In national championship college football game, all signs point to Georgia, but Ken Schreiber is going with his heart
No. 1 Georgia (14-0), the only undefeated team in the FBS, is a 13.5-point favorite over No. 3 TCU (13-1). As we preview the game, let's first take a look at the numbers. TCU has 10,523 undergraduate students while Georgia has 37,606. The average SAT score at TCU is between 1,250 and 1,300 while Georgia is 1,086. The average GPA for TCU's freshman class was 3.64 while Georgia's was around 3.6. So these numbers show the likelihood of a very competitive game. While these numbers may be of interest, they are, of course, completely irrelevant here.
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The real numbers show Georgia is the dominant team. It has the No. 1 defense in the country, allowing 14.7 points per game and scoring 40 ppg.
While TCU scores at a similar 40-point clip, it allows an average of 27, which ranks them at No. 82 in the FBS. A huge difference. Georgia is trying to become the first team to repeat as national champion since 2011 (Alabama) while TCU is trying to win its first since 1938.
The Dawgs are getting healthy with stud wide receiver Adonai Mitchell back at full speed to add to all-everything tight end Brock Bowers and receiver Ladd McConkey to make up arguably the best receiving corps in the country. They also have talented running back Kenny McIntosh (5.5 yards per carry) as well as their Heisman finalist, quarterback Stetson Bennett (3,856 yards, 68% completion rate). So they have a plethora of weapons at all the skilled positions.
Defensively, tackle Jalen Carter, might be the best player on the field and possibly the first player selected in the 2023 NFL draft. But there's also NFL talent at almost every position, including safety Chris Smith, cornerback Kelee Ringo and lineman Mykel Willams.
The Horned Frogs have their own Heisman finalist in quarterback Max Duggan (3,542 passing yards), who must play well to have any chance. They also a talented running back in Kendre Miller (1,399 yards) and a go-to wide receiver in 6-foot-4-inch Quentin Johnston (59 catches, 1,076 yards). Defensively, they are led by Navy transfer linebacker Johnny Hodges, who led the team in tackles (76). They have their own bookend talented cornerbacks in Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson and Josh Newton. Hodges-Tomlinson and Newton were both selected First-Team All-Big 12.
So, you would think there's talent on both sides and this should be a competitive game. After all, didn't last week prove TCU could play with anybody after defeating No. 2 Michigan, 51-45? And didn’t Georgia survive against No. 4 Ohio State, 42-41, only after a missed field goal?
Unfortunately, all that is a facade. Georgia literally is in a different league than TCU and I'm not talking about the SEC vs. the Big 12. Georgia’s recruiting budget is the highest in the country, a roster filled with four- and five-star players. TCU relies on transfers and players most blue bloods ignore. Georgia is a well-oiled machine that simply reloads each year with superior talent to compete for a national championship on an annual basis. Last year, after winning the national championship, they lost 15 players to the NFL and here they are again. Finally, they also have championship pedigree, coming back from a 14-point deficit last week to defeat the Buckeyes.
TCU was picked seventh in their 10-team league. New head coach Sonny Dykes turned a 5-7 team into a 12-1 regular-season champion. But the speed and physicality that Georgia brings on both sides of the ball are something the Horned Frogs have never experienced. Even after scoring touchdowns with two pick-sixes against Michigan, the Horned Frogs were playing on fumes when the clock struck zero.
The talent disparity between the teams is significant. It says here that many TCU starters wouldn't even get on the field if they played for Georgia. The two-touchdown spread is the largest in CFP history, but it should be at least three touchdowns. There's just nothing here that would give any indication that the Horned Frogs have a chance for a victory.
So, how does TCU compete? There's only one way — by taking risks both offensively and defensively. They cannot think Georgia will beat themselves like Michigan. They need to play with a certain swagger, think out of the box. Not just being creative but actually playing the game unconventionally. I'm talking about trick plays, blitzing consistently and, yes, play with a sense of desperation from the get-go.
Georgia is the prohibitive favorite but if the Horned Frogs can stay in the game early, they will gain confidence. It is incumbent on TCU to force the Dawgs into mistakes while avoiding them at all costs. The Dawgs will score but TCU must win the turnover battle and, even then, will that be enough? For all those reasons, just don't see this game staying remotely competitive. At least that's what it says on paper. Dawgs should role!
Which is exactly why I'll be traveling 3,000 miles to see the biggest upset since the New York Jets, 19.5-point underdogs, defeated the Baltimore Colts, 16-7, in Super Bowl III in January 1969! Jets quarterback Joe Namath permanently carved his name on Mount Rushmore with his “guarantee” of victory. That game was in the “old” Orange Bowl while this one is at new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.
As a journalist, I would never go so far as to guarantee anything, especially in this scenario. That’s why this preview reflects an honest and transparent analysis of Georgia‘s superiority. But the elements you can’t evaluate are the intangibles. Just like the AFL needed a Jets win to change the perception of professional football, college football needs a TCU victory to reverse the perception that the “little guy” has no chance.
I’m supposed to be impartial but I'm going with my heart here and not my head. After all, with no skin in the game, I can disguise my rooting interest.
Let's hope the trip is worthwhile. Remember you didn't just hear it here first, you heard it here only, period!
TCU, in a miracle finish, shocks the college football world!
Oops, supposed to be neutral.
This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: In national title football game, all signs point to a Georgia victory, but ...