This article is part of our College Football Picks series.
College Capper: College Football National Championship Picks, Player Props, and Predictions for Georgia vs. TCU
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A mediocre 2-3 close to my official season last week, bringing me to a closing record of 46-44. I'll never be disappointed in a winning record. Depending on confidence, however, I likely still closed a tad under as far as units go. It should have been better as I limped to a close, but above .500 is above .500.
On we go to the championship. I'll openly admit that during both semi-finals, I was at my father-in-law's (latest) marriage. I saw a reasonable amount of the first game, and scoreboard-watched the second game until there were about two minutes remaining. As such, I don't have a great feel for how things went other than there was no defense.
National Championship Picks
Spread: Georgia -12.5 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
Total: 62.5 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
Moneyline: Georgia -450, TCU +340 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
Obviously not heavy-hitting analysis, but a moneyline play is only an option if you're backing an upset and looking to have a little fun. There's no value in betting Georgia to win unless you're just so confident in another option and can boost odds by parlaying, perhaps with some of the deflated anytime touchdown lines we'll discuss later.
There's simply no way TCU can win this game in a low-scoring slugfest. So if you're backing it to be competitive, the over is clearly the play. We've got an implied final of 37.5-25. I personally don't think Georgia will not have much of a problem getting to 38 points, though TCU has only given that up twice. The question is how much can TCU put up. Can the Horned Frogs exploit what LSU and Ohio State have done to Georgia over the last two games?
The spread has dropped slightly, and sits at what feels like a sucker's number at -12.5, comfortably below two touchdowns. The pick is head versus heart for me. Georgia has been far and away the best team all season. They've proven to be more than just brutes across lines, capable and willing to open things up in the rare instance they had to match points. On the flip side, I love the moxy Max Duggan has shown all season, and specifically in TCU's last two games. But I don't think that's enough. We saw what Georgia did to Michigan in last year's semi-finals, so I'm not putting much stock in TCU's upset last week. The Wolverines had more yards, fewer turnovers and fewer penalties than TCU last week. TCU is going to take chances because they need to, will make mistakes as a result, and Georgia will make them pay. The Horned Frogs will score some, but not nearly enough.
I'm personally becoming a fan of single-game parlays where we move the spread and totals substantially. DraftKings hasn't opened this up yet, but at FanDuel, you can move Georgia all the way to -6.5 at -225 odds. Add that to an over 55.5, and your parlay odds are -107. Or you could go under 69.5 and get -113. Just something to consider. But for this column....
National Championship Player Props
Big shout out to our development guys for the college football player props page. One of Virginia's weird rules is no prop bets on college players, so I'm not usually privy to these options.
I'm all in on Max Duggan here. But be sure to shop around for these numbers, as they are varying severely.
- over 233.5 passing yards (DraftKings Sportsbook, it's 240.5 at FanDuel)
- over 27.5 rushing yards (DraftKings Sportsbook, 29.5 at FanDuel)
- anytime touchdown +120 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
Georgia has allowed 850 yards passing in their last two games. They allowed 15 touchdown passes all season, and seven of those have come against LSU and Ohio State. TCU likely doesn't have that same firepower, but they're close. And in line with a higher-scoring affair, Duggan will have to move the ball up and down the field, or potentially get some late garbage time stats. Either way, I like the DK number, which he's been under just four times all year.
He's also called his own number often in the last two games, running 15 times in each of the Big 12 Championship and last week's semi-final after doing so 10+ times just five times in 12 regular-season games. We need to be a little careful if he's sacked a handful of times, but I feel confident in volume resulting in 30+ yards.
Finally, I'm rolling the dice on him rushing for a score, which he's also done in each of the last two games and eight times overall this season. The anytime touchdown odds are terrible elsewhere, with four players coming in at -180 or better. That's not worth the play. Again, I'm simply all in on Duggan rising to this challenge and putting up points. I don't see a passing TDs prop out yet, I'd be in at over 1.5, not sure on 2.5.
Kenny McIntosh over 19.5 yards receiving (DraftKings Sportsbook, 28.5 at FanDuel)
The yardage numbers are all over the place. You can see the receiving total disparity, but conversely, McIntosh's rushing totals are at 60.5 at FD, but 67.5 at DK. McIntosh went over the DK number seven times prior to this contest. It's not an area Michigan targeted, so obviously not a guarantee. But I look for Georgia to get McIntosh out in space and he could break this on one catch. Further, we don't know how healthy either TE Darnell Washington or WR Ladd McConkey are, opening up additional targets for McIntosh.
I'm tempted by Stetson Bennett over 10.5 rushing yards, but he's been in the negative two straight, and if TCU gets him for two sacks, he'll need more like 30-35 yards to get here. As such, let's see where the passing TD number falls. He's thrown at least two touchdowns in seven of eight.
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Well, I couldn't keep the winning streak alive, but a 2-3 last week puts me at 10-5 for the bowl season, which I will take of course. This week we have just one game, but it's the biggest of the season and I'll be picking the side and total along with some props that look good. Before we get to the big game, let's take a quick look back at this past week.
The week started with a loss on the UCLA Bruins, in what was a very strange game. Pittsburgh was decimated by player defections and the Bruins jumped out early, which led me to believe this would be a route, but it didn't end up that way. Pittsburgh showed a lot of fight and got the cover and the win. Notre Dame was up next and just like Pitt, the Irish got down early, but fought back. Notre Dame ended up seven points clear in the end. Clemson just didn't play as well as I thought it would. I think both teams showed up, but while Tennessee kept its intensity, the Tigers lost it after getting down a couple of scores. The under in the Iowa game was a thing of beauty. Not even two defensive scores could push this number over the minuscule total. Finally, the Bulldogs, who were lucky to win and never really in position to cover. Not exactly like I had thought it would play out.
National Championship Game Betting Odds
Spread: Georgia -12.5 (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Total: 62.5 (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Money line: Georgia -435; TCU +350 (DraftKings Sportsbook)
What a strange path we took to get to this game. Both underdogs played lights out in the semifinals, but only TCU was able to pull out a victory. This line opened at Georgia -13.5 and has since dropped a full point. That's not that surprising as the opening line was a bit higher than most anticipated. The total opened at 60.5 and has since risen two points. This no doubt is a reaction to how the semifinal games played out.
This game comes down to which Georgia team shows up. If it's the one from the Ohio State game, then we are looking at another tight game. If it's the one that showed up for the Tennessee game, then we could have a blowout, so which one will it be?
Let's start with the bounce factor, which often comes when a good team gets away with a win, like we had this past weekend. Georgia was the better team coming in, but the Bulldogs did not play their best, especially on defense and it nearly cost them the game. Whether that was more due to Ohio State or just the Bulldogs having an off-game, we'll never know. The point is this: if Georgia just had an off game and the 'Dogs come to play against TCU, the Horned Frogs don't stand a chance.
We also need to look at how TCU won its game over Michigan. The Horned Frogs destroyed the Wolverines on the ground and did what they had to do through the air. I don't think that's going to work in this game as Georgia allows just 77 yards per game on the ground. Throw in the questionable status of Kendre Miller and you've got more of a problem for TCU.
With that said, Max Duggan has proven to be special this season in that he does whatever is necessary to win and if that means throwing it 50 times, well that's just what they'll have to do. That however could be a problem, because C.J. Stroud, he is not.
Motivation and human nature are the biggest obstacles for any team trying to repeat. For those that won the year before, the fire might not be there or at least it might not be as hot as it was the year prior. It's human nature to let down a bit once you've reached the mountain top. With that said, now that the Bulldogs are one game away, I think we see the best version of Georgia in this game. Being so close coupled with the bounce from almost having it slip away last week is going to provide the added boost needed to turn this into a route.
I don't expect this to get ugly early, TCU is not going to back down and OSU provided a blueprint on how to beat the Georgia defense, but by the end of the game, I think we'll see a comfortable win by Georgia. As such, my picks for the big game are as follows:
Georgia (-12.5) vs. TCU
Over (62.5) Georgia vs. TCU
National Championship Props:
Last year we added some prop picks to the mix to beef up this article and if I recall, we did fairly well, so we're doing it again. Below are my prop picks for the big game:
Stetson Bennett pass yards over 269.5 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
Georgia can run the ball with efficiency, but one common theme over the past two seasons is that as the game gets bigger, the more the Bulldogs rely on Bennett. This was the case last year when he put up over 300 yards against Michigan in the semis and 224 against Alabama in the championship game (he would have put up more if needed). This past week he put up 398 against Ohio State. Sure, the game script called for passing down the stretch, but even in the first half, Georgia was relying heavily on the pass. The only issue I see here is that of a blowout. As long as TCU can stay within reach into the 2nd half, I don't see an issue with Bennett getting over this number.
Max Duggan pass yards over 230.5 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
While game script might be an issue for Bennett, it will only help Duggan in this case. As mentioned earlier, without their star RB and considering the defense they are facing, the Horned Frogs are going to have to air it out if they want to win this game and while they are better when balanced, there have been times when Duggan has needed to throw and for the most part, it worked out. Duggan threw for 225 against Michigan this past week and that was with a game script that called for running the ball most of the 2nd half. Duggan has hit this number in 9/13 games this year and unless TCU can't move the ball at all, he should have no problem hitting this number.
Max Duggan rush yards over 27.5 (DraftKings Sportsbook)
One of the main keys when looking at a QB's rushing number in college is the sack rate of the opposition as sacks count against the rush number of the individual. In this case, Georgia averages 2.2 sacks per game, which is good, but not so good that it would prevent you from taking the over here. The Bulldogs sacked C.J. Stroud four times in the semis, yet he managed to compile 34 rushing yards – and that's from a QB that doesn't run much. Duggan runs a lot and he's going to forced to run in this spot as I believe Georgia will take away the run game via the RBs. Duggan has surpassed this number seven times this season, but more importantly, he's easily cleared it over the past two games, which happened to be the two biggest games of the season. With a title on the line, Duggan will run as much as he needs to.
Last Week: 2-3-0, Bowl Season: 10-5, Overall: 46-42-0