National Championship Preview: Can TCU Tame the Dawgs?

National Championship Preview: Can TCU Tame the Dawgs?

Eric Joy, Contributor

TCU entered this current season coming off of a disappointing, below average 2021 Campaign. Quarterback Max Duggan was Ok, but their passing attack throughout the season was mostly sterile. They had a mediocre offense, coming in at 66th out of 130 FBS teams in offense. Their rushing attack was powerful, averaging nearly 200 rushing yards per game. This seems like a recipe for success, right? Well, their defense was dreadful. TCU’s “defense” allowed nearly 35 points per game finishing 118th(!) out of 130 FBS teams. That gave them a worse defense than teams like Charlotte, Louisiana-Monroe, and Northern Illinois. In the middle of the season, TCU fired their longtime coach Gary Patterson as they sat 3-5, and interim coach Jerry Kill went 2-2 to finish the season at 5-7. Coming into this year, most people expected TCU to be a mid-tier team, with a good offense, and a Defense holding them back. Fast-forward 6 months, and after a thrilling semi-final win against Michigan, TCU is playing for the National Championship with a record of 13-1. What Happened?

Head Coach Sonny Dikes, who was hired away from SMU, has been nothing short of a revelation in Fort Worth. TCU’s offense has gone from Mediocre to Electric in just one season, and their defense has massively improved. Quarterback Max Duggan, after taking over the starting job in week 2, has been one of the main reasons for the offensive improvement, as he threw 32 Touchdowns and ran for another 8 on the ground. He earned several awards this season, most notably the Davie O’Brien award, which goes to the best QB in college football. Running Backs Kendre Miller and Emari Demarcado formed arguably the best rushing attack in the nation, and WR Quentin Johnson played himself into the first round of the NFL draft with a 1,000 yard season with 8 touchdowns. Who will TCU and their vaunted offense play in the National Title game in Los Angeles?

Georgia, over the past 2 seasons, has been the most dominant team in the nation. Last year, despite allowing 41 points to Alabama in the SEC championship, their defense only allowed 10 points per game across the entire season. Except for shaky performances against Missouri and Kent State, Georgia has mowed through their schedule in utterly dominant fashion. Their strongest opponent, Tennessee, put up a feeble effort against the Dawgs as the Vols died a slow death in Athens. Georgia Quarterback Stetson Bennet has been solid this year, complemented by a three-headed rushing attack of Kenny McIntosh, Daijun Edwards, and Kendall Milton. Brock Bowers has been Georgia’s best-receiving threat, with Ladd McConkey complimenting him well. Unlike TCU, Georgia’s defense is the strength of the team, allowing only 14.7 points per game. Kelee Ringo and Malaki Starks lurk in the secondary, while Jalen Carter anchors the defensive line for the Dawgs. Despite a scare against Ohio State, Georgia looks to add a third national title to its program’s storied history. 

In theory, this should be a classic offense versus defense game, with the score being close. However, many people do not see it that way. Georgia opened as more than a two-touchdown favorite, and TCU is considered a massive underdog with little chance. Why is that the Case? TCU, despite having a record worthy of a national championship contender, has not always looked like one during the season. Most of their wins have been nail-biters, and TCU has had several comebacks to save their season against inferior opposition. They even lost the Big 12 Championship game in overtime to Kansas State. Meanwhile, Georgia has won convincingly in 11 of their 14 games and looks to suffocate the plucky underdogs with their ruthless defense. So, who will win? The menacing defense of Georgia or the high-octane offense of TCU?

The championship game will be played in Los Angeles on January 9. You can watch it at 6:30 pm on ESPN.