No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 3 TCU
When: Monday, Jan. 9, 4: 30 p.m. PT
Where: SoFi Stadium, Inglewood
TV/radio: ESPN, 1110 AM
Line: Georgia by 12 1/2 points
Records: Georgia 14-0, 8-0 in SEC; TCU 13-1, 9-0 in Big 12
Notable injury designations/opt-outs: Georgia: LB Nolan Smith (pectoral), LB C.J. Washington (neck), RB Andrew Paul (knee), DB Dan Jackson (foot) and OL Drew Bobo (shoulder) are out; TE Arik Gilbert (undisclosed), OL Earnest Greene III (leg) and TE Darnell Washington (ankle) are questionable. TCU: WR Quincy Brown (undisclosed) is out; RB Kendre Miller (knee) is questionable.
What’s at stake?: A national championship. Georgia would win back-to-back championships and complete an undefeated season. TCU could win its third national title but its first since 1938.
Who’s better?: Georgia has a lot working in its favor. The Bulldogs have championship experience and a talented roster powered by four straight recruiting classes ranked in the top three by 247sports. Over the last four years, TCU hasn’t had a recruiting class ranked higher than 28th.
Matchup to watch: TCU’s wide receivers vs. Georgia’s secondary. The Bulldogs’ defense is a strength but gave up 42 points, the most all season, to Ohio State in the Peach Bowl. Defensive back Kelee Ringo did not play up to his potential as Ohio State receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. had five catches for 106 yards and two touchdowns of 15 or more yards before he was injured in the third quarter and didn’t return to the game. Quentin Johnston is TCU’s top receiving target and should be accounted for when on the field.
TCU wins if … If the Horned Frogs find success at all phases of the game. … If TCU’s defense makes key stops and creates turnovers to maximize the offense’s opportunities to score points. … Quarterback Max Duggan and the offense controls the game offensively and doesn’t allow Georgia’s pass rush to turn the momentum in its favor.
Georgia wins if … If the Bulldogs build an early lead and doesn’t overlook TCU. … If Georgia’s defense doesn’t allow explosive plays. The defense has allowed 508 yards per game in its last two outings (the SEC Championship Game and the Peach Bowl), after allowing just 271 yards per game in the first 12 games of the season.
Prediction: Georgia 45, TCU 35. The Bulldogs have played on the biggest stage in recent years, and that experience could make all the difference. TCU has proven it can hang around late in games and find a way to win, but it may take much more than that to stop a dominant team like Georgia.