The 2022-23 college football season concludes Monday with No. 1 Georgia (as expected) in the national title game against unexpected opponent No. 3 TCU.
Let’s break down five lessons we learned from the College Football Playoff semifinals before making our NCAAF picks on the title game.
TCU Horned Frogs vs. Georgia Bulldogs
Monday, January 9, 2023 – 07:30 PM EST at SoFi Stadium
The Big 12 has never had a team win the College Football Playoff and oddsmakers clearly don’t think No. 3 TCU will end that drought as the Frogs are nearly two-touchdown underdogs against defending champion and No. 1 Georgia in the national title game Monday from SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles – which was also the site of Super Bowl 56.
The SEC has won the championship in the CFP era three straight seasons and five times overall. Only the ACC (Clemson twice) and Big Ten (Ohio State once) have also had a winner.
1. Bet the Over
College football offenses have been scoring at will all season, and that was on display in the CFP semifinals on New Year’s Eve even though the two games featured three of the best regular-season defenses in the country in Georgia, Ohio State, and Michigan.
The Dawgs rallied for a wild 42-41 win over the Buckeyes with the teams combining for exactly 1,000 yards offense – both averaged at least 10.2 yards per play – even though neither was very good on third down with UGA 4-for-12 converting offensively and OSU 2-for-10.
Michigan put up 528 yards and 45 points on a shaky TCU defense but allowed 51 points. The 96 combined points were the second-most ever in a College Football Playoff game. There were a whopping 44 points scored in the third quarter alone. That was the highest-scoring CFP quarter ever.
- TCU has given up 82 points and 932 yards of offense between its win over Michigan and 31-28 loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship Game.
- Georgia has given up 71 points and more than 1,000 yards of offense in its past two, vs. Ohio State and the win over LSU in the SEC title game.
The total for Monday is 62 points at Texas and Georgia betting sites.
2. Close Game?
Entering this season’s playoff, 11 of the 14 semifinal games since 2015 had been decided by 14 or more points. Yet the two on New Year’s Eve went down to the wire and were decided by a total of just seven points. In the first eight years of the College Football Playoff (2014-21), there were three semifinal games total decided by single digits.
What does that mean for the national championship game? The past four have all been decided by at least 15 points. While Georgia played in plenty of blowouts this season, TCU was in close game after close game, playing seven of them decided by one score (including the CFB).
That Georgia wins this game by 1-6 points is +500 at top-rated sportsbooks and by 7-12 at +400. TCU by 1-6 is at +650 and 7-12 at +750.
3. Fade The Public?
You should really be doing this in all major sports: Fade the public. Michigan and Ohio State are two of the most public teams in the nation (so are Alabama and Notre Dame), and they both took massive action on the spread in the semifinals. That hurt the various sportsbooks on the Buckeyes, but they cashed in on Michigan being upset.
As of this writing via Bookmakers Review's college football odds, 84% of the action on the spread of 13.5 is on TCU. The smallest line offered among those books is +12.5 via Bookmaker (visit our Bookmaker Review). None are offering +14 yet.
4. Injury Report
The two key injuries entering the title game are TCU running back Kendre Miller and Georgia tight end Darnell Washington.
The junior Miller has 224 carries for 1,399 yards and 17 TDs this season but left in the second half vs. Michigan with an undisclosed injury after eight carries for 57 yards. He is officially questionable against Georgia.
Miller was the first FBS player since Derrick Henry with a rush TD in 13 straight games to begin a season. Backup Emari Demercado blew up in his spot against the Wolverines with 17 carries for 150 yards and a score in by far his best game.
While UGA might have the nation’s top tight end and John Mackey Award winner in Brock Bowers, Washington is considered so talented he might be a first-round pick in April’s NFL Draft.
He has a strained ankle and soft-tissue bruise suffered and is questionable. Washington has 27 catches for 426 yards with two scores this season. The Bulldogs had used two-tight-end sets 59% of the time going into the Ohio State game, third most in the FBS.
5. Repeating Is Rare
Georgia is looking to become the 12th repeat national champion in Associated Poll Era and the first since 2011-12 Alabama. Dawgs QB Stetson Bennett, who will be playing his final game, is trying to become the seventh starting QB in the AP Poll Era to win back-to-back national titles. The others:
- 1946-47 - Johnny Lujack, Notre Dame
- 1955-56 - Jimmy Harris, Oklahoma
- 1970-71 - Jerry Tagge, Nebraska
- 1974-75 - Steve Davis, Oklahoma
- 2003-04 - Matt Leinart, USC
- 2011-12 - A.J. McCarron, Alabama
TCU is the first Big 12 team to play in National Championship Game since 2009 Texas and seeking its first win against an AP Top 2 team since 1961 at No. 1 Texas (lost 11 straight).