Georgia vs. TCU prediction, pick, line, spread, odds for 2023 college football national championship game The Horned Frogs and Bulldogs will meet in what some consider a David vs. Goliath battle on Monday night The time has almost arrived for the College Football Playoff National Championship as No. 1 Georgia will meet No. 3 TCU at SoFi Stadium on Monday.
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The Bulldogs are coming off of a 42-41 win over No. 4 Ohio State in the Peach Bowl semifinal, while the Horned Frogs are still surging after stunning No. 2 Michigan 51-45 in the Fiesta Bowl semifinal.
Georgia is looking to become the first repeat national champions of the CFP era and the first since Alabama accomplished the feat in 2011-12. Led by Heisman Trophy finalist Stetson Bennett IV at quarterback, the Dawgs have evolved into one of the most balanced and efficient offenses in the country. The Frogs sent a player to New York as a Heisman finalist as well. Max Duggan, who didn't even start the season as TCU's No. 1 signal-caller, has emerged into one of the most dynamic players in the country.
What should you expect in Los Angeles on Monday night? Let's break down the game and make picks straight up and against the spread.
Georgia vs. TCU: Need to know
Bulldogs have evolved outside: Heading into the playoff, Georgia's list of top pass catchers was incredibly bizarre. Its leading receiver was a tight end (Brock Bowers) with a wide receiver (Ladd McConkey) and running back (Kenny McIntosh) filling out the top three. Things became apparent in the Peach Bowl that Bennett has more weapons outside than initially thought.
Adonai Mitchell, who had been hurt for the majority of the season, had the game-winning touchdown and 43 yards receiving, Arian Smith had 129 yards and a critical fourth-quarter score, and Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint had two critical catches. It's enormous that all of these receivers stepped up especially considering McConkey isn't 100% after suffering a knee injury last month and the status of monster tight end Darnell Washington is up in the air.
"We've had a musical chairs, and most people do because people have injuries at wide receiver positions but between AD, Marcus, there's been a lot there," coach Kirby Smart said this week. And I think [WR coach] Bryan McClendon and [offensive coordinator Todd] Monken have done a tremendous job of slicing and dicing those roles."
TCU's running back watch: Star rusher Kendre Miller, who has rumbled for 1,399 yards and 17 touchdowns this season, left the Fiesta Bowl with a knee injury. His status for the title game is still a mystery. If he can't go, senior Emari Demercado will likely get the first-team reps. Demercado rushed for 125 yards on 14 carries and ripped off a critical 69-yarder in the third quarter. Louisiana transfer Emani Bailey had 29 carries, 241 yards rushing and two touchdowns this season, and he will likely serve as the primary backup. Bailey posted 642 yards and eight touchdowns last season with the Ragin' Cajuns.
"I think he's feeling pretty good," coach Sonny Dykes said of Miller. "We got a pretty good (evaluation) on him the night before last when we got back from Phoenix. He was pretty sore. Woke up yesterday, felt a little bit better. I just saw him a little bit ago. He's feeling better today. So I would say he's probably questionable, would be the way I would present it. We'll see how he progresses through the week, see how he feels, and we'll try to make a determination as we get closer to game time whether we think he's going to be ready to play or not."
Battle for big plays: Wide receiver Quinten Johnston has been the go-to pass catcher for Duggan all season, and he will have a very interesting matchup Monday night against an ultra-talented Dawgs secondary.
"We're just starting to get into them today but their size on the outside stands out a lot," Georgia defensive back Javon Bullard said this week. "We know they've got some very large receivers, big catch radiuses and they can run. Anytime you have that size on the perimeter, whether it's quick game or deep balls, it's always a great matchup."
However, that secondary got torched by Ohio State's passing game and, in particular, star wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. That came one game after LSU put up 502 yards passing in the SEC Championship Game.
The Bulldogs lost a ton of defensive talent from that 2021 national title team and simply reloaded. Last year’s team allowed a staggering 10 points per game and had Travon Walker, Jordan Davis, Quay Walker, Devonte Wyatt and Lewis Cine all taken in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft.
In their absence in 2022, Smael Mondon Jr. became the team’s leading tackler. Malaki Starks emerged as a stellar defensive back and Jason Dumas-Johnson took a huge leap at linebacker. Oh, Georgia could also have the No. 1 pick of the 2023 NFL draft on its defensive line too. Interior lineman Jalen Carter has seven tackles for loss and three sacks in 12 games and can be college football’s most disruptive interior force.
The offense lost players like running backs Zamir White and James Cook and receivers Jermaine Burton and George Pickens. But the unit returned a lot of production and was immediately explosive in a 49-3 win over Oregon to start the season.
"Ohio State made some big plays against them," Dykes said. "And I'm sure particularly in the passing game. And I'm sure they're going to work to get some of those issues addressed. And, quite frankly, they just made some contested plays, and Ohio State's got a really good group of wide receivers. And those guys really played well."
The chess match between the Frogs' receivers and Dawgs' secondary could determine the outcome of the title game.
How to watch Georgia vs. TCU live
Game: College Football Playoff National Championship
Date: Monday, Jan. 9 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: SoFi Stadium -- Inglewood, Calif.
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
California, CA 95608
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