Location: Los Angeles | When: Jan. 9 (8 p.m. ET) | TV: ESPN| Line: Georgia -13.5 | Total: 63.5
How these teams got here
Georgia: The Bulldogs are poised to become the first team in College Football Playoff history to win back-to-back titles, joining Alabama (2011 and 2012) as the only other back-to-back winner in the 2000s.
By now you know how Stetson Bennett has progressed from walk-on to Heisman finalist as he has become one of the better quarterbacks in college football. The running game is a commission from jack-of-all-trades Kenny McIntosh, the tenacity of Daijuan Edwards and the explosiveness of Kendall Milton. And the receivers can cause mismatch issues all over the field with TE’s Brock Bowers and Darnell Washington and WR Ladd McConkey.
The Bulldogs lost a ton of defensive talent to that 2021 national title team and simply reloaded. Smael Mondon Jr. became the team’s main tackler. Malaki Starks emerged as a great defensive back and Jason Dumas-Johnson made a huge leap at linebacker. Oh, Georgia could also have the No. 1 pick of the 2023 NFL draft in its defensive line. Domestic lineman Jalen Carter has seven tackles for loss and three sacks in 12 games and could be college football’s most disruptive domestic force.
TCU: The Horned Frogs are in the middle of one of the biggest turnarounds in college football history. After going 5-7 in 2021 and being widely picked to finish in the bottom half of the Big 12, TCU has just one loss and is one win away from the school’s first national title since 1938 .
Like fellow Heisman finalist Bennett, Max Duggan has his own unique journey to the top of college football. Duggan wasn’t even TCU’s starter at the start of the season.
While Georgia can be defined by dominance and four- and five-star recruits, the theme of TCU’s season is its tenacity and incredible ability to bounce back from double-digit deficits. The Horned Frogs lost to Kansas, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Texas Tech midway through the season, winning all of those games. A last-second field goal was needed to beat a troublesome Baylor team before TCU made it clear it was heading for the playoffs with an Iowa State blowout. Even the only loss of the season included a comeback. Kansas State defeated TCU 31-28 in overtime to win the conference title, but the Horned Frogs forced the extra period thanks to 11 points in the last eight minutes of regulation.