Another college football season will wrap up tonight, with the TCU Horned Frogs taking on the Georgia Bulldogs in the National Championship Game. Sonny Dykes and TCU will be looking to secure a storybook ending to their miraculous turnaround season, while the Georgia Bulldogs will look to put their name in the college football dynasty conversation. We’ll preview the game before getting into how I’ll be betting on it.
Max Duggan and TCU didn’t just beat the Michigan Wolverines in the semi-final game, they embarrassed a Michigan defense that ranked sixth in the country in points allowed and had only let up more than 23 points just one other time all season. The Horned Frogs managed to score 51 points and rack up a combined 488 yards while breaking off multiple explosive downfield plays as they did for the entirety of the regular season.
It’s clear that an offense is explosive and can score at any moment when their quarterback can complete 14 passes and still have 225 yards and two touchdowns. It helps that Max Duggan can rely so heavily on Quentin Johnston, who had his second straight 100+ yards receiving game and proved he’s one of the best receivers in the country.
On the ground, the Horned Frogs managed to rush for 263 yards, and although it is still unclear if Kendre Miller will be able to play, they should still be in good hands with Emari Demercado. Not having Miller certainly is not ideal, but Demercado was able to rush for 150 yards against Michigan on 17 carries and gives the Horned Frogs at least some balance on offense.
Defensively TCU was able to force three turnovers against Michigan, and two of them were returned for touchdowns. Safety Bud Clark was able to score on his team-leading fifth interception of the season, and he’ll need to continue that play tonight if they want to slow down the Georgia offense.
The Horned Frogs were only ranked 50th in the country in takeaways a game, but Stetson Bennett and the Bulldogs' offense showed they were human against Ohio State, turning the ball over once and consistently stalling on drives in the first and third quarters.
Head coach Kirby Smart was very critical of his team after their come-behind victory over Ohio State. The Bulldogs did not look like their usual dominant selves on either side of the ball and ultimately never looked like they were in control of the game outside of their final scoring drive.
The Bulldogs' defense which allowed an average of just 15.9 points and 318.2 yards per game this season, let up 41 points and 467 yards to the Buckeyes. Georgia’s passing defense allowed two receivers to go over 100 yards and let up four passing touchdowns in the game.
Georgia’s strength on defense was stopping the run all season, ranking first in rushing yards allowed per game, but the pass defense will need to regroup after their last outing.
Offensively, despite scoring 42 points in the game, the Bulldogs looked shaky at times, both on the ground and through the air. Entering the semi-finals, the Bulldogs’ offense was ranked 15th in rushing yards per game and third in yards per carry, but they only managed 135 rush yards against Ohio State, with Kenny McIntosh getting only five rush attempts in the game.
At the time of writing this, the point total is currently listed at 63.5 points, and I’ll be taking the over as my best bet for the game. This has arguably been one of the most exciting College Football Playoffs we’ve seen, and I think that will continue into tonight with a high-scoring game.
Max Duggan and Quentin Johnston should be able to find similar success as Ohio State did against the Georgia secondary, and they should be able to find the end zone through the air a few times.
As for Georgia, Brock Bowers has an excellent chance to have a big game against a TCU defense that allowed an average of 245.8 passing yards per game. If Stetson Bennett plays more to his true form, the Bulldogs should be able to continue their streak of scoring 33 or more points in CFP semi-final or championship games.