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TCU Horned Frogs vs Georgia Bulldogs National Championship Free Picks, Preview Prediction, 1/9/23


(1/9/23) 7:30 PM Eastern.

Spread: TCU +13 / Georgia -13

Moneyline: TCU +350 / Georgia -435

Total: Over / Under 63.5

Side/Total/Parlay. Georgia -13, Under 63.5, UGA -13 & U63.5 Parlay.

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The Horned Frogs historic run with first year head coach Sonny Dykes is coming to an end. Georgia has a massive advantage in the trenches for this game and they’ll lean on that. TCU deploys a 3-3-5 defense, 3 lineman, 3 linebackers, 5 defensive backs. It was confusing enough and worked against a Michigan team that generally ran well all season but they were without future NFL RB Blake Corum. Why it won’t work against Georgia is because of their high usage of 12 personnel and the elite talent they possess with it. 12 Personnel is 1 Back, 2 TE, and 2 WR. The problem for the Horned Frogs is that the 2 tight ends that Georgia deploys are NFL players. Capable of both blocking and receiving. Not only do you have 7 blockers (5 OL & 2 TE) against 6 in a simple numbers advantage, but those 7 players are all better than the 6 TCU deploys.

If TCU gets tired of being trampled, they’ll be forced to bring safeties down into the box and Stenson Bennett has proven time and time again that he can hit the deep ball. Georgia’s passing attack got some reinforcements last week, 2nd year wideout Adonai Mitchell returned from an injury he suffered in early September. He’s a deep threat that came up with the massive go-ahead TD with 54 seconds to go vs OSU. Then there’s also WR Arian Smith who might be the fastest WR in College Football. He too missed time dealing with injuries but returned for the SEC championship game. Against OSU in the Semi-Final, he had 3 receptions for 129 yards and 1 touchdown. TE Brock Bowers elite athleticism becomes a problem when teams load the box too, he has 4.5 speed at the TE position and if he gets a step on you, you aren’t getting it back.

The Michigan Offense had no issue moving the ball up and down the field on TCU and they couldn’t even run the ball. Scoring 45 despite 2 turnovers inside the Frogs 5-yard line and J.J. McCarthy throwing two pick sixes. Georgia’s offense has caused fits for high level defenses all season, something TCU doesn’t possess.

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Defensively Georgia’s run defense is the top in the nation, holding opponents to just 80 rushing yards per game. Kirby’s 3-4 defense has been dominating the line of scrimmage for years and this year’s no exception. TCU takes a massive hit with star RB Kendre Miller getting hurt against Michigan. It was a knee injury that knocked him out of the semi-final. He may suit up but he’s done nothing but rest all week and is on the wrong side of questionable. Even if he does play, he won’t be 100% and he's a back built on explosiveness and sharp cuts. It may even hurt the Horned Frogs if he suits up and they try to give him the ball at 70-80%. TCU back-up RB Emari Demercado did fill in nicely, but the Horned Frogs offensive line won the day against the Wolverines. They won’t against Georgia. Georgia’s Defensive Line ranks 5th in the nation in Line Yards compared to TCU’s 41st ranked offensive line. This is where the loss of Kendre Miller’s playmaking ability will be felt. He’s capable of creating something out of nothing, something the rest of the Horned Frogs backfield doesn’t have. There’s a reason Miller projects as a 2nd round pick in this upcoming draft.

Max Duggan and Quentin Johnston do lead an Elite passing attack for the Horned Frogs but outside of those two they struggled against Michigan. Duggan completed 14 of 29 pass attempts for 225 yards, 2 TDs, and 2 interceptions vs Michigan. Johnston has 6 receptions for 163 yards and 1 touchdown. Outside of Johnston TCU has just 62 yards through the air. And they ran all over Michigan amassing 263 yards rushing. When Georgia stymies the ground game and puts TCU into obvious passing situations, how does Max Duggan fair against the elite Bulldogs defense? Kirby rarely rushes more than 4 guys, leaving 7 defenders in coverage to cover at most 5 players. Then there’s the Bulldogs redzone defense that ranks 1st in the Nation. TCU may hit a deep shot here and there, Johnston is potentially the #1 WR taken off the board in the 2023 draft after all but Georgia can handle that. Nobody tightens up better when it matters most and that’s because of an elite run defense. They rank 2nd in the nation in Red Zone rushing TD’s allowed and the Dogs have allowed just 6 red zone passing touchdowns this season (3rd). CJ Stroud had 2 of those 6 in the Semi-Finals too. Duggan is a good QB but C.J. Stroud will be dicing up NFL defenses on Sunday pretty soon.

There’s also the coaching aspect. ADVANTAGE GEORGIA. UGA HC and Defensive leader Kirby Smart has been there and done it, UGA OC Todd Monken has been there and done it. TCU has fine coaches, but HC Sonny Dykes, OC Garret Riley, and DC Joe Gillespie are in their first year together and have never sniffed this level of success before. Sure they did a decent job against Michigan with over a month to prepare but they barely held on and nearly blew a 21 point lead. Can they figure out and install an effective gameplan against Georgia with just one week? Doubt that. Nobody else has done it. There’s a reason Georgia kept it’s composure and led a comeback win over OSU. That’s called experience.

All in all, Georgia isn’t going to gift wrap TCU with 14 points via the pick 6 and they won’t come away with 0 points on 2 trips inside the Frogs 5-yard line like Michigan did. They’re going to methodically move the football up and down the field and score points like they do on everybody. They’ll run the ball, control the clock and keep TCU out of the endzone on defense. Their ground game and elite red zone defense will keep this under the Total.

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