No Big 12 school has won a national championship in the College Football Playoff era, and oddsmakers don’t expect that to change Monday from Los Angeles when No. 3 TCU faces defending champion and No. 1 Georgia. Will the Frogs cover the 12.5-point spread at BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks?
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TCU Horned Frogs vs. Georgia Bulldogs
Monday, January 9, 2023 – 07:30 PM EST at SoFi Stadium
TCU is the first team from the Big 12 to reach the national championship game in the College Football Playoff era and the only school from Texas to do so. That might stick for a while with Texas A&M already of course in the SEC and the University of Texas heading there in a few years (i.e., good luck getting out of that conference to the playoff—although it will expand to 12 teams in 2024). Sorry, don’t see the likes of Baylor or Houston (heading to Big 12 next season) getting to this game in the near future.
Georgia looks to become the first repeat national champion in the CFP era and first overall since Alabama in the 2011-12 seasons. BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks haven’t released NCAAF odds to win next season’s national championship yet, but UGA will be among the favorites yet again because Kirby Smart has created a new Alabama-type behemoth. Smart was a former assistant coach to Nick Saban with the Tide.
TCU Has Big-Play Advantage
Can TCU cover this spread for our NCAAF picks? Of course, the Frogs can. While their defense can’t match up to Georgia’s, the TCU offense led by QB and Heisman Trophy runner-up Max Duggan—this is his final NCAA game—is at least an equal. That offense hung 51 points and nearly 500 yards in the semifinals on a Michigan defense that was as good as Georgia’s.
The Frogs' offense averages 3.4 gains per game of 30-plus yards and 1.5 of 50-plus; only Tennessee averaged more this season. TCU leads the nation in plays of both 50-plus (21) and 60-plus yards (12). Against LSU in the SEC Championship Game, Georgia gave up 7.6 yards per play and 30 points. Last week, Ohio State averaged 7.1 yards per play and scored 41 points. The Dawgs rank in the SEC in pass plays of 10-plus yards allowed and 12th in pass plays of both 30 and 40 yards allowed.
TCU's six wins this season over ranked opponents (No. 18 Oklahoma, No. 19 Kansas, No. 8 Oklahoma State, No. 17 Kansas State, No. 18 Texas, and No. 2 Michigan) are tied with Tennessee for the national lead. Georgia has only faced three ranked foes and probably would have lost the national semifinal to Ohio State if star Buckeyes receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. wasn’t knocked out with a concussion late in the third quarter. From that point on, UGA outscored OSU 18-3 to win 42-41.
Also, consider that the underdogs in this season’s bowl games were 23-18-1 ATS. Double-digit bowl favorites overall are 6-1 straight up but 2-5 ATS. Georgia is currently -12.5 at the top-rated books and the two most recent two times there has been a spread large as 9.5 points in the title game they were blowouts: Alabama was -9.5 against both Ohio State in 2020 and Notre Dame in 2012 and won both games by 28.
At Bookmakers Review, there is currently a 72% lean on the Frogs against the spread. They are 4-0 ATS in their four non-conference games this season. Georgia is 1-4 ATS in its five.
Turnover Margin Favors Frogs
While TCU’s defense isn’t very good, it has been opportunistic. Bud Clark and Dee Waters both had interception returns for touchdowns in the win over Michigan, marking the second time in the past three games the Frogs had two interception returns for touchdowns. Clark's five picks this season are the most by a Horned Frog since Ar'Darius Washington had five in 2019.
TCU is a plus-9 in turnover margin this season and has been either ahead or even in 13 of 14 games. The one time it was negative was in the Big 12 title game OT loss to Kansas State. TCU has just 13 turnovers and is second in the Big 12 and 20th nationally in turnover margin at 0.64—plus-nine overall. Georgia has a minus-2 turnover margin this season with 16 takeaways and 18 giveaways. UGA has lost the turnover battle five times.
That Frogs defense might have a minor edge because defensive lineman Tymon Mitchell played his first three seasons at Georgia, including five games on last year's national championship team. He has 19 tackles and three sacks this year. TCU coach Sonny Dykes has really built this team through the transfer portal and already has landed some terrific talent via the portal for next season.
Could there be some karma at stake? TCU is looking to win its third national title and first since 1938. That 1938 team was led by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Davey O'Brien. Duggan this season became the first Horned Frog to win the Davey O'Brien Award.
*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.