2023 National Championship Odds & Best Bets: Our Staff’s Top 7 Picks for TCU vs. Georgia
Ryan Collinsworth/Action Network.
A College Football Playoff National Championship game is never complete without some bets. Luckily, our staff has been waiting for this game between TCU and Georgia for the past four months.
Our college football writers came through with seven best bets for Monday’s national title game, including a spread bet, an over/under pick, an alternate spread and a couple of first-quarter and first-half plays. Plus, two experts are aligned on the underdog’s team total.
So, no matter how you’re looking to bet the last game of the 2022-23 college football season, we have you covered.
2023 College Football National Championship Best Bets
The picks in this table represent our college football staff’s best bets for Monday’s 2023 National Championship between TCU and Georgia. Click the picks below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
|Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAF Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.|
Georgia is an elite team that simply doesn’t get enough credit. Last year’s team was considered generational; however, the argument can — and should — be made that this year’s iteration is just as good, if not better.
The Bulldogs enter the National Championship undefeated, a feat they didn’t accomplish last year.
Stetson Bennett has solidified himself as one of the best quarterbacks in Georgia history, just one season after fighting tooth and nail for the starting job.
After being totally ravaged by the NFL Draft in the offseason, the defense was completely restocked with NFL talent and finished the regular season ranked second in scoring defense after ending last year ranked first nationally in total points allowed.
Kirby Smart continues to wow on the recruiting trail, in the locker room and on the sidelines.
Meanwhile, TCU has been one of the best stories of the season. After starting the season and the Sonny Dykes era unranked, the Horned Frogs have ascended to the pinnacle of the college football landscape.
TCU is in a striking position to do what would have been unimaginable in August, but one has to wonder if the good fortune that served as wind in its sails will still be there on Monday night.
The guys in purple will need it, because it’s going to take copious amounts of good fortune to supplant the defending national champs.
After limping by Baylor and losing to Kansas State, TCU has shown elements of weakness that could be easily exploitable by a prepared Georgia Team. Primarily, the TCU defense remains a huge liability at best.
The transitive property of college football is tough to apply, but I think we should skip past both team’s Big Ten opponents in the CFP and analyze the Sugar Bowl, which was an SEC vs. Big 12 matchup.
Well, what happened was the cream rose to the top, and an Alabama team that just missed out on the College Football Playoff mauled a Kansas State team that beat TCU in the Big 12 Championship.
The TCU story has been really fun, and I personally am a fan of the program. But I fully expect the National Championship to be a repeat of the Sugar Bowl with Georgia’s superior talent — especially on defense — putting an end to the Cinderella story for TCU.
I love laying the chalk at 12.5 for two reasons. First, this is a really great football number, just inside the two key numbers of 13 and 14. Secondly, I have a model advantage here and am projecting as 16.5-point favorites.
In the end, it will be the Bulldog defense that gets the job done once again as Georgia becomes the first back-to-back champions on the CFP era, but look for 25-year-old quarterback Stetson Bennett to have a huge game and solidify himself as the best Georgia quarterback ever.
By Cody Goggin
TCU football has been a wonderful story this year, but everyone believes this is where the Cinderella story will come to an end.
Georgia is the reigning national champions, and we just watched it put up 533 total yards against an Ohio State defense that’s considered to be better than the one TCU’s fielding. Michigan gained a similar 528 yards against TCU, but at the end of the day, its costly turnovers proved to be too much to overcome.
TCU’s offense did show some promising signs in this game, though. The Horned Frogs’ offensive line held up well enough against Michigan’s pressure, and they moved the ball effectively against another one of the best defenses in the country. TCU put up a Success Rate in the 96th percentile in a playoff game against SP+’s fourth-ranked defense in the country, which is ridiculously impressive.
Georgia will likely have its way with this TCU defense that ranked 80th in Rushing Success Rate Allowed this season.
Max Duggan and the offense is what got TCU this far. While it probably will not be enough to win the game, I do believe it will score points, especially if trailing.
I also don’t have any doubts about Stetson Bennett and this Georgia offense’s ability to put up points. While I think the Bulldogs walk away victorious, I think we see plenty of scoring. The Horned Frogs won’t go down without a fight.
Georgia 1H -6.5
Let’s get straight to the point: Georgia is going to jump the Horned Frogs. Yes, TCU beat Michigan as nearly a touchdown underdog, but let’s be honest — everything broke its way, and it still almost blew it.
That won’t be the case against the defending national champions.
I love the value here of getting the Dawgs at under a touchdown for the first half. I think this has been driven down by an overwhelming public sentiment in favor of the Horned Frogs.
I know TCU jumped Michigan early, but I highly doubt it will be able to replicate that early success in this game.
For starters, Georgia is one of the best offensive teams in the country. This is not a “hold onto a tight lead” team. It ranks in the top 10 of Offensive Success Rate, Points per Opportunity and Havoc Allowed. This is an extremely favorable matchup against a defense that ranks below average in Havoc and Points Per Opportunity Allowed.
Look for the Bulldogs to jump TCU early. I’m anticipating a nice lead for Georgia going into the half.
Georgia 1Q -3
By Doug Ziefel
The Horned Frogs’ massive upset of Michigan was impressive, but it was far from a complete performance. If they’re going to pull off another monumental upset, they need to be sharp from the beginning.
Georgia survived its semifinal with a high-powered Ohio State offense. Now, it will face a TCU offense that plays right into the strength of its stellar defense.
The Bulldogs finished fourth in yards per rush and first in rushing yards allowed per game. However, they also have a stellar defensive line that can create pressure and an excellent secondary to make windows tight for Max Duggan.
On the other side of the ball, we should expect Georgia to come out and establish the run game. The Dawgs ranked third in yards per rush and will face a TCU defense that ranked 64th in yards per rush allowed.
While it’s clear the Bulldogs have edges on both sides of the football, the most significant factor in this play is experience. This Georgia team has been here; the Bulldogs are the defending national champions, after all.
Expect them to be well-prepared and exhibit no early-game jitters as they methodically dominate the opening quarter.
TCU Alternate Spread +7.5
And just like that, we’ve reached Monday night and the final game of the 2022-23 college football season. It’s been a hell of a ride since late August, and I expect a fantastic finale to cap off the year.
Given there’s a relatively large contingent of people out there who believe the Dawgs will roll tonight, I think TCU will surprise many once again.
The Cinderella Frogs have been proving doubters wrong all season, and is that really gonna change now that they’ve come all this way?
Max Duggan and the Horned Frogs offense can replicate many of the things Ohio State did to move the ball at will against the Georgia defense. Look for the Heisman finalist to use his legs throughout the game, just as CJ Stroud did for big chunk plays.
Similarly to Marvin Harrison Jr., TCU has a stud in wide receiver Quentin Johnston, who will be able to win plenty of one-on-one matchups on the perimeter.
On the other side of the ball, people continue to dismiss the toughness of Joe Gillespie’s defense. I thought Michigan was going to run all over the soft 3-3-5? TCU has contained some great rushing attacks all year, including the likes of Deuce Vaughn and Bijan Robinson. Thee Frogs also have the cornerbacks to hold up on the outside.
Look, Georgia will certainly get theirs, and the Bulldog defense is still elite. But TCU has the personnel and belief to give Kirby and company everything it can handle in this one.
Not only do I believe TCU will cover this game, I expect the Frogs to hang inside one possession and have a chance late to win outright.
You don’t mess with destiny. Give me TCU on the alternate line with a sprinkle of moneyline.
Pick: TCU Alt. Spread +7.5 (+150)
TCU Team Total Under 25.5
The question for Georgia defensively is whether or not it can pressure Max Duggan enough so its secondary doesn’t get exposed.
Duggan was pressured on 32.4% of his dropbacks this season, and there’s a big difference when Duggan is under duress versus when he has a clean pocket. When Duggan has a clean pocket, his PFF passing grade sits at 90.3 with an 80.1% adjusted completion percentage. When he’s under pressure, though, his PFF passing grade drops to 52.3, while his adjusted completion percentage falls to 56.8%.
However, if TCU is going to take the same approach as Ohio State and try to throw deep against Georgia, Duggan is well-equipped to do that. His PFF passing grade on throws of 20 yards or more comes in at 92.9.
However, Duggan really wasn’t great at throwing deep against Michigan, going 4-of-13 for 112 yards on throws over 10 yards.
Against Michigan, Emari Demercado ran for 150 yards on 17 carries, but he was aided by a 69-yard run. Georgia held Ohio State’s running backs to just 79 yards on 18 carries and sits third in the country in EPA/Rush Allowed and Defensive Line Yards.
Another big element of this game is going to be Duggan’s ability to get out of the pocket and run. Ohio State’s CJ Stroud, who is not typically a big runner, had a few big runs against Georgia.
However, when the Dawgs faced LSU’s Jayden Daniels in the SEC Championship, they held him to -6 rushing yards. When they faced Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker, they held him to just 17 yards on 18 carries. So, I’d imagine Kirby Smart will devise a game plan to stop Duggan from beating them with his legs.
TCU ranks 88th in seconds per play at 25.9 for the season, so Sonny Dykes clearly knew he had to pick up the tempo to cause a disruption for Michigan’s defense.
The flip side is Georgia plays at an ultra-slow pace of 28.1 seconds per play, which ranks 116th in the country. The game I keep going back to that’s similar to this situation is the Bulldogs’ matchup against Tennessee. Georgia went up early in that game, and its defense controlled the game, and ultimately, the pace.
Only 10 total points were scored in the second half after Georgia took a 24-6 halftime lead. The same thing could happen here if the Bulldogs pull ahead early.
I only have TCU projected for 21.3 points, so I think there’s a little bit of value on its team total of under 25.5.
Pick: TCU Team Total Under 25.5 (Play to 24.5)
TCU Team Total Under 25.5
I know, I know. Did I not see the collective 179 points scored in the semifinals where each team scored at least 41 points, including the high of 51 scored by TCU?
This is where TCU’s magical run stops, and it’s Georgia’s defense that will get the job done.
The Bulldogs hold a massive advantage at the line of scrimmage — even more so than the one the Wolverines were supposed to have. Georgia ranked second in Line Yards this season, compared to TCU’s offense ranking only 61st.
Star running back Kendre Miller is also questionable for this game. Emari Demercado did well filling in against Michigan, but that’s likely not sustainable for a full game against this deep Georgia defensive line. TCU will also be forced to use its third-string back to provide a breather for Demercado.
Then there’s the passing matchup.
Quentin Johnston is one of the best receivers in the country, but Georgia’s Kelee Ringo is actually a pretty good matchup. Ringo does better against bigger, straight-line speed receivers like Johnston than he does versus quicker, shiftier pass catchers.
He’ll also likely have plenty of help from teammates, as the Bulldogs will make anyone other than Johnston beat them. There’s a big dropoff in production behind the stud receiver, as Johnston has nearly twice as many receptions and receiving yards as any of his teammates.
Georgia allowed 11.3 points per game in the regular season, with no team scoring more than 22 points. LSU scored 30 in the SEC Championship, with the majority of those points coming in garbage time. Ohio State recorded 41 points last week, but the Horned Frogs aren’t nearly as talented across the board as the Buckeyes.
I like the Bulldogs to get up early and slow things down, keeping TCU’s offense off the field as much as possible. It’s been fun watching TCU defy expectations, but it lacks the offensive firepower to get it over the finish line.