CFP Finals: Georgia vs. TCU

TCU quarterback Max Duggan has a 32/6 touchdown-to-interception ratio in his team's 14 games this year.

No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs vs. No. 3 TCU Horned Frogs

Line: Georgia -12.5

Total: 63

Where: SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, California

When: Monday, 1/9 at 7:30 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN

Two magical storylines will collide on Monday night in the College Football Playoff title game when No. 1 Georgia faces No. 3 TCU at SoFi Stadium.

For the Horned Frogs, a win would mark their first national title since 1938—they booked their spot in the championship with an upset over No. 2 Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl. Georgia clinched its spot by taking down Ohio State in a 42-41 thriller in the Peach Bowl, giving the Bulldogs a shot at becoming the first team to win back-to-back national titles in more than a decade.

Georgia opened as a 13.5-point favorite for Monday’s title game, but the early betting action on TCU has pushed the line down to -12.5. The Horned Frogs sprung the biggest upset in CFP history with their win as 8-point underdogs against Michigan, and they are now being spotted 12.5 points for the third time since 2019. They failed to cover the spread in all three of their games as double-digit underdogs last season.

Monday night’s total opened at 62 and has been bet up slightly to 62.5 as of Thursday afternoon. The Bulldogs have scored at least 40 points in six of their last nine games, going ‘over’ the total at a 6-3 clip during that span as well.

Their defense has been the primary storyline during their incredible two-year run, but their offense has taken over of late. Quarterback Stetson Bennett threw for 398 yards to lead his team back from a 14-point deficit in the 42-41 win over Ohio State. The Bulldogs, who have cashed the ‘over’ in four of their last five games, had five players score touchdowns in the semifinals.

They did lose starting tight end Darnell Washington to an ankle injury in the Peach Bowl, though, and his status is up in the air for Monday’s game. He had 417 receiving yards and two touchdowns during the regular season, while also playing a pivotal role as a blocker in the two-tight end scheme.

Brock Bowers gets most of the recognition after racking up 790 receiving yards and six touchdowns this season, while wide receiver Ladd McConkey enters this game with 674 receiving yards and five scores. McConkey saw limited snaps against Ohio State due to a knee injury, getting held to just one catch, but running backs Kenny McIntosh and Daijun Edwards combined for nearly 130 rushing yards.

TCU pulled off an upset against Michigan by rushing for 263 yards, with Emari Demercado accounting for 150 of those, which was more than double what he posted in any game this season. Star running back Kendre Miller left the game in the first half with a knee injury and is ‘questionable’ to play on Monday.

Heisman Trophy runner-up quarterback Max Duggan accounted for four of TCU’s touchdowns in the win over Michigan, throwing for two and running for two more. He also threw two interceptions and completed less than 50% of his passes, though.

The Horned Frogs have covered the spread in six of their last eight games, while the Bulldogs have gone 1-3 ATS in its last four games. TCU has gone ‘under’ the total in four of its last six contests after going ‘over’ in six of its first eight games.

The pick: Georgia -12.5

TCU has been the most inspirational story in college football this season, but the Horned Frogs aren’t going to be able to overcome the talent disparity on Monday night. Their last five recruiting classes have all ranked outside the top 20 nationally, while Georgia has ranked no worse than No. 4 during that five-year period. TCU’s only path to staying in this game involves Duggan playing a perfect game, because Georgia is going to be putting immense pressure on him early and often. The Bulldogs’ secondary has been exposed of late, but their front seven is going to do too much damage for that to matter in this game. They are also going to be moving the sticks with ease due to their advantage up front along the offensive line. TCU needs some major breaks to go its way in this game, but I just don’t see that happening against the experienced defending champs, especially if Miller is unable to play.

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