Had Oklahoma escaped that semifinal matchup against Georgia, I would have bet my children's college fund on Alabama in the title game.
Just kidding, but my confidence level would have been much higher in this contest. The New Year has been good in my handicapping world, with a 5-2 ATS mark in the New Year's bowls. Here's my college football playoff picks for the final game of the 2017 season.
Georgia (+5) vs. Alabama
If you watched the semifinal games, especially the Georgia vs. Oklahoma contest, you would have noticed a slight issue with the Sooners offense in the second half. It wasn't just that Oklahoma wasn't the same juggernaut it was in the first half.
The confidence was completely gone in the passing game and the Sooners had nothing left. The Bulldogs' defense was the best unit on the field in the latter stages of the game, so I'm not going to base this decision on that entire defensive performance, which wasn't always pretty. Georgia has a defense that is better than this spread indicates.
And offensively, the Bulldogs actually average more yards per play than the Crimson Tide this season.
People are overreacting to how many points the Bulldogs allowed to Oklahoma. I'm not sure what happened in that first half, but the team we saw in the second half is more of the Georgia team we'll see in the title game next week.
The Crimson Tide are good, but Georgia is on its level, unlike Clemson was in the semifinals. The Bulldogs will put far more pressure on Alabama's defense, and that offense won't cruise up and down the field like Oklahoma did in the first half of the semifinal contest.
The betting public is allowing too many points in this game, so feel confident in backing the Dawgs. -- Go Against The Chalk with Georgia
Team to score first?
Alabama -400/Georgia EVEN
This is a no-brainer for me. You have to grab the value here and go with the Bulldogs. If Georgia gets the ball first, there's a solid chance the Bulldogs march down the field for at least a field goal. Don't risk more on the Crimson Tide when Georgia has at least the same opportunity to score first. Book the Dawgs.
Will either team score 3 unanswered times?
Yes -175/No +135
I'm actually surprised the value is better with "no" in this instance. This just shows the lack of faith in Georgia, allowing many to believe Alabama can rack up the points. This will be a back-and-forth game, so one team may score twice unanswered, but it won't be three times.
The first turnover of the game will be?
Fumble +130/Interception -130/No turnovers +700
I'll take the less value in this prop bet. Both teams do a solid job of keeping the ball from hitting the ground by way of fumbles, so the interception bet offers far more upside in this realm. Stay safe and go with quarterback mistakes.
Scott Levine is the Associate Editor for the Clinton Herald. During his free time, he blogs about fantasy sports and handicaps games. Check out more at Against The Chalk.
Scott Levine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ScottLevineCH