College Football Playoff National Championship

Admit it, you did not suppose they’d do it.

Not TCU, the group seemingly everybody exterior of Fort Value, Texas, has been predicting to lose week after week. Oh positive, the College Football Playoff Semifinal on the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl was going to be a superb sport, however TCU truly win?! Nah. Michigan was gonna roll.

As an alternative, it rolled over.

Few if any gave No. 3 TCU a lot of a shot to be right here, and which may have been motivation sufficient for the Frogs to advance to the CFP nationwide championship sport, the place they’ll face defending nationwide champion and No. 1 Georgia on Jan. 9 at SoFi Stadium. Following a outstanding comeback towards No. 4 Ohio State within the CFP Semifinal on the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Georgia can turn out to be the primary program to win back-to-back nationwide titles since Alabama in 2011-2012. Since 1990, the one different colleges to win back-to-back nationwide titles are Nebraska (1994-95) and USC (2003-04). With Georgia’s win on Saturday, this system matched 2015-16 Alabama for probably the most wins over a two-season span in SEC historical past with 28.

There is no query it’ll be a monumental problem for TCU, which went 5-7 a yr in the past and did not win its convention title sport this yr, however insurmountable? This group of underdogs that was picked to complete seventh within the Massive 12 is used to the doubts.

All season lengthy — proper up till the clock expired on the Fiesta Bowl — TCU has exceeded expectations. Positive, the beloved Frogs have captured the nation’s consideration, using the psychedelic wave of one thing referred to as a Hypnotoad. Honest respect has been just a little harder to return by. If back-to-back wins towards Michigan and Georgia do not do it, nothing will.

Whereas Georgia is within the midst of constructing the game’s subsequent dynasty, TCU is attempting to win this system’s first nationwide title in 83 years. TCU has a possibility to turn out to be the primary group to be unranked within the preseason AP ballot and win the nationwide title since Georgia Tech in 1990.

Not that anybody exterior of Fort Value will likely be giving the Frogs a lot of an opportunity to truly do it.

No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 3 TCU

CFP National Championship Introduced by AT&T

When: Monday, Jan. 9 at 7:30 p.m. ET
The place: SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, California
Methods to watch: ESPN and ESPN App
Opening line from Caesars Sportsbook: Georgia (-13)

Leap to:
Coaches | Paths to the championship
Key gamers | X elements

The coaches

play

1:26

Sonny Dykes discusses why the gamers believing one another performed an enormous consider TCU’s 51-45 win over Michigan.

TCU’s Sonny Dykes: Identified for his down-to-earth, unassuming persona, Dykes has catapulted TCU into the brightest of lights, elevating a group that wasn’t ranked this preseason to the nationwide championship sport. He labored magic, navigating the Horned Frogs via nail-biters and comebacks all season, however on Saturday night when it mattered probably the most, TCU had the higher hand for all 4 quarters. Dykes, who turned the primary head soccer coach in TCU and Massive 12 historical past to begin 12-0 in his first season, assembled a employees that outcoached Michigan’s sideline for many of the sport. It is his second stint with the Frogs, as Dykes was an offensive analyst on the 2017 TCU group that went 11-3 and performed for the Massive 12 title. The son of legendary Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes was employed at TCU after 4 seasons at SMU, the place he led the Mustangs to a few straight profitable seasons for the primary time because the mid-’80s and their first back-to-back wins over TCU since 1992-93. If you cannot beat him, rent him.

Georgia’s Kirby Good: In seven seasons, Good has positioned Georgia to turn out to be the following Alabama — if it is not already. Good, now 3-0 in CFP semifinals, received his eightieth sport on Saturday, highlighting a résumé that features 5 SEC East titles and two SEC championships. No win was greater than final yr’s towards Alabama, which earned this system its first nationwide title in 41 years and really started to tilt the stability of energy within the SEC. Good, who spent 9 seasons as Alabama coach Nick Saban’s defensive coordinator earlier than he was employed at Georgia, took Saban’s championship blueprint with him to Athens. He has developed the tradition, lured in this system’s seventh top-three signing class and put this system in place to win all of it — once more.


How they obtained right here

TCU: The Horned Frogs have been picked to complete seventh — seventh! — within the Massive 12. As an alternative, the Frogs turned the primary Massive 12 group since 2009 to finish the common season with a 12-0 document, nevertheless it hardly ever got here simply. The Horned Frogs repeatedly flirted with catastrophe, profitable 5 video games this season when trailing after halftime, however ended the common season with perfection. Regardless of a heroic effort from quarterback Max Duggan, TCU misplaced to Kansas State 31-28 in time beyond regulation within the Massive 12 championship sport. The Frogs could not have picked a greater solution to lose, although — an in depth sport to a ranked opponent that they had defeated through the common season. TCU was nonetheless in a position to boast a win towards the Massive 12 champions, an necessary declare to impress the choice committee and keep its No. 3 rating and not using a convention title. Dykes has elevated the Frogs’ offense to one of many nation’s finest, and Duggan has emerged as one of the crucial prolific deep ball passers with an FBS-leading 13 completions of at the least 50 yards.

Final nationwide title: 1938

Georgia: After profitable this system’s first nationwide title because the 1980 season, questions instantly surfaced if Georgia may do it once more — this time with out 5 first-round NFL draft picks who left the protection. Effectively, right here the Bulldogs are once more, one step away. It started within the season opener with a whole dismantling of Oregon in a 49-3 win that continued to resonate via Choice Day. When the Bulldogs defeated then-No. 1 Tennessee on Nov. 5, they established themselves because the clear-cut No. 1 group within the eyes of the choice committee and by no means gave anybody a purpose to doubt it. With a commanding 50-30 win over LSU within the SEC championship sport, Georgia cemented its place within the CFP once more thanks to a different stellar protection and the management of quarterback Stetson Bennett. The protection entered the semifinal permitting the second-fewest factors per sport within the FBS.

Final nationwide title: 2021


Key gamers

play

1:27

Stetson Bennett cannot discover the phrases to say after Georgia escapes with a miraculous win over Ohio State.

TCU: QB Max Duggan. He started the season as TCU’s backup quarterback and is heading to the nationwide championship sport because the Heisman runner-up. It is an inconceivable story that mirrors that of the whole group, because the Frogs have been so troublesome to carry down. Duggan, who led the Massive 12 in passing yards and passing touchdowns, has been one of many hardest gamers within the nation to defend due to his sheer will and his mixed means to run and throw the deep ball. His 76-yard landing go to Quentin Johnson on Saturday was the longest reception Michigan allowed since 2019. He entered the sport having thrown simply 4 interceptions all season however threw two towards Michigan.

Georgia: QB Stetson Bennett. His journey from a walk-on in 2017 to final yr’s nationwide championship MVP has been well-documented, however his story is not over. The Heisman Trophy finalist enters his second straight nationwide championship with a 28-3 document as Georgia’s starter and with the sting in postseason expertise towards TCU’s Duggan. Bennett’s poise and confidence has been essential to Georgia’s success, and he has been pushed — not deterred — by the naysayers all through his profession. He has set the varsity document for completions in a season, and he additionally has accounted for seven dashing touchdowns. With little if something left to show, Bennett enters the nationwide championship sport having thrown 21 touchdowns and 7 interceptions this yr.


Matchup to look at: TCU’s offensive line vs. Georgia’s defensive position

If TCU goes to have any likelihood on the upset, it’ll should win this battle to present Duggan time to make performs and to determine its operating sport. Ohio State discovered methods to make massive performs within the passing sport towards Georgia, and TCU actually has the flexibility to try this, however the Frogs cannot turn out to be one-dimensional.

Georgia entered Saturday evening with one of many prime dashing defenses within the nation, holding opponents to 2.9 yards per carry and simply 5 dashing touchdowns.


X elements

TCU WR Quentin Johnston. At 6-foot-4, 215 kilos, Johnston has created matchup issues for defenses and emerged as Duggan’s prime goal with the flexibility to rack up yards after the catch. With one other 163 receiving yards towards Michigan, Johnston enters the nationwide title sport with a team-best 1,066 yards, 59 catches and 6 landing receptions — spectacular numbers regardless of lacking two video games with a high-ankle harm. He has allowed the Frogs to stretch the sector, and a few of his finest performances got here towards the hardest competitors. His clutch landing catch at Kansas gave the Frogs the lead with slightly below 4 minutes to play. The next week, he did it once more in a double-overtime win towards Oklahoma State. Johnston is a first-round NFL draft prospect who might be the primary receiver off the board.

Georgia: DT Jalen Carter: There is a picture from the SEC championship sport that sums up the havoc Carter can wreak on a quarterback — not that LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels will want it to recollect. Within the image, the 6-foot-3, 300-pound defensive sort out is holding Daniels effortlessly in his left arm like a toy, whereas holding up his proper hand, signaling No. 1. That is precisely the place he is likely to be drafted, as Mel Kiper Jr. has Carter projected because the No. 1 total decide. Within the six video games main as much as Saturday evening’s semifinal, Carter accounted for twenty-four tackles, 6.5 TFLs, three sacks and a pair of pressured fumbles.