College Football National Championship Odds: Georgia Gold For (Most) Bookmakers

Jan 10, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart holds the National Championship trophy after defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2022 CFP college football national championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Image Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

College football national championship odds wrapped up another season with a highly entertaining title game Monday night in Indianapolis. Georgia, which closed a consensus 3-point favorite, had a strong finishing kick to put away Alabama 33-18.

It was the Bulldogs’ first national title since 1980, a team led by stud running back Herschel Walker. And Georgia’s win and cover vs. Alabama was met well by most sportsbooks — though not quite all.

Multiple oddsmakers provided insights on how Monday’s outcome impacted their college football championship odds market.

CFP National Championship

No. 3 Georgia vs No. 1 Alabama

Jan 10, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Georgia Bulldogs cheerleaders celebrate on a confetti covered field after defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2022 CFP college football national championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Image Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Opening line: Georgia -1, Over/Under 51
Closing line: Georgia -3, Over/Under 53

Shortly before kickoff Monday night, BetMGM vice president of trading Jason Scott was very direct in his operation’s position.

“We want Georgia to cover, and the Under. Worst-case scenario is a ‘Bama win and the Over,” Scott said.

A late pick-six wrapped up the Georgia cover, though that made the score 33-18, just two points shy of the closing total. The Bulldogs made one more stop to close it out and secure the Under.

“A tidy result for us tonight, in what has been a stellar season in college football for bookmakers,” Scott said

BetMGM was swimming in ‘Bama liability in all facets: point spread, moneyline and the futures book. BetMGM Nevada was a microcosm of that, having taken a $315,000 play on Alabama +2.5, and having seen lopsided moneyline play on the Crimson Tide.

“It didn’t look good for the book until late, as we needed Georgia big,” BetMGM Nevada’s Jeff Stoneback said. “Win or lose, it was nice as a fan to finally see a good game in these playoffs.”

The SuperBook found itself on the opposite side of the ledger, in no small part due to significant Georgia championship futures liability. Then about 90 minutes before kickoff, the book took a $225,000 bet on Georgia moneyline -135. So the Bulldogs rallying in the last 10 minutes to score the final 20 points of the game was less than ideal.

“Not a good result for us,” SuperBook risk manager Neil Fitzroy said. “We needed ‘Bama to win or Georgia by 1 or 2. We also needed ‘Bama in the futures market.”

But again, among several books providing postgame comment to Props, The SuperBook was the exception, not the rule.

“Georgia and Under was the best result for us,” WynnBet senior trader Grant Tucker said. “We initially opened slightly higher on the Georgia side (-2.5), and it turned out great for us.”

Likewise, TwinSpires Sportsbook did very well to the result. Pregame, trading analyst Zachary Lucas said Alabama moneyline was the book’s biggest liability among all the markets available. And TwinSpires had ‘Bama futures liability, too.

“This was a great result for us and I imagine for most books,” Lucas said. “Scripted to perfection. Best outcome.”

Although The SuperBook didn’t fare as well as its competitors, executive director John Murray had no complaints about the total handle for the game. His comments mirrored those coming from several sportsbook operators over the past week.

“Massive handle on the game tonight,” Murray said. “I doubt we will write this much on any game between now and the Super Bowl. It’ll probably be bigger than any of the NFL playoff games.”

Previous Georgia vs Alabama Odds Updates

UPDATE 8 P.M. ET MONDAY, JAN. 10: Just before kickoff, Georgia is back up to -3 at WynnBet, after opening at -2.5 and toggling between -2.5 and -3. Alabama is seeing 53% of spread tickets and 59% of spread cash. And the Crimson Tide are getting hammered on the moneyline, with 78% of tickets/98% of cash. The total opened at 52.5 and is now 53, with tickets and money running about 3/1 on the Over.

UPDATE 4:30 P.M. ET MONDAY, JAN. 10: Less than four hours before kickoff, Georgia has returned to -3 at TwinSpires Sportsbook. The Bulldogs opened -2.5 back on New Year’s Even and quickly advanced to -3, then dipped back to the opener. Alabama is netting 65% of spread tickets/58% of spread money.

“The public is taking the points with Alabama. We saw sharp play on Georgia -2.5. It’s Pros vs Joes,” TwinSpires trading analyst Zachary Lucas said, while noting the Crimson Tide are bad in all ways tonight. “They’re a very popular ‘dog. Alabama moneyline is our biggest liability. We’ve got futures and straight bets tied to Alabama. In the futures market, we’re a winner with Georgia and a small loser with Alabama.

“A Georgia win and cover is the most ideal outcome.”

On said moneyline, ticket count is 2/1 and money 3/1 on Alabama, which is currently +120. The total opened at 51.5 and reached 53 today, with 72% of tickets/79% of cash on the Over.

“It’s a mix of public and sharp money on the Over,” Lucas said.

UPDATE 12:30 P.M. ET MONDAY, JAN. 10: DraftKings tabbed Georgia a 2.5-point favorite late on New Year’s Eve, moved to -3 New Year’s Day, then returned to -2.5 Friday. The line has since toggled between Bulldogs -2.5 and -3, and it’s currently Bulldogs -2.5 (-120). Alabama is taking 66% of point-spread bets and 61% of point-spread cash.

The Crimson Tide continue to be a popular moneyline play, as well, landing 75% of tickets/82% of dollars.

The total opened at 52.5 on DK’s college football national championship odds board. On Jan. 2, it dipped to 52, and on Sunday, the total hit its low point of 51.5. That lasted about two hours before going back to 52 and then 52.5 late Sunday night. The Over is drawing 70% of tickets and 74% of money.

UPDATE 1 P.M. ET FRIDAY, JAN. 7: Georgia hit the BetMGM college football championship odds board as a 2.5-point chalk, and in fairly short order went to -3 and stuck there. However, the line finally budged this afternoon, going back to Bulldogs -2.5.

Point-spread ticket count is almost dead even, but money is running 2/1 on Alabama — and there’s a lot of money being bet on this game, in all facets.

“We are seeing good activity, and this will clearly be the biggest handle this football season, in either college or the NFL,” BetMGM vice president of trading Jason Scott told today. “I expect it to be double the previous highest handle.”

As for today’s return to -2.5: “We were seeing some smart money for ‘Bama,” Scott said.

It’s definitely Roll Tide on the moneyline, where tickets and money are running 9/1 on Alabama. The total opened at 52.5, dipped to 51.5 and is now at 52, with bettors banking on points. The Over is collecting 70% of tickets/78% of money.

UPDATE MIDNIGHT ET MONDAY, JAN. 3: This line has had a few days to percolate, and Caesars Sportsbook has settled at Georgia -3. The spread opened Bulldogs -2.5 late on New Year’s Eve and reached a field goal on the evening of New Year’s Day. Alabama is taking 73% of point-spread tickets at Caesars, but 80% of cash so far is on Georgia.

That’s mostly due to two large plays on the Bulldogs, both by the same Nevada customer: $230,000 at -2.5 (-115) and $110,000 at -2.5 (-110).

However, opinion doesn’t differ on the moneyline, where Alabama (+120) is attracting 94% of tickets and 93% of dollars.

“In big games, people siding with the underdog on the moneyline is usually how it works out,” Caesars assistant director of trading Adam Pullen said. “You’re going to have your fair share of Alabama money on the moneyline, and more will come later in the week. I’m a little surprised that the spread has gone up, but there’s been a good amount of money on Georgia on the spread. But Georgia [went off as] a 6-point favorite [in the SEC title game] against Alabama, so people may think there’s value getting them at a much lower number a month later.”

Perhaps so, but it’s worth recalling that a month ago, ‘Bama rolled over Georgia 41-24 in that conference championship tilt.

The total inched up from 52 to 52.5, with 62% of early tickets/73% of early cash on the Over.

UPDATE 9:30 P.M. ET FRIDAY, DEC. 31: With Georgia leading Michigan 17-3 halfway through the second quarter, Murray and his risk team had seen enough. Might as well get those college football national championship odds on the board and let bettors start firing early on New Year’s Eve.

The SuperBook opened at Georgia -1 and within minutes Friday night went to -1.5, then a few minutes later to -2. Georgia then moved to -2.5 during the fourth quarter of its eventual 34-11 thrashing of Michigan.

“It should be a great two-way game. But I would think the public will be on Georgia, with this Michigan beatdown being the last impression either team can make on bettors prior to the [national championship] game,” Murray said.

It was quite an impression.

Georgia, which closed as a 7.5-point chalk, led Michigan 27-3 at halftime and coasted to a 23-point victory. The Bulldogs (13-1 SU, 9-5 ATS) rebounded nicely from their SEC title-game crash. In that Dec. 4 meeting, Alabama spotted Georgia a 10-0 lead. Then the Tide went on a 38-7 tear en route to a 41-24 victory as 6-point neutral-site underdogs.

In Friday’s first semifinal, the Crimson Tide (13-1 SU, 8-6 ATS) picked up where they left off on Dec. 4. Alabama led No. 4 Cincinnati 17-3 at halftime and was never threatened thereafter, winning 27-6 as a 13-point chalk.

That convincing triumph over the unbeaten Bearcats wasn’t quite enough for Murray and Co. to make ‘Bama the favorite in the college football national championship odds market.

Meanwhile, the total opened at 51 and nudged to 51.5 tonight.

“Everyone was in that neighborhood of Georgia small fave to pick ’em,” Murray said. “We opened Georgia -1, knowing the public likely will be on the Bulldogs after [tonight’s] performance. And as we saw other books open higher, and sharp players play Georgia -1 and Georgia -1.5, we moved up to Georgia -2.

“There are still some in the [risk room] who don’t trust Georgia to beat Alabama. But we don’t need to be inviting more Georgia money at this point.”

Indeed, as Murray noted earlier today, The SuperBook will need ‘Bama to make it two in a row against the Bulldogs come Jan. 10.

“Alabama to win it all, for sure,” Murray said. “We have huge liability on Georgia in the futures book.”

That was offset to some degree by one of the first big bets on this big game: $187,604.50 (yes, 50 cents, too) on Alabama moneyline +125.