new defensive roster remain the top two priorities for the Seahawks. Finding better fans would also probably help. Yes, you guys abandoned this team when they needed you the most. You’re the 12th Man when they’re winning and the first people out the door when they lose. Don’t act like you’re the best fans in the world. You’re amongst the worst.


    Baltimore Ravens (9-7 SU and 8-7-1 ATS)
    Something has to be said about a Baltimore team always seems to be knocking on the doorstep. The explosion of the running game in Baltimore was absolutely necessary and due in large part to Alex Collins emerging as a tour de force. He absolutely covered the shortcoming of Joe Flacco, who pivoted one of the worst passing attacks in the league. Baltimore ranked 29th in passing and 27th in total offence, while banking on Justin Tucker to help score 24.7 points per game (9th overall).


    Baltimore desperately needs help in the wide-receiver department where their best pass catcher was Mike Wallace. This team seems to whiff on draft picks in this area with guys like Chris Moore (4th Round – 2016) and Breshad Perriman (1st Round -2015) failing to impress. In free agency, things get even worse for Baltimore as they’ve targeted over-the-hill talents like Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin. Flacco is not a great quarterback, but any passer gets better with improved receivers.

    Los Angeles Chargers (9-7 SU and 8-7-1 ATS)

    We can all agree that the Chargers are a better team than their record indicates, and that’s pretty much where it all begins. They lost to Denver by three points and Miami by two points in the first two weeks of the season to help go 0-4 SU and 0-3-1 ATS in the first month of the season. After that, it was a ridiculous 9-3 SU and ATS the rest of the way. All they really need to do is get off to a better start. It might help if Los Angeles fans appreciated Phil Rivers and this talented team a bit more and came out to home games.

    Dallas Cowboys (9-7 SU and 8-7-1 ATS)

    It was alluded to two weeks ago, but the best thing that Dallas could do is go out an get Earl Thomas for whatever Seattle wants. Thomas is a Texas native and former Longhorn who made it known in Week 15 that he wants to go home. Thomas and Sean Lee would be a devastating combination. In the meantime, just send Zeke back to Cabo and keep him out of the spotlight. Dallas will undoubtedly be a threat in 2018. They would’ve made the playoffs had Zeke not been unjustifiably expelled for six games.

    Detroit Lions (9-7 SU and 8-7-1 ATS)

    It’s safe to say that Matthew Stafford played his part extremely well this season after signing the biggest contract in NFL history. And with Jim Caldwell gone, the sky is literally the limit for this team. Caldwell has been the ideal candidate to coach a team to a 9-7 SU record.

    Arizona Cardinals (8-8 SU and 6-9-1 ATS)

    The departure of two-time Coach of the Year Bruce Arians is a little sad, but probably needed in order to help replace some core players in the system. Namely Carson Palmer. There’s no doubt in my mind that Palmer can still play, but I don’t know if he can stay healthy. Having David Johnson for longer than the half-hour they did in 2017 will go a helluva long way, but finding a quarterback of the future is priority one for me.


    Cincinnati Bengals (7-9 SU and 9-7 ATS)
    The Bengals already addressed the biggest need for the team by having Marvin Lewis step aside. Something has to be said for consistency, but that consistency has to lead to spikes in performance every now and then. Seven playoff losses and exactly zero playoff wins isn’t going to cut it, especially when this team hit peaks of 12-4 SU in 2015 and 11-5 SU in 2013.


    A new play calling staff as well as a new voice in the locker room is bound to go a long way, but this franchise might be due for an overhaul from top to bottom. Who they hire to lead this club in to the franchise will determine everything, so right now the Bengals have gone from “well here comes another frustrating year of Marvin” to “who the hell knows”. I’m not sure which is better. Oh wait, yes I do!

    Green Bay Packers (7-9 SU and ATS)

    The team has seemingly found a running-back after churning through about a dozen over the past five years. That part is great, and whatever they can get out of an aging Jordy Nelson will be pivotal to their success next season. With Aaron Rodgers, the Packers are a playoff team and everyone knows this. That’s how important he is.


    But as the one-year extension of Mike McCarthy and the firing of their general manger shows, the Green Bay Packers as a whole are getting frustrated by the lack of title banners hanging in Lambeau. Rodgers’ injury helped justify the 2017 shortcomings. The patience will not be there if this team doesn’t make it to the NFC Championship next season.

    Washington Redskins (7-9 SU and ATS)

    The bridge has to be burned with Kirk Cousins, who has been franchised two years in a row and played like one of the best quarterbacks in the league. The crazy thing is that he didn’t take a huge drop off even when he lost guys like Jordan Reed and rookie standout Chris Thompson. The craziest part about Washington refusing to extend Cousins is that they drafted him as an insurance policy for RG3, who is now out of the league. You got it right, Washington! What are you waiting for?


    Every single fan in the nation’s capital should be pissed this offseason when Cousins cashes in elsewhere. If the 2017 NFL season showed us anything, it’s how hard it is for teams to find a quarterback. Washington didn’t just find one, they treated him like a bag of smashed crabs and now they’re going to lose him.


    San Francisco 49ers (6-10 SU and 9-7 ATS)
    Pay Jimmy. Sit back. Enjoy.

    Denver Broncos (5-11 SU and 4-11-1 ATS)

    Would you be surprised if I said that they just need a franchise quarterback? You shouldn’t be. That’s literally the only thing that’s been missing, and Elway can no longer be arrogant enough to believe that the defense to float a bad pilot. Kirk Cousins makes the Broncos an instant Super Bowl contender.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11 SU and 8-7-1 ATS)

    The Bucs curiously clung on to Dirk Koetter when Jon Gruden expressed interest and that has to be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. The franchise has gone all-in on Jameis Winston, who finally got to munch on a W in Week 17, but it’s obvious that Koetter lacks the personality to put Winston in line. I’ve made my feelings about the former first overall pick well known, but the fact that the Bucs value Koetter’s services at all is baffling. What exactly has he done to make this team any better than when Lovie Smith was at the helm? Forget maintaining the tradition of being the off-season’s most hyped team, Tampa. Unless Gruden takes back the headsets, Tampa is due for an 8-8 SU season at best. Discipline starts at the top and Koetter lacks the authority to instill it.

    New York Jets (5-11 SU and 9-6-1 ATS)

    The Jets are taking a very curious pathway to rebuilding, and I kind of enjoy it. Todd Bowles is a great coach and the team was smart to not only retain him, but extend his contract. There’s no easy fix here. The Jets are leaking everywhere, but re-signing Josh McCown for one more season and giving him some young weapons to tutor will point this team in the right direction. There’s no beating around the bush – the Jets are a long way from being competitive, but Bowles is one of the best in the game right now. The rebound to playoff form will happen sooner than most think, but not in 2018.

    Miami Dolphins (6-10 SU and 5-9-2 ATS)

    The Dolphins can be one of the most gun shy franchises in the league and the constant question of Cutler or Tannehill will plague how this team moves forward. Tannehill has done nothing to show that he’s really the kind of quarterback that teammates will lay out for, while Cutler completely vanishes for obscene stretches throughout the season. The problem for Miami is this incessant desire to be competitive every year without realizing that they don’t have the identity the Bills do, the coach that the Jets do or the everything that the Patriots do. No simple plug-n-plays will improve Miami next year. This team is fractured at the very top with an ownership group and a coaching staff that has plainly seemed out of its depth from Week 1. I just don’t see Miami as a team that can competently build a true contender.

    Chicago Bears (5-11 SU and 8-7-1 ATS)

    Firing John Fox, who never seemed to be all-in this season, is a start. Finding a quarterback whisperer to get Mitchell Trubisky looking more poised and less like a guy who’s about to lose his virginity would probably help too. The Bears are well built. They just need a coach that can bring it together. Carolina’s defensive coordinator Steve Wilks is probably my favorite quick-fix candidate to re-build the Bears in to the franchise we all know and love.

    Houston Texans (4-12 SU and 7-9 ATS)

    Along with the San Francisco 49ers, the Houston Texans will be the “it” team in the lead-up to the 2018 NFL season. DeShaun Watson and J.J. Watt are everything to this team, and the drop-off when both were injured for the season was obvious. The defence just needs to improve slightly, and Watson converts this offence in to a “what the hell are they even trying to do” in to a “holy crap how fun is this” type of group. DeAndre Hopkins is in for a banner year in 2018, even if Bill O’Brien’s dimpled chin will be filling up my big screen TV too many times on Sundays. I’m so sick of that guy’s face.

    Indianapolis Colts (4-12 SU and 8-8 ATS)

    A healthy Andrew Luck is essentially the difference between the Colts being somewhat playoff ready, and picking top-5 in the draft. If they have bring in a well regarded offensive guru to reshape how this team scores points, as well as a general manager who doesn’t burn draft picks on bums, it’ll help too. But this entire franchise rests on the surgically repaired shoulders of Andrew Luck. He’s good enough to be the difference between 10-6 SU and 4-12 SU.

    New York Giants (3-13 SU and 7-9 ATS)

    As I’ve said multiple times throughout the year, moving on from Eli Manning is a dumb decision. Not just because he won two Super Bowls for the city, but because he’s a good quarterback who lost Odell Beckham extremely early in the season. I think the fix for the Giants is coach-centric. Manning, the return of Beckham and the potential arrival of a mercurial talent like Saquon Barkley could have a seismic impact on this franchise. McAdoo was a cancer that needed to go, and it will take some scrubbing to undo all the damage he created but the Giants are mystifyingly heading in to a murky future with Manning’s status unknown.

    Cleveland Browns (0-16 SU and 4-12 ATS)

    The Browns probably need to retain Hue Jackson, but they also really need to think about what the hell they’re going to do at quarterback. DeShone Kizer either didn’t respond to coaching, or is just so bad that it never mattered. Kizer doesn’t show any of the intangibles that quarterbacks need to succeed in the NFL. He holds on to the ball forever and tries to make hero throws. His entire career might be exemplified forever by the winless season he helped create.


    A rookie leading the league in interceptions isn’t the most ridiculous thing that’s ever happened, but Kizer also didn’t do enough besides that to justify retaining him in to 2018. I’m all for young people having careers, but Kizer is like a lot of prospective quarterbacks who have flamed out in the league. The draft will be fascinating with the Browns notching two top-5 picks overall.
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  10. #160  
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    NCAAF
    Dunkel


    CFP Championship



    Monday, January 8



    Alabama @ Georgia


    Game 151-152
    January 8, 2018 @ 8:10 pm


    Dunkel Rating:
    Alabama
    116.510
    Georgia
    115.516
    Dunkel Team:
    Dunkel Line:
    Dunkel Total:
    Alabama
    by 1
    42
    Vegas Team:
    Vegas Line:
    Vegas Total:
    Alabama
    by 4 1/2
    45
    Dunkel Pick:
    Georgia
    (+4 1/2); Under









    NCAAF
    Long Sheet



    Monday, January 8


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    ALABAMA (12 - 1) vs. GEORGIA (13 - 1) - 1/8/2018, 8:45 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    GEORGIA is 67-42 ATS (+20.8 Units) in road games when playing against a team with a winning record since 1992.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    ALABAMA is 1-0 against the spread versus GEORGIA over the last 3 seasons
    ALABAMA is 1-0 straight up against GEORGIA over the last 3 seasons
    1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------








    NCAAF

    CFP Championship


    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Trend Report
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Monday, January 8


    ALABAMA @ GEORGIA
    Alabama is 12-1 SU in its last 13 games
    The total has gone OVER in 5 of Alabama's last 6 games when playing Georgia
    Georgia is 14-1 SU in its last 15 games
    The total has gone OVER in 5 of Georgia's last 6 games when playing Alabama
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  11. #161  
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    Armadillo's Write-Up


    Bowl Season



    Alabama (-4.5) vs Georgia, in Atlanta


    Nick Saban is 11-0 vs his former assistant coaches, with all 11 wins by 14+ points; Alabama is in national title game for third year in row, splitting pair with Clemson last two years. Crimson Tide held 9 of 13 opponents to 10 or less points; they’re 2-1 vs spread in games with single digit spread. Alabama won its last three games with Georgia, beating Dawgs 38-10 in last meeting two years ago. Georgia scored 40.5 ppg in winning its last four games since their only loss, at Auburn- they won 20-19 at Notre Dame in their only game as an underdog this year. Dawgs are 4-1 vs spread this year in games with single digit spread. Six of last nine Georgia games went over total; six of last eight Alabama games stayed under.


    2017-18 bowl results
    Troy (-6.5) 50, North Texas 30
    Georgia State (+6.5) 27, Western Kentucky 17
    Boise State (+7) 38, Oregon 28
    Marshall (+4) 31, Colorado State 28
    Middle Tennessee State (+3) 35, Arkansas State 30
    Florida Atlantic (-22) 50, Akron 3
    Louisiana Tech (+5) 51, SMU 10
    Temple (-7) 28, Florida International 3
    Ohio U (-6.5) 41, UAB 6
    Wyoming (-2.5) 37, Central Michigan 14
    South Florida (-2) 38, Texas Tech 34
    Army (+6.5) 42, San Diego Satte 35
    Appalachian State (+6.5) 34, Toledo 0
    Fresno State 33 (+3), Houston 27
    Utah (-6.5) 30, West Virginia 14
    Duke (-5.5) 36, Northern Illinois 14
    Kansas State (-6.5) 35, UCLA 17
    Florida State (-12) 42, Southern Mississippi 13
    Iowa (-2.5) 27, Boston College 20
    Purdue (+2.5) 38, Arizona 35
    Texas (+3) 33, Missouri 16
    Navy (-2.5) 49, Virginia 7
    Oklahoma State (-6.5) 30, Virginia Tech 21
    TCU (-3) 39, Stanford 37
    Michigan State (-3) 42, Washington State 17
    Wake Forest (-3.5) 55, Texas A&M 52
    NC State (-4.5) 52, Arizona State 31
    Northwestern (-8) 24, Kentucky 23
    New Mexico State (+5.5) 26, Utah State 20
    Ohio State (-10) 24, USC 7
    Mississippi State (+7) 31, Louisville 27
    Iowa State (+3.5) 21, Memphis 20
    Penn State (-3) 35, Washington 28
    Wisconsin (-6.5) 34, Miami 24
    South Carolina (+9) 26, Michigan 19
    Central Florida (+10.5) 34, Auburn 27
    Notre Dame (+2) 21, LSU 17
    Georgia (-2.5) 54, Oklahoma 48 OT
    Alabama (-3.5) 24, Clemson 6


    Favorites: 20-18 vs spread
    totals: over 22-16
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  12. #162  
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    College Football National Championship biggest betting mismatches


    Will experience be an advantage for Nick Saban, Jalen Hurts and the rest of the Alabama Crimson Tide when they face the Georgia Bulldogs on Monday in the national championship game?


    The final game of the college football season happens on Monday night in Atlanta when the SEC champions Georgia Bulldogs take on the 4-point favored Alabama Crimson Tide.


    We break it down to see where the weak spots are in each team’s game that could be exposed in the title game. Here are the biggest mismatches to consider in the game before placing your final wager.


    Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts vs. an SEC defense


    There’s no question the Crimson Tide were more conservative with their attack without Lane Kiffin looking after the offensive play calling. Alabama ran the ball 63.3 percent of the time under new OC Brian Daboll compared to 59 percent last year with Kiffin calling the shots.


    Hurts cut his interceptions down drastically in his sophomore season, but not without a cost. He had 136 fewer pass attempts and 720 fewer passing yards in 2017 than in 2016. His numbers this year are pretty respectable but they were inflated a bit against the weaker sisters on Alabama schedule. He completed 70.2 percent of his passes against non-conference foes and just 56.8 percent against SEC opponents.


    Georgia gave up the second fewest passing yards per game in the country and the fourth fewest passing first downs per game.


    Alabama’s experience vs. Georgia’s greenness


    The Crimson Tide are making their third straight trip to the national title game whereas Georgia entered this season off an 8-5 campaign in 2016. Alabama returns 11 starters from last year’s squad that lost to Clemson in the national championship game – including its quarterback and top receiver and leading rusher from a year ago.


    Georgia will send out a freshman quarterback who had originally committed to Alabama before changing his mind and deciding on the Bulldogs instead.


    Nick Saban vs. Kirby Smart


    It’s been talked about at great length in the build up to this game but it requires an additional reminder: Nick Saban crushes his former assistant coaches. Just like former New England Patriots assistants struggle against Bill Belichick, Saban schools his former protégés.


    Saban is 11-0 straight up and 9-2 against the spread with an average point differential of 28.7 in games against his former assistants. Kirby Smart was Saban’s defensive coordinator at Alabama from 2008 to 2015 before becoming Georgia’s head coach in 2016.
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    NCAAF

    Monday, January 8


    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    College Football Playoff National Championship betting preview and odds: Alabama vs Georgia
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Alabama Crimson Tide vs Georgia Bulldogs (+4, 45)


    Game to be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta Georgia


    An SEC team will claim the national title for the ninth time in the past 12 seasons as conference mates Georgia and Alabama meet in Monday's College Football Playoff championship at Atlanta. The third-seeded Bulldogs are looking to win their first national title since the Herschel Walker-led squad won the 1980 crown, while the fourth-seeded Crimson Tide are striving for their fifth during Nick Saban's 11-season tenure. Alabama easily dispatched top-seeded Clemson 24-6 in the semifinals while Georgia outlasted second-seeded Oklahoma 54-48 in double overtime.


    Georgia coach Kirby Smart is a former Alabama defensive coordinator under Saban but is adamant that doesn't give him crucial insights to the methods of the Crimson Tide. "There's not a lot of tendencies that he has that are just going to be ground-breaking to allow us a benefit," Smart said during a press conference. "The bottom line is our players got to go out and we've got to play a really good football game to stay with these guys." Saban also downplayed the situation, saying "I don't think the game is about the coaches. I think it's about the players."


    Alabama leads the nation in rushing defense at 91.8 yards per game and will receive a big test from the Georgia senior duo of Nick Chubb (1,320 yards) and Sony Michel (1,129). The Crimson Tide limited Clemson to 64 yards on 33 attempts while the Bulldogs rolled up 317 and five rushing scores against Oklahoma. Georgia freshman quarterback Jake Fromm could be the wild-card factor if he starts the game off strong and makes Alabama respect the passing game.

    TV:
    8:17 p.m. ET, ESPN.

    LINE HISTORY:
    The Bulldogs opened as 4.5-point dogs and money coming in on the SEC champs has seen that line drop a full point to +3.5 at some books. The total hit the betting board at 47 and that has been bet down to 45.

    INJURY REPORT:



    Alabama - DB Minkah Fitzpatrick (Probable, Kidney), RB Joshua Jacobs (Questionable, Hamstring), OL Brandon Kennedy (Questionable, Ankle), DL Labryan Ray (Questionable, Foot), DB Nigel Knott (Questionable, Undisclosed), DB Hootie Jones (Questionable, Knee), OL Lester Cotton Sr. (Out, Knee), LB Anfernee Jennings (Out, Knee), LB Dylan Moses (Out Indefinitely, Foot), LB Shaun Dion Hamilton (Out For Season, Knee).


    Georgia - LB Natrez Patrick (Questionable, Personal), DB Deangelo Gibbs (Questionable, Undisclosed), DB Latavious Brini (Questionable, Disciplinary), TE Charlie Woerner (Doubtful, Ankle).

    WEATHER REPORT:
    Dome

    ABOUT ALABAMA (12-1 SU, 6-7 ATS, 5-8 O/U):
    The Crimson Tide have been hit hard with linebacker injuries all season and they lost sophomore Anfernee Jennings (knee) against Clemson and he underwent surgery. Alabama will do some further linebacker reshuffling with senior Shaun Dion Hamilton (knee) and freshman Dylan Moses (foot) done for the season but the unit still resolves around junior strong safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (nine career interceptions, four returned for touchdowns). Sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts (808 rushing yards, 2,060 passing yards) is more feared as a runner but has 17 touchdown passes against just once interception as well as a star target in junior Calvin Ridley (59 receptions, 935 yards).

    ABOUT GEORGIA (13-1 SU, 10-4 ATS, 6-8 O/U):
    Michel, who averages eight yards per carry, galloped for a 27-yard, game-winning score against Oklahoma for his 16th rushing touchdown of the season, while Chubb has 15 rushing scores and a 6.4 yard average. Fromm has passed for 2,383 yards and 23 touchdowns against only five interceptions while piloting an offense that averages 36.3 points per game. Junior inside linebacker Roquan Smith, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, leads the Bulldogs with 124 tackles and 5.5 sacks (the latter tied for team-leading honors with junior outside linebacker D'Andre Walker), while senior strong safety Dominick Sanders has a team-best four interceptions.

    CONSENSUS:
    The public is siding with the chalk Crimson Tide at a rate of 51 percent and the Over is getting 65 percent of the totals action.
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    Six alternative ways to wager - and win - on the CFP National Championship
    Jason Logan


    Since the long-overdue creation of the College Football Playoff three years ago, sportsbooks have seen a major uptick in the amount of betting action on the National Championship Game.


    The fact that there’s a lead-up to the title game, with the teams having to win out in a New Year’s Day semifinal, and with the championship given a week to breathe away from the other big-name bowl games, football bettors have flocked to the window to bet the biggest NCAAF game of the year.


    And sportsbooks online and in Nevada, like any smart business, have met that growing demand with a slew of different ways to wager on the CFP Championship Game. Here is but a taste of the CFP Championship prop action and the best way to wager on these alternative odds:


    First team to score: Alabama -140 / Georgia +EVEN


    A quick run through of these teams’ season histories, and you see that Alabama has scored first in 10 of its 13 games while Georgia has struck first blood in nine of its 13 outings, but has played from behind in its last two contests – the SEC Championship versus Auburn and the Rose Bowl versus Oklahoma.


    Perhaps the big question behind this prop should be which team will receive the football first. The Bulldogs started with the football first in the Rose Bowl and Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban has leaned toward deferring receiving until the second half the past couple seasons, putting confidence in his top-ranked defense to get the ball back and give Alabama better field position.


    The Tide started with the football in both of the last two CFP Championship Games versus Clemson, however, the Tigers won both coin tosses and deferred to receive in the second half.


    At EVEN money, UGA is worth a wager to score first Monday night.


    Highest-scoring quarter: First +280 / Second +175 / Third +350 / Fourth +260


    If you want to do the math behind this one, you can break down both Alabama and Georgia by their quarter-by-quarter performances this season.


    The Crimson Tide had little trouble finding the end zone regardless of which quarter was on the scoreboard, but they did peak in the first quarter, averaging 10.9 points in the opening 15 minutes. Behind that pace, Alabama put up 10.7 points per third quarter, 8.7 points in the second, and just 6.2 in the final frame.


    The Bulldogs did most of their damage right after half, averaging 10.2 points per third quarter, ahead of 9.2 in the second, 8.5 in the first, and 7.2 in the fourth quarter. And if you remember the Rose Bowl – and how could you forget it – UGA really got rolling in the third quarter, putting up 14 points and tying the game 31-31.


    Defensively, neither SEC school budged much all season, but Alabama has soften up a bit in second halves, giving up an average of 3.7 points in the third and fourth quarter this year. Georgia, on the other hand, only 2.1 third-quarter points against but 4.5 points in the closing frame.


    With all that said, the value is there with the third quarter at +350.


    First player to score a touchdown


    Running backs Damien Harris and Nick Chubb headline these two potent ground games and are the front runners to score the first touchdown of the game at +600. Behind them could be some serious value with this prop, with fellow RBs Bo Scarbrough and Sony Michel priced at +800 as well as mobile Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts at +800.


    Since the Tide are -140 favorites to score first, you may want to focus on Alabama players for this particular prop. Digging into the Tide’s scoring history, Hurts has run one in for the first score three times this season as did Scarbrough, who also opened scoring with a touchdown in last year’s title game.


    Both of those options at 8/1 are great, but if you’re looking for a big score from this prop, check out tight end Irv Smith Jr. at +3,300. He’s scored the first touchdown in two of Alabama’s games and has reeled in 14 catches – third most on the team – and has three TDs overall.


    Jalen Hurts total rushing yards: Over 51.5 (-110) / Under 51.5 (-110)


    Hurts’ passing production has gradually slipped as the season wound down, going from throwing for throwing for more than 200 yards per game between Week 8 and Week 12, to putting up just 112 yards through the air versus Auburn and 120 passing yards against Clemson.


    Hurts sometimes finds himself as the third-string running back by default and with the Bulldogs not allowing much through the air and pressing quarterbacks for 31 sacks and 60 QB hurries, Bama’s QB could take to the ground as the pocket collapses.


    Hurts, who averages 62.15 rushing yards per game, ran for 80 yards in the loss to Auburn and 63 yards in the loss to Clemson in the title game last year. He’ll try to get gains any way he can against this UGA stop unit, and that means plenty of thinking on his feet. Go Over 51.5 rushing yards.


    Total receiving yards Javon Wims: Over 54.5 (EVEN) / Under 54.5 (-120)


    Wims is coming off a big game in the Rose Bowl, reeling in six balls for 73 yards, and he’s been a bigger part of the Bulldogs attack in the previous four games, totaling 329 yards on 20 receptions.


    Now, some of that added production is because UGA fell behind against Oklahoma and Auburn, prompting more passing plays from the Bulldogs, who averaged just under 20 attempts per game from QB Jake Fromm. He tossed 29 passes versus the Sooners and 22 against the Tigers after throwing just a combined 30 times over the previous two games. But with a spread this tight, it may be tough for any team to put space on the scoreboard and force the other to go all-out pass.


    Wims averaged 54.1 yards on 3.38 receptions per game – 16 yards per reception - but takes on an Alabama defense that allowed only 5.3 yards per attempt – lowest in the entire country – and gave up only 10 passes for 30 yards and just one for 40 all season. This secondary locked down Clemson standout WR Deon Cain to 75 yards on six catches in the Sugar Bowl and has many options to throw at Wims Monday. Take the Under 54.5.


    Live betting


    Let’s not pass up the best alternative way to wager on any sporting event – especially ones as big as the National Championship. Strange things can happen in these big-name games – just look at last year’s CFP Championship.


    Clemson trailed Alabama 14-0 at 10:42 in the second quarter and that live line would have soared to Tigers +20.5 with the moneyline on Clemson paying out close to 5/1, depending on your sportsbook. Of course, Clemson would storm back and win the title game outright.


    We saw another good example of a drastic swing in momentum in the Rose Bowl, with Georgia falling behind 21-7 to Oklahoma in the second quarter. The Bulldogs were available at +11.5 on the in-game spread, and battled back to knock off the Sooners and advance to the CFP Championship.


    Look for those anomalies in the action, be it a good team going down early or a high-scoring opening half between two defense-first programs. These weird results usually do correct themselves and offer up great value for fans of live betting.
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  15. #165  
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    College Playoff - Action Report
    January 7, 2018



    About 24 hours before kickoff, Las Vegas sports books were split on Monday night’s College Football Playoff Championship Game, with Alabama -3.5 available for favorite bettors and Georgia +4 there for the taking, too.


    While it’s always hard to predict how a line will move, the betting market may have found its sweet spot for this season’s title game. The 4.5s that have appeared on betting boards over the last week haven’t lasted long, and it’s hard to envision the number on Alabama waning to as cheap as -3.


    “I don’t think it’s going to go below 3.5,” John Avello, sports book director at the Wynn, said Sunday afternoon.


    The Wynn’s opening price of Alabama -4 drew “a couple of six-figure bets” on the underdog Georgia that pushed the line to -3.5, Avello added, and that’s the number the shop’s been dealing since.


    At the South Point, sharp bettors liked the opening price on the dog, taking Georgia +4.5, but when the point spread was bet down to Alabama -3.5, wiseguys were happy to lay the shorter price. Save a momentary blip to 4.5 on Sunday night, the South Point seems to have settled at Alabama -4.


    “We definitely had sharp money taking the 4.5, and I’d say it was pretty sharp money laying back the 3.5, too,” said Chris Andrews, book director at the South Point. “You know the way it is – guys are playing numbers, and they saw both those as advantageous.”


    As for public bettors, there are different stories coming from the South Point and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.


    While Alabama has been a public team ever since Nick Saban’s tenure in Tuscaloosa began in 2007, “there’s no shortage of Georgia money and opinions on Georgia winning this game,” Andrews said. “We’ve taken plenty of Georgia money, too, from everybody – from wiseguys and the public – so I’m not sure we’re going to move (the line) at all.”


    But Westgate manager Ed Salmons said his shop is so weighted on the favorite that the joke around the book has been, “’Who is Alabama playing tomorrow?,’ because all we see on the ticker is Alabama, Alabama, Alabama, Alabama – it’s like nine out of 10 tickets are on Alabama. It’s just amazing. And it’s all public money. ... It’s weird because they loved Clemson against Alabama, and now they love Alabama against Georgia.”


    After opening Alabama -4, the Westgate took a “decent size wager” on the favorite from a house customer and moved to -4.5. From there, the book has bounced between 3.5 and 4.


    Salmons is happy to need Georgia on Monday.


    “I definitely lean to the dog in this game,” he said.


    The vast majority of bets, of course, has yet to show up, and while some college football observers sense a lack of buzz for a national title game featuring two teams from the SEC, books anticipate a heavily-bet game. Should handle be off, it will probably have more to do with bettors’ bankrolls being light after all four underdogs covered during the NFL’s wild-card weekend than any provincial leanings, Andrews agreed.


    Another positive domino for the books of the NFL underdog sweep: Less liability heading into Monday night.


    “All the parlays through the weekend lead to this game,” Salmons said, “and with all the 'dogs covering in the NFL, it definitely took away a lot of the liability sometimes we face in these games.”
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  16. #166  
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    College Playoff Props
    January 7, 2018



    The 2017-18 college football season comes to a close Monday at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium from Atlanta, Georgia.


    This year's title game features Alabama meeting Georgia in an all-SEC matchup.


    Listed below are Game and Player props for the College Football Playoff championship game.


    3 Straight Scores by Either Team
    Yes -165
    No +145


    Defense/Specials Teams Score TD in Game
    Yes +160
    No -185


    Double Result (1st Half Result- Game Outcome)
    Alabama - Alabama +100
    Aabama - Georgia +600
    Draw - Alabama +1600
    Draw - Georgia +2000
    Georgia - Alabama +550
    Georgia - Georgia +250


    First Score of the Game
    Touchdown -220
    Field Goal or Safety +180


    Highest Scoring Half
    1st Half -125
    2nd Half + OT +105


    Last Team to Score
    Alabama -125
    Georgia +105


    Margin of Victory
    Alabama by 1 to 6 Pts +325
    Alabama by 7 to 12 Pts +400
    Alabama by 13 to 18 Pts +700
    Alabama by 19 to 24 Pts +1200
    Alabama by 25 to 30 Pts +2000
    Alabama by 31 to 36 Pts +3300
    Alabama by 37 to 42 Pts +5000
    Alabama by 43 Pts or More +8000


    Georgia by 1 to 6 Pts +350
    Georgia by 7 to 12 Pts +450
    Georgia by 13 to 18 Pts +900
    Georgia by 19 to 24 Pts +2000
    Georgia by 25 to 30 Pts +4000
    Georgia by 31 to 36 Pts +6600
    Georgia by 37 to 42 Pts +10000
    Georgia by 43 Pts or More +12500


    Overtime
    Yes +700
    No -1000


    Team to Score First
    Alabama -140
    Georgia +120


    Time of First Score
    Over 6½ Minutes -130
    Under 6½ Minutes +110


    Will There be a TD of 43 Yards or Longer?
    Yes -105
    No -115


    Player Props - per BetOnline.ag


    Player to Score 1st Touchdown
    Damien Harris (Alabama) +600
    Bo Scarbrough (Alabama) +800
    Najee Harris (Alabama) +3300
    Josh Jacobs (Alabama) +2500
    Calvin Ridley (Alabama) +1000
    Jerry Jeudy (Alabama) +2000
    Henry Ruggs III (Alabama) +1600
    Cam Sims (Alabama) +2000
    Irv Smith Jr. (Alabama) +3300
    Jalen Hurts (Alabama) +800
    Nick Chubb (Georgia) +600
    Sony Michel (Georgia) +800
    DAndre Swift (Georgia) +2500
    Elijah Holyfield (Georgia) +3300
    Brian Herrien (Georgia) +5000
    Javon Wims (Georgia) +1200
    Terry Godwin (Georgia) +1600
    Mecole Hardman (Georgia) +2000
    Isaac Nauta (Georgia) +3300
    Jake Fromm (Georgia) +3300
    Alabama Defense/Special Teams +1600
    Georgia Defense/Special Teams +2000
    No Touchdown Scored +5000


    Total Passing yards by Jake Fromm (Georgia)
    Over 184½ Passing Yards +100
    Under 184½ Passing Yards -120


    Total Passing yards by Jalen Hurts (Alabama)
    Over 174½ Passing Yards +115
    Under 174½ Passing Yards -135


    Total Receiving yards by Calvin Ridley (Alabama)
    Over 67½ Receiving Yards -110
    Under 67½ Receiving Yards -110


    Total Receiving yards by Cam Sims (Alabama)
    Over 17½ Receiving Yards -110
    Under 17½ Receiving Yards -110


    Total Receiving yards by Henry Ruggs III (Alabama)
    Over 24½ Receiving Yards -110
    Under 24½ Receiving Yards -110


    Total Receiving yards by Javon Wims (Georgia)
    Over 54½ Receiving Yards +100
    Under 54½ Receiving Yards -120


    Total Receiving yards by Jerry Jeudy (Alabama)
    Over 27½ Receiving Yards +145
    Under 27½ Receiving Yards -165


    Total Receiving yards by Mecole Hardman (Georgia)
    Over 27½ Receiving Yards -110
    Under 27½ Receiving Yards -110


    Total Receiving yards by Terry Godwin (Georgia)
    Over 42½ Receiving Yards -110
    Under 42½ Receiving Yards -110


    Total Receptions by Calvin Ridley (Alabama)
    Over 4½ Receptions -120
    Under 4½ Receptions +100


    Total Receptions by Javon Wims (Georgia)
    Over 4½ Receptions +160
    Under 4½ Receptions -185


    Total Rush+Receiving Yards by Bo Scarbrough (Alabama)
    Over 52½ Rush+Receiving Yards -110
    Under 52½ Rush+Receiving Yards -110


    Total Rushing yards by Damien Harris (Alabama)
    Over 62½ Rushing Yards -120
    Under 62½ Rushing Yards +100


    Total Rushing Yards by Jake Fromm (Georgia)
    Over 12½ Rushing Yards -110
    Under 12½ Rushing Yards -110


    Total Rushing Yards by Jalen Hurts (Alabama)
    Over 50½ Rushing Yards -105
    Under 50½ Rushing Yards -115


    Total Rushing yards by Nick Chubb (Georgia)
    Over 78½ Rushing Yards +105
    Under 78½ Rushing Yards -125


    Total Rushing Yards by Sony Michel (Georgia)
    Over 67½ Rushing Yards +105
    Under 67½ Rushing Yards -125


    Odds Subject to Change
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  17. #167  
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    MONDAY, JANUARY 8
    GAME TIME(ET) PICK UNITS



    ALA at UGA 08:00 PM


    UGA +3.5


    U 46.0
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    Alabama turns to freshman QB Tagovailoa in championship game
    January 8, 2018



    ATLANTA (AP) Alabama turned to freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and staged a dramatic national comeback in the College Football Playoff championship game.


    Tagovailoa delivered in Monday night's 26-23 overtime victory over Georgia. He completed a 41-yard touchdown pass to fellow freshman DeVonta Smith to give the Crimson Tide another national title.


    Tagovailoa replaced a struggling Jalen Hurts coming out of the locker room in the second half with the Crimson Tide trailing Georgia 13-0. Hurts had gone just 3-of-8 passing for 21 yards in the first half while running for 47 yards, and Alabama's offense looked completely stagnant.


    Tagovailoa, a five-star recruit from Hawaii, completed 14 of 24 passes for 166 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 27 yards. He had played in eight games this season.


    Most of his action came in mop up duties, and Alabama went three-and-out on his first drive.


    The lefty was far more successful on drive No. 2. Tagovailoa passed and ran the Tide to its first score of the game, a 6-yard touchdown to freshman Henry Ruggs III.


    He converted a third-and-7 play with a nifty run. He ran right and, with three Georgia defenders around him, reversed field and scampered for a first down on the TD drive.


    On his third drive, Tagovailoa's up and down start continued. He threw an interception in Alabama territory when all the receivers on that side of the field were blocking.


    Then a quick Alabama interception set him up in Georgia territory but the Tide settled for a field goal after three straight incompletions.


    Coming into the game, Tagovailoa had completed 35 of 53 passes for 470 yards with eight touchdowns against one interception.


    Hurts was the Southeastern Conference offensive player of the year as a freshman last season and has thrown only one interception all season. But he struggled in a loss to Auburn in the regular season and played better in the Sugar Bowl against Clemson but still passed for just 120 yards.
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