This is the big one, as Georgia attempts to become the first repeat champion in the College Football Playoff era not named North Dakota State. The Bulldogs didn’t play well at all against Ohio State in the Peach Bowl, yet they still had enough to squeeze out a win. That could be a sign of things to come. Or it could be the wakeup call that Georgia needed to make it back-to-back titles.
TCU comes into this game wholly unburdened, as nobody expected the Horned Frogs to get here. But the Frogs came up big against Michigan and managed to hang on, earning a chance to be the rough equivalent of Leicester City’s magical run in the Premier League. But this will mark the hardest game they’ve played all year. They’ve got to deal with one of the best defenses in the nation, without one to match.
As strong as Georgia has looked, the Bulldogs have a defensive weakness. They haven’t played well against a good passing attack when faced with one. Georgia’s pass defense has proven middling this year, and the Dawgs really didn’t face a great schedule. The dirty secret of the SEC was that only around four teams were actually good this season, and Georgia didn’t face Alabama and gave up 30 points to LSU. The Dawgs showed they’re susceptible to a good attack against Ohio State.
SPREAD PLAY: GEORGIA -13.5, -110
Everyone wants to see the upset happen. But I don’t see that working out, because I don’t see TCU stopping Georgia’s offense. The Bulldogs know they played poorly against Ohio State, and they aren’t likely to turn in another weak showing. Stetson Bennett should be able to feast on a defense that gave up 40 to Oklahoma State and 31 to Kansas.
Can TCU possibly keep up? My guess is no, because championship games usually don’t turn out to be close games. The past four national championships have all been decided by 15 points or more, and six out of nine have covered this number. I do think the Frogs can score, but I don’t think they can do enough to keep up with Georgia. The Dawgs’ offense has proven itself all season long, and I think they can do it one more time. As long as it stays under 14, this play looks good to me.
TOTALS PLAY: OVER 62.5, -110
I’m taking this for my lock-off with Pace, and there’s a reason for it. ollege teams wear down over the course of four months. The Georgia defense showed signs of that when it couldn’t slow Ohio State down, and the same held for Michigan’s defense. Just like it’s usually a blowout, the title game is also usually high-scoring.
There are two reasons for that. First, teams get desperate over the course of a championship game. Once someone gets a lead, the other team has to take more chances. Second, big players make big-time plays. In a championship game, both teams are loaded with playmakers. Any of them could change the game in minutes, and in a game like this, that usually happens multiple times.
Throw in defensive fatigue, and there’s a good chance that we see points. TCU doesn’t have to put up a lot of points to cash this over; it just has to stay in the game. As long as the Frogs can get to around 24 points, the total should cash.
PLAYER PROP: STETSON BENNETT OVER 20.5 COMPLETIONS, -110
TCU’s pass defense isn’t up to the level it needs to be. That should allow Stetson Bennett to come out firing, and if he does, he’ll hit this prop play. TCU gives up 235 yards per game through the air, and Bennett has topped 20.5 in nine of 14 games this season. Georgia likely understands the way to win this game is to throw regularly, which should allow Bennett to cash.
QUARTER PROP: GEORGIA -4 2Q, -110
TCU tends to start quickly, while Georgia is more hit or miss. That leads me to believe that the second quarter is where Georgia makes its move. In the SEC title game, the Bulldogs outscored LSU 21-3 in the second quarter and buried the Tigers, leading to garbage time. I don’t think this becomes a blowout that early, but I do expect a Georgia halftime cushion. If the Frogs are still around at the break, then I might get nervous.