National Championship Preview: Georgia vs. TCU
Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett (Photo by Perry McIntyre/ISI Photos)
The reigning college football National Champions will meet an ultimate underdog. The Georgia Bulldogs won its first title since 1980 last season. Led by former junior college and former walk-on quarterback Stetson Bennett, the Bulldogs were a breath of fresh air in the sport. Their opponent, TCU, were a heavy underdog to simply win its conference in the preseason. The Horned Frogs have defied expectations to get to this game. A win would put a bow on one of the greatest stories in college football history.
Here is a breakdown of Monday’s game and what matchups to watch for:
TCU offense vs Georgia defense
The Horned Frogs offense is plenty potent to make this one a ball game. Goodness gracious, they can make explosive plays happen with a flick of the wrist of Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback Max Duggan. Or TCU can capably run the ball at will when they boast a completely healthy stable of running backs.
After racking up three touchdowns in a Fiesta Bowl thriller, the Frogs have scored 36 rushing touchdowns on the season. That’s easily one the best marks in all of college football this season. On the flip side, will TCU be able to run on a defense that’s only given up 100 yards to a team on the ground four times this season?
TCU quarterback Max Duggan (Photo by TCU Athletics)
Running backs Kendre Miller (1,399 yards and 17 touchdowns) and Emari Demercado (622 yards and 12 touchdowns) are the leading rushers for TCU.
Georgia tries to establish their run defense early, allowing teams to rush for less than 80 yards per game. Yet again, that stat has them at the top as best run defense in the sport.
TCU was able to find big plays all over the field in the Fiesta Bowl. The Horned Frogs have recorded 89 plays of 20 yards or more during the regular season. Georgia is right behind them with 88 plays of 20 or more yards. However, TCU leads the country in 50-yard plays (21) and 60+ yard plays (12).
This game will be ultimately won at the line of scrimmage. Will TCU be able to stand up to the challenge of blocking All-American defensive lineman Jalen Carter and the rest of the Bulldog defensive front seven? - Jacob Davis
Georgia offense vs TCU defense
The TCU defense started strongly against Michigan in the semifinal, but the floodgates opened in the second half. The Horned Frogs forced two turnovers in the first half including a pick six by safety Bud Clark. They also did a good job of holding Michigan to field goals instead of touchdowns. It was the complete opposite in the second half as Michigan scored a touchdown on five of its ten possessions. The TCU defense did step up late as they forced a couple of three and out drives and a turnover on downs to seal the victory.
Bennett and the Georgia offense don’t have any easy task, but it certainly won’t be the most difficult defense that they have ever faced. Bennett threw an early interception in the semifinal against Ohio State, but he rebounded well. Bennett led the Bulldogs to a game winning touchdown drive late in the game.
Georgia will have a big advantage at the tight end position. Brock Bowers is one of the best players in the nation regardless of position. Darnell Washington is another name to watch for at the tight end position. With TCU’s 3-3-5 defensive scheme, expect Georgia’s receivers to be well-covered. The tight ends might be the key for the Bulldogs. The big concern for the TCU defense is if they can get pressure on Bennett. If not, expect Bennett to burn the Horned Frogs secondary.
Georgia tight end Brock Bowers (Photo by Curtis Compton)
The big question for TCU heading into the game against Michigan was the physicality. Could TCU match the toughness of the mighty Wolverines? The answer was a resounding yes. While Georgia is a different animal in the trenches, the Bulldogs can’t afford to take this defense lightly. Dee Winters is a hard-hitting linebacker that flies all over the field. Defensive lineman Dylan Horton was a force against Michigan. He had four sacks against the Joe Moore Award winning offensive line. Don’t forget about future NFL draft pick Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson at cornerback. He might have the task to contain the speedy Georgia wide receiver Arian Smith.
Don’t expect Georgia to have a hard time scoring points. The Bulldogs have plenty of weapons at their disposal. However, TCU will capitalize on turnovers and other mistakes. The Horned Frogs are an opportunistic team. - Brendan Moore
For TCU to have a chance in this one they must be firing on all cylinders. Both sides of the ball have to play the game of their lives.
Duggan must protect the ball at all costs. Their offensive line has to contain Carter and the rest of the Bulldogs talented defensive line to prevent finding themselves in negative plays on early downs. The Horned Frogs must stay on schedule if they want to spoil the Georgia party in Los Angeles.
My pick has to stay with the Bulldogs, though. They’ll end a storybook season for TCU, but the Horned Frogs won’t go down without a fight.
Georgia 49, TCU 27
If TCU pulls the upset, it might be one of the greatest stories and upsets in college football history. While it is unlikely, there is a path. The Horned Frogs need to get pressure on Bennett. If they allow Bennett to cook, the Bulldogs can tear apart the TCU secondary. TCU also needs to get the run game going with Miller, if healthy, and Demercado. It will be tough because Georgia only allows 80 rushing yards per game. The turnover battle will be key as well. If TCU can steal multiple possessions and maybe even get a defensive touchdown, the Horned Frogs will stand a chance.
With all that being said, it’s hard to see Georgia not winning this football game. Expect the offensive line to give Bennett a ton of time in the pocket. The Bulldogs will throw the football all over the yard. Duggan and the TCU offense will put up enough points to make it interesting, but in the end, Georgia will win its second National Championship in as many years.
Georgia 49, TCU 38