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No. 1 Georgia clashes with No. 3 TCU to close out the 2022 season at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California on Monday for the College Football Playoff National Championship. The storylines are contrasting: An established power with an entrenched and successful head coach battling a program trying to cap this season with a stunning turnaround. The Bulldogs are the defending national champions and an undeniable juggernaut under seventh-year coach Kirby Smart. By contrast, TCU enters off a 5-7 season in 2021 and is led by a first-year coach in Sonny Dykes.
But the Horned Frogs are proud program with plenty of winning in their history, and Dykes has quickly unlocked their full potential with a high-powered offense and opportunistic defense. Georgia counters with a deep well of offensive playmakers and a defense that has rebounded stunningly well from losing five players in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft after last year’s title run.
In some ways, this is a David vs. Goliath matchup given the recent histories of the programs and the fact that Georgia ranks No. 2 in the 247Sports Talent Composite — a whopping 30 spots ahead of TCU. The Horned Frogs do have some high-end talent, though, with a Heisman Trophy finalist at quarterback in Max Duggan, and their 3-3-5 defensive scheme has kept opponents off-balance all season.
While Georgia has been the more dominant team throughout the season with a whopping 344-point margin over its opponents, TCU is battle-tested. The Horned Frogs played seven games decided by one possession and went 6-1 in those contests with the only loss coming against Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship Game. By then, their first-ever CFP berth had been secured by virtue of a 12-0 regular season.
Now, the Horned Frogs have a chance to claim the program’s first national title since 1938. Standing in their way is a giant of college football, however, and the Bulldogs will be eager to add another trophy to their halls after finally breaking through last season for their first national title since 1980.
CBS Sports will be with you Monday night with live coverage of Georgia vs. TCU in the College Football Playoff National Championship. Follow along for score updates, analysis and highlights from the national championship game.
Game: 2023 College Football Playoff National Championship
Date: Monday, Jan. 9 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: SoFi Stadium — Inglewood, California
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Georgia: If the Bulldogs are going to defend their title and finish 15-0, they will need an all-around effort. Georgia showed a few defensive cracks in the SEC Championship Game against LSU and in a CFP semifinal victory over Ohio State. Specifically, UGA gave up 850 passing yards and seven passing touchdowns in those contests, though their run defense was stout in both games.
Offensively, Georgia will need legendary former walk-on quarterback Stetson Bennett to limit mistakes after he rallied from an otherwise unimpressive performance to lead a stunning fourth-quarter comeback against the Buckeyes. Perimeter receivers Arian Smith and Adonai Mitchell came up with huge grabs in that game, eventually freeing the way for star tight end Brock Bowers to get involved. Bowers is one of the most versatile players in the country, and offensive coordinator Todd Monken can use him either as a decoy or focal point of the game plan to try and keep TCU’s defense off balance.
TCU: The heart and soul of this team is Duggan, who will be foregoing his remaining eligibility and heading to the NFL Draft after this game. While his legacy as a TCU legend is already secure after a magical season that began with him second on the depth chart, a national title would take his stardom to new heights. His favorite target is Quentin Johnston, a likely first-round NFL Draft pick. The 6-foot-4 receiver is both physical and fast, and he showed his playmaking prowess with six catches for 163 yards and a touchdown in the Horned Frogs’ CFP semifinal win over Michigan.
Defensively, TCU ranks behind Georgia in most categories. But in the all-important realm of turnovers forced, the Horned Frogs hold the advantage. TCU has 25 takeaways, including 16 interceptions. Georgia has just 16 total takeaways this season by comparison. In their thrilling semifinal win over Michigan, the Horned Frogs returned two touchdowns for interceptions while demonstrating the clutch playmaking gene that has defined this team through a storybook season.
TCU has proven too clutch and too resilient to reach this stage and suddenly get blown out. Georgia’s defense is good, but not nearly as good as last year’s group, and the Horned Frogs will be able to move the football. Conversely, the Bulldogs hit some concerning offensive snags against Ohio State’s pedestrian defense before staging a remarkable rally in the CFP semifinals. Georgia is the right pick straight up because of its stout red zone defense and diverse array of offensive weapons. But there’s no way this TCU team fades away quietly after everything it has battled through this season. Pick: TCU +12.5 | Georgia 38, TCU 34
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