Betting News & Analysis

Georgia vs. TCU: Best bets for the College Football Playoff national championship

Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) passes the ball against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the third quarter of the 2022 Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

• Bet Georgia -13 (-110 BetMGM)Georgia outranks TCU in every major metric on offense and defense over the last eight weeks and has done so against a tougher schedule.

• Bet Max DugganOver 240.5 passing yards (-114 FanDuel): We are used to seeing Georgia in the top 10 of all coverage stats, but they have been a middle-of-the-pack coverage unit in the second half of this season, as they have given up 6.2 yards per pass play (67th) and -0.065 EPA per play (81st).

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After two incredible semifinals, Georgia and TCU will meet for the national championship on Monday, Jan. 9, at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Georgia is currently a 13-point favorite, and the total is set at 63.5. The market has moved slightly toward TCU, having opened at 13.5.

The Horned Frogs' six-point victory over Michigan gave them the widest margin of victory of the semifinals. And given TCU's 21-6 halftime lead, it is easy to see why the public may believe that a national championship game — supposed to be between the two best teams in the country — should not have a point spread this wide. However, if you look a bit deeper, it becomes apparent that TCU was the “luckier” of the two teams and should have lost against Michigan.

In the end, it was Michigan's two pick-sixes and their goal-line fumble — three huge plays — that ultimately swung the semifinal tie in TCU's favor.

TCU was the more successful team on a play-by-play basis and enjoyed a success rate of 51.4% compared to Michigan’s lowly 41.3%. But even though the Wolverines struggled with the smaller gains, they countered the Horned Frogs with consistent explosiveness, putting up 14 explosive plays of 15-plus yards compared to TCU’s seven and out-gained them in total yardage by 40 yards.

Georgia and Ohio State played a relatively straightforward game that was as close as the 42-41 score suggested. Ultimately, Georgia deserved their victory, out-gaining Ohio State by 65 yards on offense, posting 15 explosive plays compared to OSU’s 12 and just edging them out in success rate, 50.0% to 48.3%.

As far as the longer-term data is concerned, Georgia outranks TCU in every major metric on both offense and defense over the last eight weeks and has done so against a tougher schedule. This, combined with how these two teams made it to the championship, leads me to believe that this spread is on the light side and that it should be wider than 14 points.

TEAM METRICS
Horned Frogs
Bulldogs
Power Rank: Overall 6th
1st
Power Rank: Defense 66th
20th
Power Rank: Offense 27th
4th
SOS Played 28th 26th
Avg Offensive Snaps 72.6 72.5
% Run Plays 48.7% 49.4%
% Pass Plays 51.3% 50.6%
EPA Per Run 0.07 0.04
EPA Per Pass 0.22 0.33

Best Main Market Bet: Georgia -13 (-110 BetMGM)

As much as I believe Georgia is the better team in this matchup, there is an avenue to success for TCU on offense because Georgia does not possess the coverage unit they have had in previous seasons.

We are used to seeing Georgia in the top 10 of all coverage stats year over year, but in the second half of this season, they have been very much a middle-of-the-pack coverage unit: They have given up 6.2 yards per pass play (67th) and -0.065 expected points added (EPA) allowed per play (81st), all while allowing a success rate of 40.2% (45th). Their PFF pass-rush grade sits at 72.1 (44th), as they have generated pressure at the 34th-highest rate in the country.

Coupling this with the high potential that 1.) TCU will be playing this game from behind, 2.) could be without star running back Kendre Miller due to injury, and 3.) have Quentin Johnston, one of the best receivers in the country, with a good matchup, and the Horned Frogs may be forced into more passing situations that could lead to Max Duggan passing yards.

On the other side of the ball, Georgia’s offense has been posting excellent numbers on the ground and through the air and should dominate a suspect TCU defense. Including the conference championships and playoffs, the Bulldogs rank first in the nation in team receiving grade, sixth in EPA per play, seventh in success rate and third in yards per route run over the second half of the season — and now they have a full complement of receivers having missed some pieces throughout the year.

Georgia is not a one-trick pony, though, because they are also generating 2.4 yards before contact per attempt in the run game, good for 25th among all FBS teams.

TCU should struggle to contain the Georgia run game because they are operating at the 31st-worst run defense as far as average depth of tackle is concerned, and we saw how holes could be created against them on the first play of the game against Michigan when Donovan Edwards blasted through a hole for 50 yards.

As much as the game script is likely to benefit the TCU passing offense, it does the same for the Georgia rushing offense, and Daijun Edwards could be the main benefactor of a Georgia advantage and some garbage time carries.

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