Georgia vs. TCU: College Football Playoff National Championship Game Early Picks, Predictions, Odds

The 2023 College Football Playoff National Championship has been set. No. 1 Georgia will take on No. 3 TCU at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on Monday, Jan. 9. It’s a David vs. Goliath battle as the defending champion Bulldogs put their crown on the line against a Horned Frogs team that looks like the longest run of the four teams that made it to this season’s CFP.

Georgia got here thanks to a thrilling 42-41 comeback victory over No. 4 Ohio State in the Peach Bowl semifinal. The Bulldogs found themselves down 38-24 entering the fourth quarter, but rallied for three scores to win. Stetson quarterback Bennett IV found wide receiver Adonai Mitchell for a 10-yard touchdown to cap a five-play, 72-yard drive with just 54 seconds left. Bennett finished the game with 398 yards and three touchdowns with most of his work coming in the fourth quarter. It was just the second time this season the Dawgs found themselves in a one-score game.

TCU reached the title game after pulling off the biggest upset in playoff history. The Frogs beat No. 2 Michigan 51-45 as eight-point underdogs in a wild Fiesta Bowl that saw the Frogs’ 18-point lead cut to just three early in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Max Duggan threw two interceptions and completed just 14 of 29 passes for 225 yards, but made enough key plays to give his offense a chance. Wide receiver Quentin Johnston caught six passes for 163 yards and TCU’s defense had two pick-sixes. TCU’s win was the first by a Big 12 team in the CFP.

Let’s take a look at where each team stands ahead of the CFP National Championship before CBS Sports’ college football experts provide their first picks for the game.

No. 1 Georgia (14-0), Peach Bowl champion

Georgia is supposed to be here. The Dawgs won their first national title since 1980 last year and enter the 2022 season as one of the favorites to win the crown again. They did what was expected of them, even if things looked a bit different. Last season, Georgia had what many considered one of the greatest defenses in college football history as it dominated opponents. This year, the Dawgs defense is still one of the best in the country, but it hasn’t been as dominant.

There were times this season when it looked like Georgia was playing with its food. After announcing their comeback with authority in a 49-3 win over Oregon in the season opener, the Dawgs messed up in games against Kent State, Missouri and Kentucky. However, when it came time to get down to business, Georgia did it time and time again. crushed rival Auburn, ended Tennessee’s dreams of a perfect season, beat Florida once again and put up 50 points on LSU in the SEC Championship Game. After beating Ohio State in the Peach Bowl, Georgia has a chance to become the first team to win back-to-back national titles since Alabama (2010-11) and the first ever to do so in the CFP era.

No. 3 TCU (13-1), Fiesta Bowl champion

You know how there’s always that team that tells you, “no one believed in us,” even though they’ve won multiple conference titles and were favorites to win it again this year? Well, if the Frogs tell you that no one believed them, believe them. Nobody believed them. TCU went 5-7 last year and fired longtime coach Gary Patterson. Sonny Dykes crossed town from SMU to take over the program, and the Frogs entered 2022 unranked with particularly low expectations. They started the season with three straight wins over a weak non-conference slate. Once TCU beat No. 19 Oklahoma 55-24, it got no respect.

TCU debuted at No. 17 in the AP Top 25 the following week and has done nothing but climb from there. The win over Oklahoma was the first of four straight over ranked opponents. TCU added a fifth win over a ranked team when it beat Texas 17-10 at home in mid-November. The Frogs were masters of the comeback, usually getting knocked to the mat only to bounce back and keep fighting until their opponents cracked. Duggan started the season as the backup, but an injury to QB Chandler Morris left the door open for Duggan to get the job back — and he never relented. Duggan finished the season as a Heisman Trophy finalist and his resilience was a perfect reflection of the Frogs as a whole. Now the team that started the season unranked and shouldn’t be here has a chance to shock the world again.

Georgia vs TCU early pick, predictions

No. 1 Georgia opens as a 13-point favorite against No. 3 TCU in Los Angeles, according to Caesars Sportsbook.

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