Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) looks for a receiver as Florida linebacker Antwaun Powell-Ryland Jr. (52) rushes during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Georgia and TCU Meet in CFP National Championship

The Georgia Bulldogs and TCU Horned Frogs meet Monday in the CFP National Championship.

Georgia advanced to its second straight National Championship with a 42-41 win against Ohio State in the CFP Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.

Meanwhile, TCU became the first Big 12 team to win in the CFP following its 51-45 shootout victory in the CFP Semifinal at the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl against the Michigan Wolverines.

Bulldogs Look to Complete Perfect Season

Georgia has won 28 of its last 29 games dating back to last season and has an opportunity to become the first back-to-back champion since Alabama in 2011 and 2012. The Bulldogs also have the opportunity to be the first team in the CFP era to win consecutive championships.

Quarterback Stetson Bennett led an impressive 18-point fourth quarter to lead Georgia to its semifinal win, and he will hope to replicate his performance against TCU. Bennett ended the day with 398 passing yards and four total touchdowns. He led a strong campaign all season long to help lead the Bulldogs to this point. The Heisman Trophy finalist has scored 31 total touchdowns this year.

The Bulldogs defense, which is typically one of the strongest in the nation, was picked apart by C.J. Stroud and Ohio State. If TCU can replicate the Buckeyes’ offensive production, Georgia could find itself in some trouble. However, Georgia still boasts one of the most talented defensive groups, so a turnaround is not unlikely. On the year, the Georgia defense has allowed just 12.8 points per game, which is second-best in the nation.

The third quarter was trouble for Georgia against Ohio State, with the Bulldogs getting outscored 10-0. That was just the fifth quarter all season long that they failed to score in, and saw the Buckeyes build a 14-point lead. If the Georgia defense plays as it did against Ohio State, the Bulldogs cannot afford to go long periods without scoring, otherwise, the potent TCU offense will make them pay.

Duggan and TCU Looking for Storybook Ending in National Championship

The Horned Frogs enter the National Championship game looking to finish what many would consider a “Cinderella Story.”

After starting the season unranked, quarterback Max Duggan led TCU to an undefeated regular season and was on the verge of the program’s first conference championship since 2014. Despite the Big 12 Championship loss, the Horned Frogs earned a CFP berth and upset Michigan to advance to the National Championship. He has over 3,500 passing yards and 40 total touchdowns over the course of this season, leading him to New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist.

TCU had very few issues offensively against a strong Michigan defense, although Duggan completed less than 50% of his passes for the first time this season. The Georgia defense will not be any easier for the Horned Frogs to deal with, so all of TCU’s offensive stars will need to show out against the Bulldogs.

Quentin Johnston put on a show, much as he had throughout most of the year. He has now put up back-to-back 100-yard receiving performances, including a long touchdown to reclaim momentum in the semifinal. The 6′ 4″ junior is one of Duggan’s favorite targets but will need to put together one of his better performances if he hopes to propel TCU to a National Championship victory.

CFP National Championship Deciding Factors

Both teams have obviously put together impressive performances time and time again throughout the season to get to this point. So what decides Monday’s National Championship?

For Georgia, it has to be on defense. The Bulldogs had only given up 41 or more points once in the previous 31 games heading into the semifinal against Ohio State. Georgia needed a late-game miracle to advance, but it’s unlikely they’ll get that miracle a second time. If the defense can hunker down and limit the TCU offense then there will be significantly less pressure on Bennett and the offense.

As for the Horned Frogs, aside from the obvious of having to score against the tough Georgia defense, a major key of the game is also the TCU defense. Two interceptions returned for touchdowns and two goal-line stops completely altered the game. TCU is not playing on Monday if not for a slew of massive plays by the Horned Frogs’ defense. Namely, Jim Thorpe Trophy winner Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, who was relatively quiet against Michigan, needs to step up and force Bennett into some mistakes.

In a game featuring two Heisman Trophy finalists and a lot of talent on offense, it will likely come down to which defense stands strongest and forces the opposing quarterback into tough situations.

It All Comes Down to Monday

Will the final chapter of TCU’s fairy tale story be written or will Stetson Bennett eternalize his name in Georgia football lore?

It all comes down to Monday.

Georgia and TCU kick off in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T from SoFi Stadium on Monday at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN.

About Matt Quartararo

Matt is a fourth-year journalism major specializing in sports media and is also completing a sports management certificate. Starting in the Fall 2023 semester, Matt has served as a sports coordinator with WRUF. He also participates in sports broadcasting, providing play-by-play for a variety of Gators sports.

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