TCU vs. Georgia Picks, Prediction: Our Writers Debate Correct Spread Bet
Ryan Collinsworth/Action Network.
TCU vs. Georgia
It’s just time to stop.
It’s time to stop believing this TCU team is a joke. That the Horned Frogs were lucky or due for a letdown game. That they didn’t deserve to be as highly-ranked as they are or they were never considered a true National Championship contender.
It’s just time to stop. It’s also time to stop fading them.
First and foremost, the Action Network projection makes Georgia a 10-point favorite, meaning the line is already inflated. Boom, all you need to know.
But there’s plenty of reason to believe TCU can keep up in this game.
Look at what Ohio State did to Georgia. The Buckeyes dropped 41 points and 467 yards of offense on this supposedly unimpeachable defense. The Buckeye weapons torched the Georgia secondary, which has often looked leaky, while CJ Stroud’s mobility was an issue.
You don’t think TCU can’t do all that and more?
Max Duggan was a Heisman finalist. Quentin Johnston is second among all wide receivers in yards per reception. TCU finished the season with a higher pass-blocking grade than Georgia.
Kendre Miller’s status is up in the air, but Emari Demercado averaged 8.8 yards per carry against Michigan with 7.6 yards after contact on 17 totes. The Frogs will be able to run the ball.
The Horned Frogs are the best offense Georgia will have faced this season, and it’s time to stop acting like that’s not a fact. TCU can do everything Ohio State did to keep the Peach Bowl close.
There’s no reason why TCU won’t keep this within two scores. I’m willing to make that bet.
What TCU has done this season has been nothing short of remarkable. It’s an incredibly well-coached team that has earned its spot in the National Championship game with the perfect combination of skill and luck.
I don’t mean luck as negative, but it certainly has taken luck. The Horned Frogs have gone 6-1 in one-score games this season. They played with fire all year and managed to get burned just once.
But this is Georgia. You play with fire against the Bulldogs, and they burn you to the ground. Kirby Smart’s team has lost just one game in the last two years. They have played just one game within single digits three times in the last 29 contests.
When you look at these two rosters, you can argue it’s the biggest talent discrepancy ever in a National Championship game — at least going back as far as I looked before getting bored.
Looking Bud Elliott’s Blue Chip Ratio, a stat that measures the ratio of four- and five-stars that make up a team’s roster. Georgia ranks third in the nation with 77% of its roster made up of four- and five-star talent. TCU sits at just 23%. It’s wildly outclassed in this matchup.
How many players on the Horned Frogs would see playing time on the Bulldogs? Two, maybe three? Quentin Johnston, Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson and maybe Josh Newton are probably it. This is a TCU team that finished the year just 54th in the country in Success Rate on offense and 39th on defense.
The Frogs’ saving grace was their explosiveness, the fifth-best mark in the nation. The only problem is their most explosive player, running back Kendre Miller, is hurt and questionable for this game.
Emari Demercado was good against Michigan, but nearly half his yards came on one run. Now, he faces a Bulldogs defense that ranks fifth in Success Rate against the run and seventh at defending rushing explosiveness.
Breaking big plays is a lot harder when Jalen Carter is waiting at the line of scrimmage, then Jamon Dumas-Johnson and Chris Smith waiting if he doesn’t make the play.
Georgia is one of the best tackling teams in the country. If TCU can’t break tackles and pick up big plays, it struggles to move the ball.
I know it sounds cliché, but Georgia is just bigger, stronger and faster than TCU across the board. The Bulldogs are experienced and know what it takes to win a National Championship. The Horned Frogs have proven they are one of the best teams in the country.
But Georgia is alone at the top. It’ll have no problem pulling away with this one.
McGrath: The Bulldogs may have the edge in blue-chip talent, but I disagree with you on your latter point —— TCU has the edge in experience and execution.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime supernova we’re witnessing from TCU. The Frogs combine an upperclassmen-led roster with three unbelievable coaches in Sonny Dykes, Garrett Riley and Joe Gillespie.
Sure, TCU isn’t Duke basketball, filled with one-and-done five-star recruits. Instead, the Frogs are those Brad Stevens-led Butler teams that are coached to perfection and execute better than anyone.
Those “lucky” moments boiled down to execution in the biggest moments, and TCU did that all year long against the toughest competition in the nation. The Horned Frogs ran the gauntlet in the Big 12 and came out unscathed.
And it’s because they had a full team, not just Miller. Miller is TCU’s most explosive player, but he’s not TCU’s only explosive player.
You don’t think Johnson is explosive?
QUENTIN JOHNSTON OH MY GOODNESS!!!
— PFF College (@PFF_College) January 1, 2023
You don’t think Demercado is explosive?
— 𝗙𝗢𝗟𝗟𝗢𝗪 @𝗙𝗧𝗕𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗱𝟳 (@FTBeard7) December 31, 2022
You don’t think Duggan is explosive?
— Sᴘᴏʀᴛs 24/7 (@Sports_24x7_) December 3, 2022
And last I checked, Georgia is sub-50 nationally in preventing explosive plays. It sounds like a death sentence against TCU, especially when it’s laying 13.5 points and the backdoor is wide open.
Plus, I’m worried about Georgia’s ability to get any pressure on Duggan, who will carve anyone up with his arm and legs once given enough time. Georgia finished the season sub-75 in PFF’s pass rush grades and sub-50 in Havoc Created.
Meanwhile, Duggan sees pressure in his face and does this:
MAX DUGGAN ARE YOU SERIOUS?
TCU with ANOTHER touchdown to take a commanding 20-3 lead in the first half 🐸 pic.twitter.com/ObkYQhsQYW
— ESPN (@espn) December 31, 2022
I don’t know… Georgia’s defense isn’t sounding as scary as you make it seem.
Ianniello: Well first of all, that Butler team lost to the Duke squad loaded with five-stars. Sick analogy.
You think TCU is the more experienced team? Stetson Bennett is, like, 30 years old. I’m pretty sure he has been at Georgia since TCU was still in the Mountain West.
Bennett was a Heisman Trophy finalist himself. In fact, he finished the season with a better passer grade, a better completion percentage and more big-time throws than Duggan.
While the Georgia defense gets all the headlines, I think the offense is actually better. The Bulldogs rank third in country in Success Rate on offense. They average 7.1 yards per play and rank first in Passing Success Rate and 10th in Rushing Success Rate. TCU, meanwhile, ranks 66th and 43rd, respectively.
Sure, the Frogs will likely pick up a couple big plays and put some points on the board, but will they get any stops? Georgia might rank in the 50s at preventing explosiveness, but TCU ranks 99th.
The Horned Frogs have struggled to defend the run all season, ranking 80th in the nation. The Bulldogs have a three-headed monster of Kenny McIntosh, Daijun Edwards and Kendall Milton, and each member of the trip averages over 45 yards per game and 5.4 yards per carry. By rotating the three, they all remain fresh and keep the defense off balance.
On the outside, Georgia saw the return of wideout Adonai Mitchell in the Peach Bowl. He has missed nearly the entire season with an injury suffered in Week 2 and caught a touchdown in his return. He will only continue to shake of the rust. Meanwhile, electric receiver Ladd McConkey has an additional eight days to rest his nagging knee injury.
You said the Horned Frogs are the best offense Georgia has faced all season? That’s just wrong. Ohio State, Tennessee and Oregon all have better offenses. The elite talent on the Buckeyes had success, but the other two combined for 16 points.
This will be the best offense TCU has faced by far, and this defense still allowed over 5.5 yards per play this season (64th in the country). The Horned Frogs rank 103rd in Defensive Finishing Drive, so even if they break two or three big plays, they will be lucky if Georgia punts two or three times.
McGrath: Buddy, Butler covered. Lost by two as seven-point dogs. Do you even know what you’re arguing for? You realize Georgia has to win by two whole touchdowns for this to cash, right? I think that’s a major point in this article that’s missing.
I’m not sure if either team gets a stop. The Peach Bowl featured 10 touchdowns and seven punts.
You’re right that the Georgia offense doesn’t get enough love, and you also almost made my next point for me: Maybe the defense gets too much love.
The Bulldogs finished 23rd in Pass EPA per Play Allowed. The Bulldogs’ pass rush was uninspiring, and their secondary wasn’t all-world. They’re extremely vulnerable to mobile quarterbacks who love working in the short-to-intermediate area.
For example, Jayden Daniels and LSU lit up the Bulldogs for 549 yards and 30 points at 7.6 YPP. Also, CJ Stroud and Ohio State dropped 41 points and 467 yards at 7.1 YPP.
Also, I just described Duggan. The Frogs are going to drop 40 in this game. Do you think the Bulldogs can drop 55? They’ve done so once this season against Vanderbilt.
I don’t know how TCU stops Georgia, but Joe Gillespie’s 3-3-5 did some things against Michigan’s offensive line, and Missouri’s 3-3-5 did some things to Georgia’s offensive line back in Week 5. I think there’s hope.
I bet TCU gets two or three stops while dropping 40 points. That’s more than enough to cover a monster spread.
Also, good for Stetson Bennett! But Georgia has just 12 other seniors on its roster. Meanwhile, TCU has a whopping 31 seniors on the roster. By all other accounts, TCU has the edge in the experience department.
Ianniello: What makes the Horned Frogs defense difficult is their unique 3-3-5 scheme that confuses quarterbacks. Michigan hadn’t seen it all year, and it confused them. Well, Georgia faced the 3-3-5 that Zach Arnett runs at Mississippi State.
Georgia put up 45 points on the Bulldogs’ 3-3-5 defense in November, racking up 289 yards and three touchdowns in the air to go with 179 yards and three scores on the ground.
The best way to attack a 3-3-5 defense is in the middle of the field out of 12 personnel. This defensive scheme is most vulnerable with two tight ends on the field. No team in the country has two tight ends better than the Dawgs.
Against Mississippi State, Brock Bowers and Darnell Washington both scored a touchdown, and they combined for 10 catches and 101 yards. Washington left the Ohio State game early and is questionable, but Smart said his ankle isn’t as bad as initially thought and he has a better chance to play on Monday.
Washington is an alien, and I’m not convinced he is a real human. I would bet on his healing faster than us mortals and he will be out there. These two tight ends are a nightmare matchup for all teams, but especially the Frogs’ 3-3-5 scheme.
I don’t think TCU is putting up 40 in this game. Or even close to it. Ohio State managed 41 points with multiple NFL wide receivers (TCU has one) and a quarterback who’s likely a top-10 pick. They are loaded with five-star talent capable of running with the Dawgs. LSU managed 30 points, mostly in garbage time after getting blown out early.
Other than that, no team has scored more than 22 points on Georgia all season. These aren’t Big 12 defenses that TCU is facing. This is the Georgia Bulldogs.
McGrath: Bet TCU +12.5
This needs to be reiterated… It’s time to stop fading the Horned Frogs.
TCU has played up to the competition all season and has done nothing but execute the biggest plays in the biggest moments. The Frogs are 9-3-1 ATS overall and 2-1 ATS as an underdog, losing only the Big 12 Championship game after a wild nine-game stretch of big-time games.
TCU has overcome every obstacle in its path. Overcoming a two-touchdown spread in the National Championship game shouldn’t be an issue.
TCU can drop points on the Georgia defense. The TCU defense can do enough to prevent Georgai from scoring 70 points. The Frogs are going to go punch-for-punch with the Dawgs.
The College Football Playoff finally delivered with two unbelievable semifinal games. That trend won’t stop in the National Championship, and you shouldn’t expect a blowout.
Put your money on the Frogs to keep this game close. I bet the number falls close to 10, which is exactly our Action Network projection, by the way.
Ianniello: Bet Georgia -12.5
I’m not saying TCU doesn’t deserve to be in this game. It does. What the Frogs have done all season has been remarkable.
But let’s be honest, Michigan averaged seven yards per play and outgained TCU. The Wolverines called an idiotic trick play in the red zone, fumbled at the one-yard line and threw two pick-sixes. If JJ McCarthy doesn’t throw up on himself, the Frogs lose that game.
This game comes down to the magical voodoo powers of the hypnotoad, against the elite talent and skill of Bulldogs.
I have loved betting on TCU all season, and it’s an awesome team. We are all hoping it somehow pulls off this upset. But bet with your head, not your heart. Lay the points with Georgia.