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Behind the Hedges: TCU vs. Georgia Picks and Predictions

TCU vs. Georgia Picks and Predictions

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TCU VS. GEORGIA PICKS AND PREDICTIONS - Before the CFP Committee announced the playoff rankings, the matchup that I wanted UGA to get most was against TCU.

Their defense was poor, and I was confident that UGA’s defense could shut down anyone except maybe Ohio State.

I fully expected Michigan to beat them, and for UGA to face the Dawgs in a rematch of last year’s semi-final game. Well, JJ McCarthy tossed two pick sixes and Michigan fumbled away a chance at the goal line and winning the game.

TCU exploded on offense and upset the Wolverines. UGA squeaked by Ohio State after the Buckeyes missed a last minute field goal to win. Now it’s the Dawgs versus the Frogs in a championship no one would have predicted at the beginning of the year. 

UGA is college football’s current juggernaut, who after embarrassing Oregon and shutting down Tennessee’s passing attack seemed destined for the college football playoff.

After Stetson Bennett threw for 190 yards and 2 touchdowns in the 4th quarter, the Dawgs have a chance to repeat as National Champs.

The Odds

Matchup

Open

Spread

Total

Moneyline

Ohio State

13-1

+13.5

+12.5

o63

+350

Georgia

14-0

u61.5

-12.5

u63

-435

The Details

Kickoff: Monday, January 9, 2023

When: 7:30 pm EST

How to Watch: ESPN

Public Bets: TCU, 80%

Public Money: TCU, 84%

All odds Courtesy of DraftKings, as of 1/9

TCU

TCU is this year’s Cinderella darling, led by first year head coach Sonny Dykes. Dykes and the Horned Frogs went undefeated until losing the Big 12 Championship game to Kansas State.

The Frogs made the playoff through the gritty performances from Heisman runner-up Max Duggan. Duggan is the perfect person to square up against Stetson Bennett and the Dawgs. Both players have an immense amount of confidence.

Bennett and Duggan have shown an incredible ability to will their teams to win in difficult moments. They have improbable stories for becoming the starter of their team. Duggan has that Tim Tebow factor in him.

He’s not the best passer, but is a fast and physical runner. He and the Horned Frogs just don’t quit. They continued to come from behind to beat multiple teams this year. 

Horned Frogs Offense

Offensively, TCU averaged over 40 points per game behind Duggan and two outstanding players. The first is receiver Quentin Johnston. He is a 1,000-yard receiver and going to be one of the top receivers taken when he goes pro.

Johnston is 6’4 with impressive speed. While he is the same size as Marvin Harrison Jr they have a different skill set. Harrison is a more polished route runner, but may not be as fast. Johnston will present another difficult assignment for Kelee Ringo and the UGA secondary. 

TCU will likely be missing the other star player who has propelled them to success in running back Kendre Miller. Miller, who has 1,400 yard and 17 TDs on the season, injured his knee against Michigan and is doubtful for Monday’s game.

In his absence, Emari Demercado did more than pick up the slack. He cruised for 8.8 yards/carry against Michigan and will be a threat to the Bulldogs. 

Max Duggan

Max Duggan is another mobile QB. He is not the most polished passer, but can be explosive with his arm and his legs. He leads TCU’s balanced offense and can be used as a pure runner from the backfield. Duggan finished second in the Heisman voting after putting up over 3500 yards and 40 touchdowns. 

The Defense

Defensively, TCU is known for their 3-3-5 defensive scheme. So, they use an extra safety at the cost of a lineman.

This provides a couple of advantages for their scheme. One, not many teams use a 3-3-5 scheme, which means offenses can have a hard time adjusting to it.

With 6 players often in the box, TCU has the ability to bring a variety of blitzes and looks from their base set that can confuse the opposing offensive line.

Some names to know from their defense: Johnny Hodges at linebacker and Tre’vius Hodges-Tomlinson at corner. Hodges leads a physically imposing group of linebackers who average 6’2, 245 pounds.

Defensive Scheme

With TCU’s scheme, their linebackers have to be able to take on and shed blocks easily, so they are carrying some extra size with them. They may be slightly slower because of their size, but the scheme creates confusion for the offense and allows them to play freely and aggressively. It makes up for a slight loss in step due to an extra 20-30 pounds they are carrying. 

Hodges-Tomlinson is one of the best corners in CFB, winning the Jim Thorpe Award this season. He is small at 5’9, but effective at corner.

Georgia

How UGA attacks the 3-3-5 will be interesting. UGA faced a 3-3-5 a couple of times this year, but they are run differently than how TCU does it.

When UGA faced Arkansas last year, they played against a team that ran a similar defensive scheme to what TCU runs now. So far this year, it has taken Stetson and the Dawgs some time to settle in against teams that run an odd front.

However, once they do, they are quite effective offensively. TCU’s defense isn’t remarkable, but they have enough talent to disrupt when needed. 

The Offensive Game Script

UGA can do a few things to get off and running offensively. One way is to use plenty of shifts and motions to keep TCU’s defense guessing on what’s coming next.

UGA can also use certain formations that pull some of the Horned Frog’s linebackers away from the box to open up running lanes. RG Tate Ratledge and the LG combo of Xavier Truss and Devin Willock have a huge task ahead of them.

They must read and react quickly to TCU’s defensive line, knowing what gaps they are going to hit in order to block effectively. Georgia will want to do everything in their power to control the flow of the game by running the ball well and controlling the clock. 

Dawgs on Defense

Defensively, there are a few players that UGA needs a big game from.

First, Smael Mondon and Jamon Dumas-Johnson have a lot ahead of them. They will likely take the duties of spying on Duggan, and need to match his speed and physicality. They can’t let him get loose.

Kelee Ringo needs to hold Quentin Johnson in check. Again, he’ll find success, but they can’t let him bust big gains when plays break down and Duggan throws on the run. Ringo has trouble tracking defenders in these kinds of situations, and he needs to create a big play.

Also, whoever plays outside linebacker needs to step up in a big way to set the edge. Chaz Chambliss was injured in the Peach Bowl, as well as Robert Beal.

UGA had to play freshman Marvin Jones Jr to cover for them. That is not the situation UGA wants against Duggan, because they want to keep him in the pocket to throw.

Georgia needs to stop the run, which they are the best in the nation at. TCU has a good interior line, but their tackles aren’t on the same level. They need to take advantage of that weakness, and pray that the refs call holding since they refused to in the Peach Bowl. 

Turnovers

The biggest factor for UGA’s offense is that they absolutely cannot lose the turnover battle.

Michigan handed TCU too many points to win their game. TCU’s offense is so balanced and explosive that they will score against UGA.

So the Dawgs can’t give away free points to the Frogs, whether through turnovers or missed field goals. TCU is effective at creating turnovers, UGA is not. 

Match Up

Who Establishes the Run Better?

If TCU can run the ball on UGA, the Dawgs are in for a long night. If UGA can run on TCU, the Horned Frogs are going to struggle to win unless UGA turns it over.

Whichever defensive line can win more often will make a huge impact on this game. I give a slight edge to UGA here. 

Who Starts Fast?

Both teams know how to finish games. TCU does not quit.

Their team culture and attitude matches UGA. Even if they get an early lead, UGA cannot ease up at any point.

But if TCU gets up early, UGA may struggle to catch up. I think TCU has a better chance to start fast in this game. 

Stetson Bennett

Can he move from one of the great UGA quarterbacks into a league of his own?

Will he make the final chapter of his story as remarkable as the rest?

Or will he push, pressure, and struggle against this team?

If TCU can fool him into committing a turnover or two, that’s plenty to pull off this upset.

Prediction

I’ve got back and forth on this game because UGA’s defense has been so poor the last two games.

With all the injuries they have on both sides of the ball, UGA has key players on both sides of the ball that will be limited. Can they physically last with an experienced team that just does not quit? So much of this game rests on Stetson’s shoulders.

If UGA plays a clean game, I think they could win relatively comfortably.

However, given the recent defensive struggles, injuries, TCU’s chemistry, and Max Duggan, I don’t think that’s how this game goes. It’s easier for me to see a slug fest rather than a boat race.



Brian’s Prediction

Georgia 41 - TCU 35

Author

  • Brian Butcher, Contributor

    Brian Butcher is Indiana-born but Georgia-raised. He knows next to nothing about sports gambling or journalism, but his unhealthy obsession with the Georgia Bulldogs compels him to write down his frenzied thoughts on the Dawgs.

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