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Sharp money on Georgia-Alabama side in SEC title game

Alabama has been favored in 92 straight games and 164 of 165 dating to 2009.

Those streaks will come to an end in Saturday’s Southeastern Conference football championship game against Georgia.

The No. 1 Bulldogs (12-0) are 6½-point favorites over the No. 3 Crimson Tide (11-1) after the line opened at 3 on Nov. 15 at Circa Sports, which took multiple sharp bets on Georgia.

“Big bets from a couple weeks ago on the opener of Georgia -3, then we rewrote some limit action -6 when we reopened it this past Sunday,” Circa sportsbook director Matthew Metcalf said in a text. “Some nibbles on the Bama money line at +220.”

The last two times Alabama was an underdog, the Crimson Tide rolled, crushing Georgia 38-10 as a 1-point ’dog in 2015 and whipping Florida 32-13 as a 5-point ’dog in the 2009 SEC title game.

Alabama enters on a 1-3 ATS skid and escaped with a 24-22 win over Auburn last week in four overtimes.

Sharps and the betting public are fading the Tide. So is professional sports bettor Paul Stone, who noted that Alabama has four SEC wins by seven points or fewer this season after sweating only three such wins in the previous six seasons combined.

‘Mere mortals’

“That doesn’t even include the Tide’s midseason loss at Texas A&M,” said Stone (@paulstonesports). “Alabama, this season, has kind of been mere mortals. Georgia, on the other hand, has played pretty much lights out and is the clear No. 1 team.”

The Bulldogs lead the nation in scoring defense by a wide margin, allowing 6.92 points per game, and hasn’t given up more than 17 points in a game.

“Georgia is just head and shoulders above everybody this year,” Westgate SuperBook vice president of risk Ed Salmons said. “They haven’t been challenged.”

Since defeating Clemson 10-3 in the season opener, Georgia has beaten every opponent by 17 points or more.

Alabama might be missing leading rusher Brian Robinson Jr., who is questionable with a pulled muscle.

“The Tide is hurting,” Stone said. “It’s just not the same Alabama team, and it’s not the same offense.

“It just seems like it’s Georgia’s time. I got them at -4, and I can still recommend them at 6½.”

Salmons also bet the Bulldogs -4 and recommends a play on the Tide if the line reaches 7.

“You’re going to see Alabama’s best shot,” he said. “Is that enough to beat Georgia? Probably not. But Alabama will probably keep the game somewhere reasonable where they’ll cover. If you get 7 or 7½, you have to take a shot on Alabama.”

Sharp bettors have been all over the under, driving the total from 54½ to 49½.

“It doesn’t feel like a shootout game,” Salmons said.

Here are three other plays from Stone and Salmons:

Western Kentucky-Texas-San Antonio (Over 72½), Friday

The Conference USA foes combined for 98 points Oct. 9 in Texas-San Antonio’s 52-46 win over Western Kentucky.

“They can have three touchdowns less scored and still get the money,” Stone said. “I don’t typically like to take totals over 70 in college football. But both these teams play extremely fast, and the game will be played indoors.”

Oregon (+3) over Utah, Friday

Salmons expects the Ducks to avenge their 38-7 loss at Utah on Nov. 20 and win their third straight Pac-12 title game.

“These teams are very similar, and now you get the team that was blown out, and they are motivated and getting three points,” he said. “And they have a history of winning Pac-12 title games.”

Houston (+10½) over Cincinnati, Saturday

The Cougars have won 11 straight games after losing their season opener to Texas Tech and can spoil the No. 4 Bearcats’ bid for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

“Cincinnati knows if they win, they’re in. No margin. Just win. So now they’ve got a ton of pressure on them,” Salmons said. “Houston is kind of an underrated team because Cincinnati is in that conference. This is their chance to basically go on a public stage and show them what they’ve got.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

Best bets for CFP semifinals; sharps take total

Alabama is a 13½-point favorite over Cincinnati in Friday’s CFP semifinal at the Cotton Bowl, and Georgia is a 7½-point favorite over Michigan at the Orange Bowl.