It hasn’t been a banner year for my bowl picks. While it’s not an outright disaster, there’s definitely a few picks that are a bit of a head scratcher in retrospect. I’m sitting at 54.1% correct for winners.
At any rate, it’s time to talk about the two national title games this weekend.
As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.
Saturday, January 8
2:00: North Dakota State vs. Montana State (NCAA Division I Championship @ Frisco, TX; ESPN2): The Bison are favorites here, pretty much because they only are. Imagine if the FBS national title had been won by Bama 9 of the past 12 years and you have a pretty good idea of what NDSU is all about. But the Bobcats are no joke: traditionally the lesser of the two Montana schools, they’ve thundered their way to Frisco. Don’t forget, the two previous quarterbacks from NDSU became NFL draft picks, so there’s talent on this field. I don’t pick FCS games because I don’t know enough about the teams involved, and that remains true here, but I suspect this will be worth a watch.
Monday, January 10
8:00: Georgia vs. Alabama (College Football Playoff Championship @ Indianapolis, IN; ESPN): Oh, this game again. Let’s quickly review the last time they played, back at the beginning of December. Both teams were forced to rely on the passing game for the first time all season. Bryce Young played brilliantly and clinched the Heisman; Stetson Bennett threw two picks, including a pick-6 that pretty much sealed Bama’s comeback. Neither team was troubled in their semi-final. Bama avoided Cincy’s quality cornerbacks by pretty much rushing for 6 yards a carry. Young wasn’t really very good in the game, but he didn’t need to be. Yeah, Bennett made the throws against Michigan and the game got out of hand, but it really seemed to me more that Georgia’s defense just smothered Michigan. On the rare occasions Michigan had time to throw, they were able to move the ball in the passing game, which is the closest thing Georgia has to a weakness. This Bama offense has beaten them once. It will require another superhero performance from Young to do it again, and that’s what I’m banking on.
SP+ line: Georgia by 7.2 (note: this does not factor in the SEC championship or semi-finals)
Vegas line: Georgia by 2.5
Watchability tier: IV
Previous meetings: Bama has a commanding lead in the all-time series between these conferences foes: 42-25-4. They first met in 1895, a 30-6 Georgia win. They played each other consistently from 1901 until 1965, but since then they played sporadically in conference, and since the SEC’s expansion to 14 teams they’ve only met in the regular season twice (2015 and 2020). Their last meeting a month ago was a 41-24 Alabama win.
Last bowl game: Alabama has made bowl games in 18 straight seasons, dating to a 20-16 loss to Minnesota in the 2004 Music City Bowl. Their last bowl game was a 27-6 win over Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl back on New Year’s Eve. Georgia owns the country’s longest bowl streak, at 25 straight seasons. The streak began with a 33-6 win over Wisconsin in the 1997-98 Outback Bowl. Most recently, they beat Michigan 34-11 in the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Eve.
Announcers: Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit