Can Max Duggan and TCU make it against Georgia? Image: Getty Images
When college football opponents had the Georgia Bulldogs’ full attention this year, things didn’t go well. From the opener game against Oregon to the SEC title game against LSU and the Tennessee game in between, every time we think there’s a hint of vulnerability, the Dawgs come out and trample the teams to the point of disfigurement.
You might ask, “Well, what happened against Ohio State?” And I’d tell you Georgia didn’t really take them seriously. How could they? Kirby Smart’s team destroyed Michigan at the last CFP, and UM has dominated Ohio for the past two years, so the transitive ownership argument — and sprawl — allowed Georgia to relax.
So all week I’ve been trying to gauge the focus of the Dawgs. They are favored by almost two touchdowns and the obligatory “How Stetson Bennett went from walk-on to legend” songs have been written for the umpteenth time. They’re also an SEC team, so there’s no shortage of smoke up their ass.
Still, they spent most of New Year’s Eve catching up against CJ Stroud and company, leading the entire game by less than two minutes. But yes, let’s crown them. Which I want to do because it’s so easy. Georgia haven’t played consecutive lousy games in the last two seasons and predicting the results accurately is the currency that buys readers’ trust.
So who will win?
That brings me to my next thought, and that sucks. Fuck it all. The Horned Frogs have taken 3 million things to get where they are this year and very few of those breaks have been handed over to them. Granted, Jim Harbaugh spent the first half staring at the scoreboard in disbelief while the Wolverines didn’t make his crappy playcalls, and the Horned Frogs still had to win that semifinal multiple times in the second half.
Right down to the backup rolling back, who’s predictably fumbling? No problem. Crucial late-game stops after Michigan gets let back in? Here are three of them and a punt return to 16 for an insurance field goal.
So yeah give me the small resilient private christian school in this David vs Goliath match and hopefully a bunch of miracles to come with it cause blind faith and a big man’s support is what it takes for the TCU to hoist the trophy.
Key to a TCU malfunction
Max Duggan, Sonny Dykes, Quentin Johnston and the Hypnotoad passing game all have to be at least confident they can find holes in Georgia’s secondary league. Two separate buckeyes broke the 100-yard mark, and I’m keenly aware of how much like a TCU apologist I sound.
Let me have that though. Positive thinking is the only thing I need to lean on. Well, that and the fact that UGA has given up a total of 850 yards in the air and seven passing scores in the last two games.
With Frog’s lead rusher Kendre Miller questionable after suffering a knee injury on Saturday, it will be up to Duggan and Emari Demercado to lead the ball, or at least keep Georgia honest. The Dawgs haven’t allowed a running or quarterback a 100-yard game all year and have given up 100+ yards on the ground just four times this season.
The last thing TCU can afford is to fall behind early. Don’t let Bennett get comfy and hopefully that will keep Brock Bowers and those tight ends from hitting the frogs with play action. I’ve seen a lot of comparisons between Smart and Nick Saban, and I’ll at least admit that if the manager’s team feels a weakness, you’ve already lost.
College football fans have spent most of this season waiting for normalcy to return to a sport with no parity. Tennessee lost to Georgia and then to South Carolina, and people exhaled. Then Caleb Williams got injured, USC fell back to Utah, the Trojans were knocked out of the playoffs, a well-known Big Ten team seemed destined to make the title game against an SEC foe, and everything in the universe was at least predictable.
All along, the most likely candidate who would succumb to reality won, and we’re still waiting for our beliefs to be confirmed. That will most likely happen on Monday, but if ever there was a season where the ceiling was the floor, it’s 2022.
Let’s see if TCU can shock the world once more and tie a purple and silver bow to a year filled with surprises. A late field gives TCU the advantage, 41-38.