The New Year’s Eve playoff games were ELECTRIC. Underdogs beat favorites, and in OSU’s case almost beat the presumed Champs. These games left us excited for the storyline for this upcoming National Championship game. A very David versus Goliath-type matchup, TCU verse Georgia. An unranked TCU team, with its fiery, passionate quarterback Max Duggan takes on Stetson Bennett and the 2021 Champs. As I looked back at the games, whether you thought it was the correct four teams or not, they gave it their all.
CFP Recap and National Championship Preview
Michigan loses to TCU
In Michigan’s case, a young quarterback made a couple of costly pick-6s. Combine those with some rough calls by the refs, and no amount of comeback could save them. TCU’s offense played well, the playmakers did what they’ve done all season, and TCU takes the win.
I think the thing that stood out the most to me in that game was how well the 3-3-5 defense handled itself. Coming into the game, everyone had concerns about it not being able to cause pressure against Michigan. Dylan Horton and Dee Winters would like to kindly disagree, as it appeared they both lived rent-free in the backfield.
Winters put on a clinic and Horton had 3 sacks, 2 hurries and a QB hit. Michigan didn’t give up any other sacks but TCU had the right mixture of good coverage with Hodges-Tomlinson leading the way. Add athletic, smart linebackers, space-eating interior linemen, and speedy edge rushers, and you have a recipe for a TCU win.
I will say, TCU sold me on the 3-3-5 defense. I know it started back in 1980 with New Mexico State, and teams have used it in various ways since but TCU is fully committed to it. With the right pieces, corners that can handle their assignments, space-eating nose tackle, speedy linebackers, and edge rushers, this scheme has some really nice wrinkles to it. JJ McCarthy was so good all year, and they were able to bring some looks that got him to slip up, and I think that shows a lot about the scheme and coaches for TCU.
Georgia defeats Ohio State
In the Georgia game, as good as Stroud looked, Stetson Bennett was the most impressive to me. Here you have a guy who’s been in tons of big-time games, and he could’ve checked out but he was able to lock in and get the big plays when it mattered most. The receivers on both squads were electric, Marvin Harrison Jr has been a devy favorite of mine for years and continues to make me feel good about the pick!
Both defenses have some draftable talent, obviously, Georgia has considerably more and higher-rated talent. From OSU’s side, Steele Chambers was the standout defender, part of a .5 sack, and getting Bennett’s lone interception was huge for the Buckeyes. Georgia, on the other hand, kept the pressure on Stroud all day, getting 4 sacks could’ve caused a lesser QB to panic. Stroud really surprised me, as he was able to stay poised under the heavy pressure he was facing, which could be huge during the draft evaluations.
National Championship Preview
So many angles to look at with this game, can TCU keep up with Georgia as it did Michigan? Can Georgia slow down two presumed day 1 or 2 draft picks Quentin Johnston and Kendre Miller? Can TCU’s 3-3-5 defense hold up against Kenny Mcintosh and that run game?
I think the key difference between what TCU faced with Michigan, and will face with Georgia, is experience. Stetson Bennett is not a fresh-faced young starter, he’s already won the ship once and looks to be in a good position to do it again.
Both defenses have studs, Georgia again probably more but TCU has NFL-caliber talent at each level of that defense. I still believe, in the end, TCU will be underdogs like they were to Michigan but I think they have the fight in them to keep this close. I see this game going one of two ways, Georgia keeps the foot on the gas and dominates or TCU keeps it close but I still think Georgia is just too talented and experienced to lose.