Alabama Beats Georgia, Fails to Cover
In what turned out to be a national championship game for the ages, the Alabama Crimson Tide won for the fifth time under Nick Saban but did not cash for bettors.
According to oddsmakers from online sports book Bovada.lv, the Crimson Tide were a 5-point favorite before kickoff of Monday night's college football playoff national championship. Other books had the line as low as 3.5 but unless bettors bought at least a half point they did not cover as Alabama defeated Georgia 26-23 in overtime. (Public bettors sided with the Tide all week.)
Under bettors have to feel sick to their stomachs after the combined score went over the posted total of 45. After a scoreless first quarter between the two teams, Georgia scored 13 unanswered points to take a 13-0 lead heading into halftime. That's when Nick Saban made one of the best decisions of his coaching career.
With his offense completely rudderless in the first half, Saban benched sophomore signal-caller Jalen Hurts for freshman Tua Tagovailoa, who immediately ignited the Tide. Tagovailoa hit Henry Ruggs III for a six-yard touchdown pass to cut the Dawgs' lead to 13-7 but under bettors still had to feel good about the combined score being only 20 midway through the third quarter.
Then disaster struck for those bettors. UGA quarterback Jake Fromm hit Mecole Hardman on an 80-yard touchdown pass on the ensuing drive to push Georgia's lead back up to 13 with 6:52 remaining in the third quarter. Alabama would add a field goal before the quarter ended and heading into the fourth, it was Georgia 20, Alabama 13.
In the fourth, Andy Pappanstos hit a 30-yard field goal to cut the lead to 20-13 and then with just 3:49 remaining in the game, Tagovailoa found Calvin Ridley for a seven-yard score on fourth down from the seven yard line.
Alabama would get the ball back with an opportunity to kick the game-winning field goal as time expired, but Pappanastos missed a chip shot and the game went into overtime. Had he made that kick, under bettors still would have cashed.
They still had to feel good when Rodrigo Blankeship hit a 51-yard field goal for the Bulldogs, who then sacked Tagovailoa on Alabama's opening play of overtime. Tagovailoa responded with a 41-yard walk-off touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith, who not only crushed Alabama backers that didn't buy the line down, but also handed under bettors an L as well. Final score, Alabama 26, Georgia 23.
For those keeping track, the Bulldogs covered as a 3-point underdog in the first half but the Crimson Tide covered the 5.5-point spread in the second half.