CFP Semifinal double header finally live up to hype
We've waited nine seasons for a night of back-to-back exciting playoff games in the FBS.
December 31, 2022 will go down as the day we finally received what college football fans deserved all along, two highly competitive thrillers between four of the best teams in the country. TCU and Michigan combined for the second most points in the history of the playoffs. Then, one of the most incredible fourth quarter comebacks happened in the night cap when Georgia trailed by fourteen points in the final stanza.
Stetson Bennett gave Georgia one of the best quarterback performances in school history by going 10-12 passing for 190 yards and two touchdowns in the final 15 minutes to bring his Bulldogs to their second consecutive national championship appearance.
There have been several very explosive one-off games on New Year's eve with the latter often being a rout. The first upset of its kind was Ohio State led by Ezekiel Elliot and famed backup Cardale Jones over mighty Alabama in the 2014 Sugar Bowl.
Skip a couple of seasons until the rise of mighty Georgia continued in a duel between Baker Mayfield and Jake Fromm (plus his incredible rushing attack). The 54-48 double overtime Rose Bowl remains the highest scoring playoff game since its inception. To this day, it is still remembered as one of the greatest playoff games in the era.
The 2019 Fiesta Bowl pitted Clemson and Ohio State against each other for the second time in the playoffs. Down 17-16 entering the fourth quarter, the Buckeyes scored with 3:07 remaining in the game on a touchdown pass from Justin Fields to Chris Olave. Then, Clemson would high step 94 yards in four plays with a 32-yard touchdown reception by Travis Etienne to retake the lead. Following the score, the Tigers would convert a two-point conversion and ultimately advance to the championship game with a 29-23 win.
The Bulldogs moved to 14-0 on the season and no face TCU on January 9th for their chance to be the first repeat College Football Playoff champion. An achievement that would crown their two year one as the toughest to accomplish throughout the history of the sport.
Now, the Horned Frogs are in their first National Championship game appearance ever. They are the first team to not rank in the preseason AP Poll to make the final since Auburn did so in 2013.
After firing their hall of fame worthy coach, Gary Patterson, it seemed that TCU's football program was set to experience eternal mediocrity. They hired a barely .500 head coach in Sonny Dykes and skyrocketed to being the best team in the Big 12.
The Horned Frogs weren't supposed to be here so quick. They went just 5-7 in 2021 and the long rebuild seemed inevitable. However, fate changed things. Luck changed things. TCU might be the luckiest team in college football this season with so many one possession or quarter comeback victories leading to the conference championship game.
What can we expect from an unlikely championship game such as this one? Will Georgia be the dominant force and win their second straight championship? Will TCU complete their storied season as one of the greatest turnarounds in the history of college athletics? We shall see but let's appreciate what we were able to see on Saturday. It was college football at its best.