2022 College Football National Championship Preview: Georgia vs. TCU
John David Yonke
The magical run isn’t over quite yet. The TCU Horned Frogs have made it this far despite continually being counted out at every turn, but their fiercest challenge yet awaits in the mighty Georgia Bulldogs.
Kirby Smart has turned Georgia into a fully operational Death Star. The Bulldogs look to become the first program to win back-to-back championships since the Alabama Crimson Tide did so in 2011 and 2012.
National Championship Game Information
Location: SoFi Stadium | Inglewood, CA
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET | TV: ESPN
This Bulldogs team does not have the same identity as it did a year ago, although there are obvious similarities. The 2021 iteration featured a legendary defense that will go down in the record books as one of the most fearsome units in history. No such dominant unit exists on the 2022 version, although both sides of the ball are highly effective.
Stetson Bennett’s roller-coaster career finally concludes with one final game left to play. He was marvelously efficient in 2022, completing 67.9% of his passes for 8.9 yards per attempt, slinging 3,823 passing yards and 23 touchdowns with seven interceptions.
Creating mismatches is paramount for UGA. Superhuman TE Brock Bowers had 56 receptions for 790 yards and six touchdowns, while RB Kenny McIntosh caught 42 passes for 506 yards and two scores. When your top tight end and running back combine for nearly 1,200 yards and eight TDs through the air, it’s evident you’ve successfully created those mismatches.
The chess match is between TCU defensive coordinator Joe Gillespie and Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken. The Horned Frogs have a pair of stars in First Team All-Big 12 corners Josh Newton and Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson. Look for Monken to create one-on-ones against safeties: Millard Bradford, Mark Perry, and linebacker Dee Winters.
All three struggled at points and could be severely disadvantaged in coverage. Bradford earned a 65.8 coverage grade from PFF on 301 snaps in coverage, while Perry (64.4 coverage grade on 508 coverage snaps) and Winters (58.5 coverage grade on 405 coverage snaps) are bigger liabilities.
National Championship Game Odds on FanDuel
Spread: TCU +13.5 (-110) | Georgia -13.5 (-110)
Moneyline: TCU (+375) | Georgia (-500)
Total: Over 62.5 (-114) | Under 62.5 (-106)
When TCU has the ball, rushing will prove difficult against a UGA defensive front allowing just 80 rushing yards per game and 3.0 yards per carry. The Horned Frogs were the more effective team in the running game on both sides of the ball against the Michigan Wolverines, but that is not likely to continue against a Dawgs unit that is physical and fearsome in the trenches.
Human wrecking ball Jalen Carter leads a nasty Georgia front seven that rotates in players repeatedly. If TCU can keep the chains moving and operate with tempo, Georgia’s rotations could be thrown off, and the big fellas up front will start to get winded. Pulling that off may be easier said than done against a defense allowing just 14.8 points per game.
The matchup everyone will watch outside is projected first-round NFL Draft pick Quentin Johnston against Georgia’s secondary. Kelee Ringo is likely matched up with Johnston for large portions of the game. Ringo is considered one of the best corners in the nation but has been beaten badly at points this season, which could be a concern.
Johnston averages 18.1 yards per reception, so a lockdown game from Ringo and this secondary would likely sink TCU’s chances considering the rushing attack’s chances of success are limited, especially after star running back Kendre Miller (1,399 rushing yards, 6.2 YPC, 17 touchdowns) left the Fiesta Bowl with an injury. Miller is a game-time decision.
Georgia is the rightful favorite in this matchup, but TCU has been proving doubters wrong all season. All eyes will be tuned into the National Championship Game to see if Dykes and company have one more trick up their sleeve.
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