An exciting college football season will come to an end on Monday when No. 1 Georgia and No. 3 TCU meet in the College Football Playoff Championship.
It’s an intriguing matchup, a classic David-vs.-Goliath showdown.
On the one hand, you have defending national champions Georgia, an SEC and NFL talent factory that has lost just one game over the past two seasons. The Bulldogs are looking to become the first repeat champions since Alabama in 2011-12.
On the other hand, you have TCU, a small school by Power 5 standards outside the Big 12, a program that was so little thought of entering the season that it was not only unranked but was picked to finish seventh in its own conference. .
Here’s everything you need to know about the College Football Playoff Championship Game.
National Championship match: No. 3 TCU vs. no. 1 Georgia
Where: SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, Calif.
When: Monday, 7:30pm ET
Possibilities: Georgia at 12.5 (via FOX Bet, starting Wednesday evening ET)
HOW THEY GET HERE
Georgia: The Bulldogs stayed undefeated thanks to a fourth quarter comeback and a 42-41 win over Ohio State in the Peach Bowl. Buckeyes kicker Noah Ruggles missed a potentially game-winning 50-yard field goal in the final seconds.
You can read a full breakdown of the game here.
TCU: The Horned Frogs topped Big Ten champion Michigan with a wild 51-45 victory in the Fiesta Bowl. Dylan Horton had four sacks and a forced fumble, and Bud Clark i Dee Winters each returned interceptions for touchdowns.
You can read a full breakdown of the game here.
Can Max Duggan lead a Georgia upset?
KEY TO THE GAME
Bryan Fischer has a full breakdown of what to expect when either team has the ball, here.
When Georgia has the ball
The Bulldogs are unique in that they have two tight ends.
Brock Bowers won the Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end and leads the team in catches, yards and touchdowns. He’s also scored three times on the ground and is averaging more than 13 yards per rush, using his athleticism and frame to look as nimble as one of the team’s top three.
Then there is Darnell Washington at 6-foot-7 and 270 pounds. Although he is questionable for the title match after suffering an injury against Ohio State, the big junior’s presence typically allows the team to line up in 12 (one back, two tight ends) or 22 (two backs, two tight ends) much more than your typical college football program. Having Washington and Bowers to block running plays can create daylight-generating advantages and overloads Kenny McIntosh, Daijun Edwards or Kendall Milton to run
These tight ends can also become weapons in the passing game, whether against smaller defenses or slower linebackers. Throw a quarterback Stetson Bennett that thrives on identifying coverages and knowing where to put the ball, and there’s a reason UGA has had a top-10 scoring offense the past two years.
“That’s the unique thing about this team. Most of the time you play against a good team and there’s two or three guys you’re like, look, we’ve got to take this guy out,” Dykes said. “But Georgia has so many good players and guys that are really exceptional talents. You can’t go into a game and say, OK, look, we’re going to do it, if we take this guy away, they’re going to have problems. It’s not the case that his offense.”
When TCU has the ball
While Dykes is the first–A disciple of the Air Raid generation, the Horned Frogs rank fourth in the nation in scoring this season through remarkable balance, rushing for just over 204 yards per game while throwing for less than 270 each time. Much of that is directly attributable not only to the philosophy, but also to the guy running the show at the Heisman runner-up. Max Duggan.
“He’s got great players to do it with. He understands defenses. I think he’s very smart. There’s no defense he’s going to see that he hasn’t seen before. You’re not fooling an experienced quarterback,” the Georgia coach said , Kirby Smart. of the TCU veteran behind center. “They have a system that allows him to handle that and get back to third downs where you have a chance to convert.”
As Ohio State proved, you can find some success against the Bulldogs with your passing attack, as their secondary is the weakest of Smart’s three levels this season. TCU often uses formations that maximize the full width of the field and will need to continue to do so in the title game, with receivers lined up outside the numbers pushing defenders out of the box and out of their traditional lanes. Kent State He had some success doing that earlier in the season, and there’s no reason to think the Horned Frogs can’t get something going and even incorporate it into their typically successful screen game.
At the same time, Dykes and Duggan will need to stay aggressive and pick good spots to take shots on big plays. They’ve been phenomenal at punctuating things for both long touchdowns and big yards and they’ll need to keep it up if they want to have a chance to win it all.
THE SELECTIONS: WHO WINS THE GAME AND WHY?
We asked our staff to predict which team would win the big game. Below are some short snippets, but you can do it SEE ALL PREDICTIONS HERE.
“TCU will need more magic than UGA, like two pick-sixes, to pull off the biggest upset in the history of the College Football Playoff era.” —RJ Young
“For Georgia to become the first team to win back-to-back national championships since then Alabama he did in 2011 and 2012, he will have to do the opposite of what Michigan did at the Fiesta Bowl. And that stops TCU’s running game.” —Laeken Litman
“It feels like [TCU has] enough athleticism and willingness to move the ball on a Georgia defense that is arguably the best in college football thanks in part to offensive coordinator Garrett Riley’s well-rounded game plans.” – Michael Cohen
“TCU doesn’t look like they’re happy to be here and legitimately have a chance, but it’s hard to overlook the experience Kirby Smart’s crew has at times like this as they’re coming off back-to-back national titles and secures its place in the history books.” – Bryan Fischer
- The selection: Georgia (three votes)
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