The CFP National Championship game is just hours from kickoff. It sets up to be one of the more unique games in the College Football Playoff era. One of the richest of blue bloods in college football — Georgia — takes on a team in TCU that hasn’t won a football title since 1938. The Horned Frogs have never participated in an official National Championship Game.
Stay tuned-in through our live chat, and brush up on your knowledge heading into the final college football game of the season below.
Georgia has boasted one of the best defenses in college football over the past several years. But this year’s version won’t nearly compare to the elite level of the 2021 ‘Dawgs defense. Still, it’s a team littered with NFL Draft talent across all three levels. The Bulldogs have missed star pass rusher Nolan Smith in a big way since he tore his pectoral at the end of October. Smith was pushing for serious first-round consideration prior to his injury. We’ll talk more about the talent on that side of the ball in a moment.
TCU’s offense is certainly one that can threaten the Bulldogs. They have explosive weapons on the perimeter and an offensive line to hang with Georgia. Quarterback Max Duggan’s NFL projection is a bit foggy, but he’s a gamer that any coach at the college level would want. TCU dismantled Michigan’s defense repeatedly in the CFP Semifinal game.
Georgia’s offense packs a massive punch. They’re a load up front with a multitude of future NFL players on the offensive line. Underclassmen highlight their receiver unit. Arian Smith is one of the unknowns in college football now, but I don’t anticipate that lasts long. He had a monstrous game against Ohio State last week that included a 76-yard touchdown. Smith has a stake to claim for the fastest player in college football. Quarterback Stetson Bennett doesn’t look like he should be anywhere near an SEC starting position, but the former walk-on quarterback has been excellent in leading the Bulldogs to potential back-to-back National Championships.
The Horned Frogs boast plenty of NFL talent on their defense. It’s not to the level of Georgia, but the playmakers are installed to make a fierce defense. TCU defensive coordinator Joe Gillespie runs the 3-3-5 — one of the most difficult fronts for offensive lines to sort through in the sport. If TCU can confuse one of the best offensive lines in college football throughout the evening on Monday, the Frogs have a shot.
Let’s start with TCU’s offense. Quarterback Max Duggan has played the 2022 season like he has something to prove. The fourth-year junior has thrown 32 touchdowns to just six interceptions this season while putting up over 3,500 yards passing. He’s a true gamer at the position, and he should be lauded for his play this season. Duggan is playing himself into “draftable” territory. Wide receiver Quentin Johnston is unquestionably TCU’s best prospect on offense. Johnston has all of the physical attributes you could ever want in a receiver — height, weight, and speed. NFL evaluators are going to be very excited about him in the pre-draft process. His co-pilot, Derius Davis, is an electric prospect at the receiver position as well. He’s not gifted with the same kind of size profile as Johnston, but he is graced with excellent speed. Don’t be surprised to see No. 11 in purple hitting an explosive play Monday night. TCU left guard Steve Avila will have some duties against all-world defensive tackle Jalen Carter during this game. Avila is legit as prospect who could play all over the interior at the next level. It will be something to watch if he gets any matchups against Carter on Monday. Frogs ball carrier Kendre Miller’s status is up in the air for this game after injuring his lower body in the semifinal game against Michigan. Miller is a difference maker at tailback. Not having him in this game would be a blow.
Georgia’s defense will have to match up with the high-powered Frogs offense. As mentioned previously, there’s plenty of talent to get excited about. It all starts with defensive tackle Jalen Carter up front. This defense runs hot when he does. Carter didn’t play like himself in the semifinal game against Ohio State. He flashed periodically, but he didn’t look like the constant disruption he normally is. Carter is well on his way to being a top-five lock in the draft, and he could easily make his case for No. 1 overall. Cornerback Kelee Ringo is likely Georgia’s second-most-prominent draft-eligible prospect on defense. Ringo is more of a ball of traits than a complete product at this point in time. His size profile coupled with his ball skills and athleticism are what make him a quality prospect. But Ohio State picked on him in his most recent game, and it wasn’t pretty for Ringo who looked lost at times — chasing plays rather than reacting with anticipation. Joining him in the defensive backfield is versatile safety prospect Christopher Smith. Smith is on the smaller side for safeties, but he fights well above his weight class on the field. No. 29 for the ‘Dawgs plays everywhere and makes an impact in all of those spots. Playing center field as a post safety and in the slot looks easy for Smith.
Georgia’s offense is loaded with a ton of talent. They have the ideal look on the offensive line with straight “dudes” across the board. Left tackle Broderick Jones is the best of them. He has a chance to be the first tackle off the board in April. His mix of athleticism and power for the position is impressive. Watching him sort through the TCU 3-3 stack defense will be something to monitor throughout the night. One of the freakiest players in the nation is questionable to play Monday with a lower body injury. Tight end Darnell Washington — 6’7”, 270 pounds — is a difference-making inline and perimeter blocker and mismatch for the Bulldogs against TCU. Not having him will be a major (and underrated) blow for the team. Ball carrier Kenny McIntosh is multi-faceted and very talented in what has been a long line of successful running backs for Georgia. McIntosh is one of Georgia’s pass catching threats while also averaging 5.5 yards per carry in 2022. Center Sedrick Van Pran is another power player in the middle of the offensive line for Georgia. Whoever TCU’s nose tackle is on any given play is going to need to prove he can anchor against Van Pran. I’d consider it likely the Bulldogs test the theory early and often if they can move around the Frogs’ front. Another question mark for the Bulldogs is right tackle Warren McClendon. He was unavailable against Ohio State and his availability remains a question for Monday. McClendon presents a compact, solid build at right tackle for the Bulldogs’ offensive line.
On the other end, TCU is going to look to match Georgia’s beef on the offensive line with a defense that wants to throw the kitchen sink at an offensive front and quarterback. The Frogs boast a very strong pass rusher of their own in edge rusher Joshua Horton. He plays a lot of 4i for the Frogs’ 3-man front, but he’s athletic enough to be a versatile piece at the next level in where he may align. Horton has a lot of juice, and is coming off a performance where he amassed four sacks against Michigan. Linebacker Dee Winters is a human missile for the Frogs in the middle of the defense. Blitzing is a staple of the 3-3 and Winters does it as well as anyone. He’s a patented “hair-on-fire” player on the second level. His game against Michigan featured a pick-six in a key moment of the game. Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson is TCU’s potential game breaker on the back end. Hodges-Tomlinson lives for the big play, and you shouldn’t expect that to change in this matchup. Expect to see a lot of No. 1 flying around for the Frogs on defense. He plays like an alpha. He’s likely going to be a love-hate player for NFL evaluators.
This game does have a level of intrigue for many reasons. The common fan might be surprised by the amount of NFL-caliber players for TCU. I believe they’re being discredited to an extent for that reason. The Vegas spread currently sits at -12.5 for the Bulldogs. The “let’s get weird” potential for this game is off the charts because of the explosive offensive prowess on both teams. I believe this will be a high-scoring game with Georgia leaning on TCU late to run away with the championship.