At first glance, the CFP National Championship looks like David vs. Goliath. Max Duggan and the Horned Frogs of TCU (13-1) were not even ranked at the start of the season but now are on the sport's biggest stage seeking their first national title since 1938 while Stetson Bennett and the Georgia Bulldogs (14-0) are looking to repeat as national champions.
Sonny Dykes and TCU earned their spot in the title game with a 51-45 win over John Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines 51-45 in the Fiesta Bowl.
Our College Football staff at NBC Sports offer insight on the CFP National Championship as they have each of this season's bowl games. They offer their favorite plays on everything from sides and totals to player props. The group includes Eric Froton (@CFFroton), Vaughn Dalzell (@VMoneySports), Brad Thomas (@MrBradThomas) and Zachary Krueger (@ZK_FFB). Tail (or fade) as you see fit.
CFP National Championship
Georgia Bulldogs (-12.5) vs. TCU Horned Frogs (Over/Under 63)
Kickoff: January 9 at 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Site: SoFi Stadium – Inglewood, CA
Bowl Histories: Georgia 35-21-3, TCU 17-16-1
Series History: The Georgia Bulldogs are a perfect 4-0 against the Horned Frogs of TCU. This is their first meeting since the Liberty Bowl in 2016.
Note: Uga X, Georgia's mascot, will miss the UGA-TCU showdown because of distance. The flight is too far for the nine-year-old dog. Instead, the bulldog will be watching the game on TV.
Vaughn Dalzell: Stetson Bennett OVER 272.5 Passing Yards (-114)
Last College Football playoffs, Bennett tossed 313 yards on Michigan and 224 yards on Alabama and this being his second National Title and with a year of experience, I expect he airs it out more this National Title game and puts his name in the hat for the MVP of this game.
In Stetson Bennett's 5 biggest games this season, he has balled out and gone Over this number four times:
- Threw for 398 yards vs. Ohio State (12/31)
- Threw for 368 yards vs. Oregon (9/3)
- Threw for 316 yards vs. Florida (10/29)
- Threw for 274 yards vs. LSU (12/3)
- Threw for 257 yards vs. Tennessee (11/5)
TCU's defense allowed Michigan to post 45 points and J.J. McCarthy recorded 343 yards. McCarthy along with Spencer Sanders are the two best quarterbacks that the Horned Frogs have faced all season. Now, TCU sees Stetson Bennett and the reigning champion Georgia Bulldogs in the biggest game of their lives. Give me the Over 272.5 Passing Yards for Bennett as I expect 300-plus yards.
Brad Thomas: Georgia Team Total OVER 37.5
TCU has a chance to do something that has not been done since 1990; be an unranked team to start the season and win the National Championship. With the explosiveness of their offense, I think they can keep this one close. One thing is for sure; their weakness is their defense. They are 51st in defensive success rate and 47th in defensive net points per drive. They are also 45th in defensive touchdown rate allowing touchdowns on 25% of their opponent's drives. This Georgia offense, led by Stetson Bennett, is well-rounded. They run the ball well, and Bennett, a Heisman finalist, has shown great poise and leadership. Georgia, ranked eighth in offensive net points per drive, scored 38 or more on nine occasions, with one of the misses landing exactly on 37. There will be points in this game. If either team fails to keep up, they will get left behind.
Eric Froton: Adonai Mitchell, WR, Georgia - OVER 36.5 Receiving Yards
Despite being a run-of-the-mill three-star recruit on Georgia's talent-laden roster, Mitchell (6'4/190) started 12 games as a true freshman for the dominant 2021 Georgia team that won the National Championship. He crossed the 36.5 yards threshold eight times last year and was widely reported to be UGA's WR1 entering the season based on a terrific offseason.
Accordingly, Mitchell secured four-of-five targets for 65 yards and a touchdown in Georgia's evisceration of Oregon in Week 1 while serving as the primary outside receiving threat. Unfortunately, Mitchell got hurt in Week 2 against FCS program Samford and barely saw the field for the rest of the regular season until logging 13 pass snaps in the SEC Championship game versus LSU.
In Georgia's thrilling comeback victory over Ohio State Mitchell ran 29 pass routes, which was the most of any WR on the team, while drawing a team-high six targets while catching three passes for 43 yards and a touchdown. With Mitchell finally healthy and leading the receiving group in reps, I am strongly backing his Over 36.5 Receiving Yards.
Zachary Kruger: Game Total UNDER 63
An unprecedented run by TCU that began in the regular season ends with a matchup against the defending champs. The Horned Frogs shocked the nation (or at least me) with their 51-45 win over Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl, which was aided by not one but two pick-sixes of Wolverines' quarterback J.J. McCarthy. Michigan outscored TCU 39-30 in the second half, but simply ran out of time to complete the comeback.
Now, Max Duggan and company will look to run the table with a win over Georgia. It is probably safe to assume TCU will not return a couple interceptions to the house again on Monday night, but can they find ways to slow down Georgia enough to at least keep this close?
The Bulldogs have allowed the fifth-fewest yards per game (304.6) and points per game (14.8) while outscoring opponents by an average of 24.6 points per game. I incorrectly thought Michigan would end TCU's run with a dominant win, but that pick fell a bit short.
I am once again tempted to bet against TCU, only this time they are lining up against the powerhouse of the SEC. The Bulldogs look like the overwhelming favorites on paper. On offense they rank in the top 10 in yards (494.9) and points per game (39.4). While a Georgia blowout feels possible, a 12.5-point spread feels disrespectful to the Horned Frogs after what we saw last week. I will take the Frogs at +12.5 here, and I also like the under at 62.5. The Over is a combined 13-13 between these two teams this season.