3 Keys for TCU to Upset Georgia in the 2023 CFP National Championship Game: Run, Press and Punt

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Head coach Sonny Dykes of the TCU Horned Frogs waits to take the field before the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl against the Michigan Wolverines at State Farm Stadium on December 31, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. The Horned Frogs defeated the Wolverines 51-45. Chris Coduto/Getty Images/AFP

The Pick: TCU +12.5

There’s no question that the No. 3 TCU Horned Frogs (12-1 SU, 9-3-1 ATS) are live dogs for Monday’s National Championship matchup with the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs (13-0 SU, 7-6 ATS).

We’ve already seen the Frogs upset the No. 2 Michigan Wolverines at the Fiesta Bowl, winning 51-45 as 9-point puppies. Why not do the same to Georgia at +12.5 on the NCAAF odds board at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)?

Early (and presumably sharp) bettors seem content to bag TCU at this price. The consensus reports at press time show 79% support for the underdogs—against the spread, that is. Switch your college football picks to the moneyline, and it’s the defending champs pulling in 90% support as -420 favorites at Bookmaker (visit our Bookmaker Review). Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Why the discrepancy? You’re getting the same betting value on either team with either line; Wizard of Odds says -420 (deep inhale) falls somewhere between -12 and -12.5 for an equivalent spread. Is it just because people betting the moneyline are thinking about victory, not value?

Not that TCU is necessarily the right college football pick at +330. But they definitely have the tools to upset Georgia and claim their first National Championship this Monday. Here’s how. 

TCU Horned Frogs vs. Georgia Bulldogs 

Monday, January 9, 2023 – 07:30 PM EST at SoFi Stadium 

Run the Damn Ball 

Remember how we’ve been saying all year that Georgia has the best defense in the country? They don’t anymore after that 42-41 win over the No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes (+4.5) at the Peach Bowl. The fine folks at Football Outsiders now have the Bulldogs' defense ranked second on their F+ efficiency charts, behind the stingy Iowa Hawkeyes.

C.J. Stroud nearly had this one in the bag. The Buckeyes QB ate four sacks, but he didn’t turn the ball over, throwing four touchdown passes on an efficient 23-for-34 passing. And while Stroud’s 12 scrambles didn’t amount to much, Ohio State rushed for a total of 119 yards on 32 carries to give their air attack some breathing room.

TCU can do that in spades. Max Duggan isn’t quite the same dual threat as Stroud, but he’s nimble on his feet, and the Frogs have a pair of stud tailbacks in Kendre Miller (6.2 yards per carry) and Emari Demercado (5.8 yards per carry) who are capable of attacking Georgia’s defense at its weakest points. We’re assuming Miller sheds his questionable tag and plays, of course.

And yes, Georgia’s defense does have some weak points. Dig a little deeper into their line stats, and you’ll see the Bulldogs rank No. 34 in stuff rate, meaning they’re having issues in short-yardage situations. Combine that with Georgia’s low sack rate (No. 94 overall), and TCU should be able to move the chains on the ground if Duggan can do his part on passing downs. 

Break Through the Line 

Getting any traction against Georgia’s offensive line will be a chore, but the Bulldogs might be a bit more vulnerable than usual without one of their best blockers: TE Darnell Washington, who remains questionable for the National Championship game with a strained ankle. 

Washington is Georgia’s No. 2 tight end to Brock Bowers, the John Mackey Award winner who leads the Bulldogs with 56 catches, 790 yards, and six touchdowns through the air. However, Washington is the better of the two when it comes to blocking—enough to make him a potential first-round pick at the 2023 NFL Draft.

The Frogs head into Inglewood ranked No. 27 on the defensive F+ charts, with specific areas of concern on their frontline, but those concerns will be alleviated somewhat if Washington either misses Monday’s game or plays with limited mobility. 

Kick It to Win It 

If there’s one part of the game that TCU does better than Georgia, it’s on special teams, where the Frogs rate No. 13 according to Fremeau Efficiency Index and the Bulldogs No. 57. Special teams aren’t as important as offense and defense, but they’re important nonetheless, and they could be the tipping point for TCU this Monday. 

This isn’t something you can “game plan” in quite the same way as offense vs. defense, as far as strategies and counter-strategies are concerned—but there might be some marginal spots where TCU head coach Sonny Dykes will choose to let punter Jordy Sandy pin the Bulldogs deep rather than risk it on fourth down. Bet accordingly, and may the prolate spheroid be with you. 

Texans, make your bets for the Championship game at one of the top-rated TX betting sites.

*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.