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National Championship Game ATS Picks

College Football Prediction

We have a year of firsts on our hands in the College Football Playoff.

It's the first time two teams from the same conference qualified for the CFP. The first time two teams from the same conference are left standing. The first time a No. 3 seed upset a No. 2. The first time we've seen two "upsets" in the same CFP. The first time either No. 3 or No. 4 (let alone both of them) were favored. The first time a true freshman quarterback won the Rose Bowl.

And now, what's left are the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs. They'll meet on Monday night in Atlanta for all the marbles.

National Championship Game – Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Georgia Bulldogs
Date and Time
: Monday, January 8, 2018, 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
Opening National Championship Game Odds: Alabama -4, O/U 47.5
National Championship Game TV Coverage: ESPN

The Jake Fromm story is one that will surely have a 30 for 30 made out of it one day. This is a man who was highly recruited but ultimately expected to sit behind the chosen boy in Athens, Jacob Eason for at least a year or two before one of the two men transferred somewhere else.

Instead, Eason was injured in the first game of the season, and Fromm stepped in to lead the team to the College Football Playoff. Though Fromm was constantly protected by a defense and arguably one of the best duo of running backs in college football history in Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, he made enough throws to win every game aside from the duel at Auburn in November.

Now, Fromm is the first true freshman quarterback to ever win a Rose Bowl. He can become the first to win 14 games in a season and the second to win a National Championship if he can figure out the Alabama defense.

The Crimson Tide were far from brilliant against Clemson in the Sugar Bowl, but they definitively made their point that they are one of the best teams in the country. They held a great Tigers offense to just 188 yards and 13 first downs for the whole game, and they made sure that Kelly Bryant would look nothing like Deshaun Watson with what he did to this defense over the course of the last two seasons.

Jalen Hurts played the role of the game manager perfectly, leading Alabama to near flawless execution in spite of the fact that it mustered just 261 yards of offense itself. Still, the Crimson Tide were running against the best defensive line in the land, and finding a way to get to 141 yards on 42 carries should be considered successful.

Key Matchup

This game is going to come down to whether Georgia can run the ball. We know that the Dawgs have played significantly better defense than they showed against Oklahoma, and the Tide should have problems on offense as they did against Clemson.

But all of those speed sweeps and Wildcat games with Chubb and Michel in the backfield shouldn't work against the Crimson Tide. Kirby Smart was wise enough to learn from his loss to Auburn in the regular season and started to run away from that defensive line. The Bulldogs, though, are going to see speed in this game at all three levels of the defense the likes of which they haven't seen all year long.

If the Tide, who allowed just 92 rushing yards per game this season, start to crack just a bit, the Bulldogs will be live. Otherwise, Nick Saban is winning his sixth National Championship to tie Bear Bryant for the most in FBS history.

National Championship Game Free Picks

All of the top online sportsbooks agree that Alabama should be favored in this game, but there has been a lot of early movement. We've seen this spread be as low as -3 and as high as -5.5, and we suspect we're going to see at least some modest fluctuation over the course of the next week.

In the end, though, Saban flat out doesn't lose to his former assistants. Maybe Kirby Smart ends up being the exception to the rule, but good bettors always bet into streaks instead of against them. There have been 11 times that assistants have tried to beat their former master, and they've all come up woefully short. The Dawgs may hang in there with their defense, but eventually, the bruising Tide will have their way and gash their way to a second National Championship in the last three seasons.

National Championship Game ATS Pick: Alabama -4 at
National Championship Game Score Prediction: Alabama 34, Georgia 10