The College Football Playoff finally delivered on its promise of a great semifinal doubleheader; both games came down to the final drive.
Michigan made a lot of early mistakes, including two interceptions by J.J. McCarthy returned for touchdowns by the TCU defense. The Wolverines battled back throughout, which is a credit to McCarthy’s poise, but every time they got momentum, the Horned Frogs snatched it right back.
Ohio State missed a last second field goal to win the Peach Bowl, so Georgia escaped and will face the underdog TCU on Monday. The Bulldogs’ defense didn’t look like their invincible selves against C.J. Stroud, Marvin Harrison Jr. and the Buckeyes, and some fans maintain that Ohio State would’ve won if Harrison was healthy throughout. So even though TCU is a double-digit underdog, they may still have a path to victory against this vaunted Georgia squad looking for their second straight title.
Note: All college football odds are from FanDuel Sportsbook. Lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. All ratings are out of five stars. Please check numberFire's model to make sure you're seeing the most updated information.
TCU Horned Frogs vs. Georgia Bulldogs
TCU +12.5: 2 Stars
Georgia is a massive favorite in this game because of a dominant defense and an offense that’s good enough to get the job done against most opponents. The Bulldogs are loaded with NFL prospects like defensive tackle Jalen Carter and cornerback Kelee Ringo despite losing five players to the first round of last year’s draft. That’s incredible, especially when you consider that Nakobe Dean, the 2021 Butkus Award winner and arguably the team’s MVP on defense last season, isn’t included in those five.
TCU has the fifth-ranked offense per ESPN’s SP+ behind Heisman runner-up Max Duggan and a top NFL wide receiver prospect in Quentin Johnston. Duggan and Johnston might be the key to a TCU victory, particularly after shredding Michigan’s defense for 163 yards and a touchdown.
One area where the Frogs were underrated prior to the Fiesta Bowl was their offensive line’s run blocking. Kendre Miller racked up only 57 yards before leaving the game with an injury and Emari Demercado came in seamlessly and put up another 150 yards against the Wolverines’ elite rushing defense. That’s a testament to the running back depth but also to a strong offensive line that was overshadowed in the media by Michigan’s line that had just won its second consecutive Joe Moore Award.
Ultimately, Georgia probably wins this game to become the first team since Alabama 10 years ago to win consecutive titles.
The Bulldogs are on another level in recruiting. They’re second in the 247 Team Talent Composite rankings, while TCU sits at 32nd. However, TCU bridged the gap via the transfer portal, where they landed All-Big 12 players like offensive lineman Alan Ali and cornerback Josh Newton.
Since the talent gap might not be as large as it appears, the Horned Frogs may have a chance to shock the world and win the title. Our model projects a 21.5% win probability for TCU but a 59.0% probability of covering the spread. It’s unlikely for the Frogs to pull it off, but bet on them making this one interesting.