2023 National Championship Game Predictions, Odds: Georgia vs. TCU Expert Picks for the College Football Playoff

It’s been quite a journey, but come Monday night, we’ll finally reach the conclusion of the 2022 college football season. The most important game of the campaign takes center stage as we crown a national champion inside SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. That’s where the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs, the defending national champions, will take on the No. 3 TCU Horned Frogs, the Cinderella story of the 2022 season, for the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Georgia, which will be playing in its third national title in the last six seasons, should have been here. It was one of the preseason favorites to win the SEC, make the CFP, and possibly the national title. TCU, on the other hand, shouldn’t have been here. The Frogs went 5-7 last year and fired Gary Patterson, the winningest coach in program history. Pre-season expectations for this team were not high; Big 12 media picked the Frogs to finish seventh under first-year coach Sonny Dykes, who crossed the Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex from rival SMU to take the job.

Instead, TCU reached the Big 12 Championship Game with an undefeated record and was selected to the CFP despite narrowly losing to Kansas State in that matchup. TCU found itself more than a touchdown underdog to No. 2 Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl semifinals, but defeated the Wolverines 51–45 to continue the Cinderella story. Now the frogs have got another chance to surprise the world.

Will TCU be the biggest surprise champion of the modern era? Will Georgia restore order and become the first program since Alabama in 2010 and 2011 to win back-to-back national titles? We’ll definitely find out on Monday night. For now, we can only guess, so let’s guess like crazy.

CBS Sports will be with you Monday night with live coverage of Georgia vs. TCU in the College Football Playoff National Championship. Follow for score updates, analysis and highlights from the National Championship game.

National Championship: (1) Georgia vs. (3) TCU

Featured games , Georgia Bulldogs vs TCU Horned Frogs

Spread: I can not lie. Betting against TCU is scary. There have been times this season when I’ve said to myself, “That’s it. It’s time this magical ride comes to an end. This is when we have to fade to frogs.” I’ve been wrong every single time, and believe me, I’m not one of those many people who looks for reasons to shut down TCU every season. I was high on frogs coming into the season, and my impression only improved after their warm start.

but no one saw it coming. TCU playing spoiler in the Big 12? Sure. But that’s as far as it’s going, isn’t it? After a while, I told myself that the Frogs might win the conference but lose a game or two along the way. So, now I’m a little shaken. From a pure power rating perspective, Georgia is the better game for anything under two touchdowns, but TCU has overcome the odds all season. I am not ready to contest against him now.

Still, there are concerns about the matchup for TCU, and a lot of it will depend on the status of Georgia tight end Darnell Washington. While NFL scouts saluted what Washington could become as a pass-catcher based on his size and athleticism, he already is a formidable blocker in the run game. He is essentially an extra tackle in Georgia’s rushing attack. The 3-3-5 defense TCU deploys is more vulnerable against teams running two tight end sets. If Georgia has Washington and Brock Bowers available on Monday, it will be a complex problem for Joe Gillespie and the TCU defense to solve. Michigan struggled after losing Luke Schoonmaker early in the Fiesta Bowl, as it was already shorthanded at the tight end spot.

On the plus side, this Georgia defense isn’t as impressive as last year’s team. This is especially true when it comes to getting after the QB. TCU’s Max Duggan is often his worst enemy when taking sacks, but we’ve seen Georgia’s secondary struggle against good passing attacks this season. TCU may not have the overall depth of Ohio State at receiver, but Quentin Johnson, Darius Davis and Ty Barber are a strong trio. I don’t know if the TCU defense gets enough stops to win the game, but offensively the Frogs should at least be able to put up enough points to keep things respectable. Pick: TCU +12.5

complete: For years we were told, “Defense wins championships.” It’s not true — at least not on the level we’ve been led to believe. These days, a great defense helps separate you from the pack, but having an elite offense wins championships. See national title winners from the CFP era. While last year’s Georgia team was known for its out-of-this-world defense, it was also near or on top of every meaningful statistic on offense. Alabama, Clemson and LSU have also won it all with teams loaded with first-round picks at quarterback and wide receiver. In 2014, Ohio State was reduced to its third-string QB, but Cardell Jones ended up in the NFL after being surrounded by NFL talent on that offense.

Let’s also take a look at championship games during the playoff era. Those eight title games have averaged 64.5 points and only two have ended below 60 total points. One was Alabama’s 26–23 overtime victory over Georgia in 2018, and the other was Georgia’s 33–18 victory over Alabama last season. Yes, Georgia played in both of those games, but that game could have been a high-scoring affair if Crimson Tide wide receiver Jamison Williams hadn’t suffered an injury last year.

If this game is a blowout, it likely ends below the total. We’ve seen Georgia jump out to big leads and sit on the ball at times, but like I’ve already said, I don’t think this will be a blowout. It might not be as close as the semifinals, but I don’t think any team is winning with less than 31 points, which makes the over attractive. Pitch: over 62.5

Who will win Georgia vs TCU, and which side of the spread gets hit more than 50% of the time in the simulation? Visit SportsLine to find out – all from a proven computer model that has returned nearly $2,500 in profit over the past six-plus seasons.

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