College Football Championship: Can Underdog TCU Beat Big Dog Georgia?

Does TCU have one more upset left in them? On Monday night, millions of American sports fans will flock to their TVs to find out the answer.

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett IV leads the Bulldogs offense during the 2022 College Football Playoff semifinal in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes Benz Stadium on December 31, in Atlanta. Bennett and his team are heavy favorites to win their second straight national title on Monday night. (Photo by Jason Parkhurst/Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl)

The Horned Frogs are all that stand in the way of Georgia claiming its second straight College Football Playoff championship. However, the sportsbooks don’t believe TCU, which enters the game with a 13-1 record, has much of a chance against the 14-0 Bulldogs.

Most oddsmakers have TCU as a 13 or 13.5-point underdog to the vaunted Bulldogs, who haven’t lost in more than a year and are an incredible 32-1 dating back to Nov. 21, 2020. TCU, meanwhile, was picked to finish seventh in the Big 12’s preseason poll and had odds of 200-1 to win the national title as recently as October at BetMGM.

TCU does have one big backer. Houston furniture store owner and noted gambler Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale put up $1.5 million on the Horned Frogs to win straight up at DraftKings. At +370 odds, he stands to collect $5.5 million.

TCU Comes Loaded on Offense

So, we’re talking about a David vs. Goliath situation here, but this time, David needs a little more firepower than a slingshot. That’s especially true against a Georgia defense that allows just two touchdowns and slightly more than 300 yards per game, both of which led the SEC.

TCU, to their credit, does have that. The Horned Frogs average more than 474 yards and 41 points per game. Those marks are 13th and fifth best in the country, respectively. Max Duggan has thrown for 3,546 yards and an impressive 32-to-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio while completing 63.7% of his passes. Kendre Miller has 1,399 yards rushing and 17 scores, and averages more than six yards a carry.

Michigan was supposed to end the Horned Frogs season on New Year’s Eve in the Fiesta Bowl, but TCU put up 51 points on the Wolverines – with 14 of those points coming on interceptions returned for touchdowns.

Is Bennett the Difference?

This is where Georgia does have a decided advantage over Michigan. The Wolverines had 19-year-old JJ McCarthy under center, who, aside from those two costly picks, played well and kept Michigan in the game.

The Bulldogs enter Monday with quarterback and likely future Georgia governor Stetson Bennett IV leading the way. At 25 years of age, Bennett is already older than Justin Hebert, Brock Purdy, Jalen Hurts, and Trevor Lawrence – all quarterbacks who will lead teams into the NFL playoffs this season.

It seems unlikely that a player like Bennett, who is typically poised, will make unforced errors. He’ll also likely be able to withstand any pressure applied by the Horned Frogs, whose defense ranked 80th nationally in yards allowed (395.3 per game) and 64th in points allowed (26.4 per game).

But Georgia coach Kirby Smart pointed out TCU’s 3-3-5 defensive setup will be different from anything the Bulldogs have faced.

It allows you to have more depth in your defense,” Smart told reporters Saturday. “It allows you, when you play spread teams, you have more speed on the field. There’s different layers to it, more layers to it. They do a tremendous job.”

While oddsmakers expect Georgia to win easily, they also expect a high-scoring affair. The total ranges between 62.5 and 63.5 points at most sportsbooks.

The championship game takes place at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. It airs at 7:30 pm ET on ESPN.

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