By: Lucas Kochevar
The National Championship
The 2022 college football season is finally at the end of it's road as the champion will be crowned Monday night. The Georgia Bulldogs are coming off a narrow win over Ohio State, a game where Georgia was outplayed a majority of the time. The TCU Horned Frogs took care of business in a high scoring affair with Michigan. Both teams fought tooth and nail to get here and look to have an exciting game. Despite being 13.5-point favorites, Georgia shouldn't overlook the Frogs as they've been battle tested all season long with thrilling, close games. Many could argue that the Big 12 had the most parity amongst the conferences, which led to this TCU team being ready for any situation. Georgia, on the other hand, has been all business this year getting dominant wins over quality opponents like Tennessee, Oregon, and LSU.
Both of these teams are lead by Heisman finalists quarterbacks with Stetson Bennett IV and Max Duggan and I think that Bennett will be the bigger X-factor. Honestly, I think Bennett is the worse QB in this match-up despite having the big game experience. The way Bennett played in the fourth quarter of this years semifinals was some of the best football I've seen him play, on the flip side, a lot of the first three quarters was just misfire after misfire from him. If he starts off slow and puts the Bulldogs down early, it plays right into TCU's hands. They would love to be in a track race, which is similar to how Ohio State was all over Georgia from the jump. On the other side, Max Duggan has been nails all year as he makes play after play with his arm and his legs. He's a classic 'Put it all out there' kind of guy and his play reflects that heavily. I have no doubt he'll be ready, but his running back Kendre Miller will be important to keeping balanced attack. His status is up in the air with an injury he sustained last game, but it would be huge if he played.
On defense, the pressure will be on the Bulldogs to bounce back after a poor game allowing 42 points in the semifinals. There wasn't a single unit that looked to be on the same page in that game with Buckeye receivers running loose. The Bulldogs couldn't wrap up C.J. Stroud to save their lives. All around it was an uncharacteristic performance from them and they'll have to bring it for the reasons I listed earlier. The TCU defense isn't anything special, but if they can stop the run and make this game messy in the trenches, then they can keep this close.
LK's Lock of the Week: UGA vs TCU O63.5
Before I give my final prediction of the game, I think this is the most obvious bet to take for this game. 13.5 is too big of a number for me to take with Georgia and I would consider it on TCU's side, but it's still too risky for me. The under could totally be in play here too if Georgia gets out to a big lead and shuts down the TCU offense completely. This is where my lock comes into play, I don't think that happens. As I said, TCU has been in a number of close games this year, almost all of them high-scoring. I think they'll score a decent amount tonight and I have faith in UGA to also do their part in putting up points with AD Mitchell looking healthy and Brock Bowers.
When it comes to predicting the game, I maintain my stance that TCU will remain in this game or make it close late. In the end, however, I like the Bulldogs to repeat as national champions and be the first back-to-back champs since Alabama in the early 2010's. In the semifinals, Michigan came out with multiple mistakes and squandered chances inside the redzone, thus giving TCU a big early lead. During my time watching the Kirby Smart version of the Bulldogs, they typically come out prepared for big games and don't make too many mistakes. They should be able to convert on chances that Michigan couldn't and I think that will be the difference in tonight's matchup. Give me Georgia 45-34.