The 2022 College Football Playoff is Set: Who Will Win The National Championship?

We’ve got #1 seed Georgia hosting squaring off with #4 seed Ohio State in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta. The Buckeyes only got in because USC got boatraced on Friday night in the Pac 12 Championship by Utah.

Then we’ve got #2 Michigan taking on #3 TCU in the Fiesta Bowl down in the desert. TCU lost in the Big 12 Championship game against Kansas State, however, the committee didn’t drop TCU at all–they remained at #3 in the rankings. Probably this was because Ohio State didn’t actually do anything to deserve to jump them, as Ohio State didn’t play this weekend. But also, in fairness, TCU lost that game in overtime, by a field goal, to a team they’d beaten already before this season. So it was an acceptable loss, if there is such a thing. Plus, the committee probably wanted to leave open the possibility that Ohio State and Michigan square off in the National Championship game, which would be an absolute ratings bonanza.

I actually think both of these matchups are interesting, from the perspective of there is not an overwhelming favorite in each game.

Obviously you have to favor Georgia, the defending national champion and clearly now the apex predator of college football, against an Ohio State team that, while very talented, for whatever reason cannot seem to play to their fullest potential this season.

And then while Michigan is going to be favored against TCU, we’re talking about a Horned Frogs team that is battle tested. These boys started the year off unranked, and then climbed all the way up to #3. They went through the round robin of the Big 12 and beat everybody, although they couldn’t beat K-State twice. They’ve had some close calls against inferior opponents, but so has Michigan. And Michigan’s best player, Blake Corum, is out for the year now. So it should be a good game.

However, as you can see from the statistical table above, TCU is well below the other three teams in virtually every major category. They are a distant 32nd in overall roster talent. They only have 17 players on their roster who were either 5 or 4 star recruits, compared to 68 for Georgia, 66 for Ohio State and 44 for Michigan. For reference, there are typically 80-85 players on a college football roster. 85 is a full roster, but some teams are below that for whatever reason (e.g., new coach comes in and lots of players transfer out, several walk-ons not on scholarship, etc.)

TCU is not elite in rushing or stopping the run, they are not elite in terms of the all important Yards Per Play and Yards Per Play allowed stats. And their net scoring this season is only +15.3, whereas the other three teams are in the +25-26 range.

TCU vs. Michigan

I am going to start off with the game that will be played first, TCU vs. Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona.

The game opened up with Michigan as a 9.5 point favorite. That’s pretty sizable, and I am not sure it’s warranted.

The biggest thing with TCU is that they just don’t give a fuck. That’s how I would describe them. They throw it deep to Quentin Johnston, their 6’4″ wide receiver who is projected to go high in the first round. He is a matchup nightmare for just about anybody.

Max Duggan is tough as nails, kind of has a crazy-eyes look to him, and he also does not give a fuck. He’ll run the ball straight at you, and he doesn’t shy from contact. He almost looks for contact.

TCU goes down by three scores in a game, and they don’t care: they will come back and win. It’s what they’ve done all year.

I’m not going to dive really deeply into this game because it’s kind of a moot point with how TCU plays. TCU just finds ways to win games, period. It’s of little use to try to model their games out. They can win 41-38 in overtime, or they can beat you 17-10 like they did against Texas.

And that Texas game, I think, is pretty important here, because they held Bijan Robinson to 12 carries for 29 yards. TCU can stop the run if they want to. They were on the road at Texas against arguably the best running back in the country, and they bottled him up to the point where Texas just gave up trying to run the ball.

I don’t think Michigan is going to be able to run all over TCU in this game. TCU is going to make JJ McCarthy beat them, and TCU knows that as long as they don’t have breakdowns in the secondary, they should be fine.

On the other side of the ball, Max Duggan will just make plays. He’s going to launch it up to Johnston, he’s going to run it for a lot of yards himself–the dude just gets it done by any means necessary.

As crazy as it sounds, I think TCU is going to win. I think they’re more dynamic and explosive on offense, and I think they will be able to hold Michigan’s run game in check.

It will be a close game, but I just trust Max Duggan to make more plays in the fourth quarter.

Max Duggan and those boys will not be playing scared. They are not going to get out-dawged. And they are not going to flinch if they find themselves down 2 scores in the second half. They’ve been there before and prevailed.

TCU wins the game 30-27.

I am still not fooled by Michigan. They are a fraudulent team, like they always are. They’re good, not great. They just haven’t been exposed because they haven’t played anyone who has the ability to expose them.

Georgia is the Favorite to Win it All

The easiest thing to do here would be to say Georgia wins the whole thing. After all, they won it last year, they’re the best team in the best conference, the SEC has won four of seven CFP National Championships since 2014, and 12 of the past 16 National Championships. And I do think that Georgia is the best team in the country right now.

The fact that there isn’t another SEC team in the playoff makes Georgia a pretty significant favorite here. You almost get the sense that only another SEC could prevent this Georgia squad from repeating, and since Alabama is down this year and missed the playoff, that’s not going to happen. Even though the other three teams in the playoff are great and respectable, Georgia is still a man amongst boys when compared to them.

The SEC is just on another level from all the other conferences. Even in a down year (and the SEC is kind of down this year, at least Bama is), there is just no other conference that has the amount of talent, speed, power, explosiveness, twitchiness–it’s in a class of its own. The best football players in America come from the South, and that’s why the SEC is the best conference. Period. It’s that simple.

It’s like how great marathon runners come from Kenya, strongmen come from Iceland, great mixed martial arts fighters come from Dagestan, great sprinters come from Jamaica–the South just does football better than anywhere else.

This is not to say there aren’t good football programs outside of the South, or that no other region in the country produces football talent. TCU, Ohio State and Michigan are great teams. The midwest produces a lot of great football players, as does California.

But we see it happen in the playoff almost every year: the media talks up all these non-SEC teams, gives them all kinds of flowers, puts them up on a pedestal–and then they make it to the playoff, square off against an SEC team, and just get pulverized.

You saw it with Michigan playing against Georgia just last year. That game was 34-3 Georgia until Michigan added a late, garbage time touchdown and two-point conversion. Michigan had just never encountered a team like Georgia, and it was jarring experience for them. The speed, power, athleticism and, quite frankly, ferocity of SEC football is unmatched, and usually, teams from other conferences just aren’t ready for it. They’ve never encountered anything like it in their own conferences. I know I clown SEC fans from time to time, but it’s undeniable that the SEC is just on a different level.

Do I think Georgia is going to win the whole thing? I think that’s the most likely outcome, yes. Even though Georgia isn’t as good as they were last year, I still don’t think any of the three other teams in this playoff are better than them.

But I also think it’s not a foregone conclusion that Georgia wins it all. I think they can be beaten.

The one thing I will say this year is that it’s fairly wide open, at least for college football standards. Usually in college football, there’s one team that is the clear and prohibitive favorite–Georgia last year, Alabama in 2020, LSU in 2019, etc. Georgia is the definite favorite this year, but not by as big a margin as those other teams were.

Again, while I think Georgia is pretty clearly the best team of the four, and that Ohio State, Michigan and TCU are all pretty seriously flawed teams, Georgia isn’t perfect.

They’ve had some close calls this year with inferior competition. They almost got beaten by Mizzou, they kind of got stuck in the mud against Kentucky, and they even had trouble putting away a vastly inferior Kent State team. And in the SEC Championship game on Saturday, they let up 502 passing yards to an LSU team that really isn’t that great through the air (although in fairness, LSU’s backup QB, Garrett Nussmeier, looks like he can really spin it, and obviously Georgia was not prepared for him at all).

I think a lot of that can be attributed simply to Georgia being unfocused in the regular season after winning the National Championship last year. They won their first National Championship in 42 years, so it’s only natural that a bit of complacency sets in, at least in the regular season. I imagine it must have been hard for them to really get up for these regular season games when they know it’s all about the playoff.

However, I think it would be a mistake to view Georgia as a particularly vulnerable team. They have a highly functional offense this year, much more than the average fan would assume given their reputation as a defensive team.

Stetson Bennett, their 25 year old starting quarterback, ranks 13th in the country in pass completion percentage, 11th in total passing yards and 20th in yards per attempt.

Their tight end, Brock Bowers, is an absolute manchild who might be the best offensive skill player in the country. Their “other” tight end, Darnell Washington, might be the most physically imposing player in the country–he’s 6’7″ and 265lbs and a projected second round draft pick. Just look at this guy:

He’s like a slimmed down offensive tackle that can run. I mean, think about that: the dude is like a 6th offensive lineman out there, but he can still go out and catch passes. It’s not even fair!

He makes Brock Bowers look tiny:

I’ll bet he somehow ends up on the Philadelphia Eagles.

Ohio State has never seen players like this. Neither have Michigan or TCU.

Georgia is elite at stopping the run, they have a projected top-10 pick in cornerback Kelee Ringo, and they have a guy who in my view is the best defensive player in the country, interior D-lineman Jalen Carter, just an absolute monster who can both stop the run and rush the passer from the inside. He’s a total game-wrecker.

They’ve got other great players on their defense as well: sophomore DB Javon Bullard is a future high NFL draft pick, Christopher Smith, their senior safety, is going to be drafted in the second or third round this year, but at the college level, he’s probably the best DB Georgia has right now. He’s a special player.

Georgia has got studs all over the place. They have more NFL players than any of the other three teams, although Ohio State is pretty close to them. In all likelihood, we’ll look back at this game and marvel at all the future NFL players that were on the field between the both of these teams.

But the thing that in my view makes Georgia so great is that they really have taken on the personality of their quarterback, Stetson Bennett. Bennett was a walk-on who worked his way up to becoming the starting QB. As a result, he’s a gritty, scrappy player with an edge that heralded 5-star players simply can’t muster up within themselves, because they’ve never been written off, doubted, or overlooked. Stetson Bennett doesn’t take his or his team’s greatness for granted, and I think he keeps them not only humble but mean, and with a mentality of being out to prove people wrong. He’s got a chip on his shoulder.

You wonder why, if Georgia can get almost any player they want, they have former walk-on as their quarterback. Surely they can find a CJ Stroud or a Bryce Young, right? Well, I think Stetson is great for them because he’s just a dawg. He’s a gamer, a competitor. He’s got that Will To Win at all costs, and I think he gives that team a real edge.

Given how Georgia has seemed to at times lose focus and kind of fall asleep at the wheel this season, I don’t know if they’d be undefeated if they didn’t have Stetson Bennett as their quarterback. They were down 10 in the 4th quarter of that Mizzou game, and Bennett made some big time throws as he led Georgia to two late touchdown drives to secure the win. Stetson Bennett has sort of an “I will not let us lose” aura around him.

Georgia might not be as talented as they were last season, but I think they are probably tougher to beat this year because of their experience, the confidence that they got in winning their first National Championship in 42 years, and the fact that they have a veteran leader at QB with tons of dawg in him.

Stetson is not as talented as CJ Stroud. Nobody’s drafting Stetson in the first round next spring. But in terms of intangibles and leadership, he’s got CJ Stroud outclassed by a significant margin, in my honest opinion. Michigan’s JJ McCarthy has been pretty good the past couple of weeks, and has really flashed some arm talent that really wasn’t evident all year long, but really, when you evaluate him overall, the conclusion you come to is that he’s basically just like a not as good version of Stetson Bennett.

TCU’s Max Duggan is a dawg as well, and he’s very similar to Stetson Bennett, but I’ve got to give Stetson the edge over him because he’s been dominating the SEC for two years now. It’s a whole different animal than the Big 12, where for most teams, defense is completely optional.

I actually think that Stetson is the best quarterback in the final four. It might sound crazy given that CJ Stroud could well be the #1 overall draft pick in 2023, but he isn’t anywhere close to Stetson in terms of leadership, edge, competitiveness, dawg and any of the other intangibles you need in a quarterback.

This Georgia team has seen it all, they have played on the biggest stages, they have played against the best players in the country–there is nothing you can throw at them that they will not be ready for. They have no fear. They have been here before. You are not going to pull a fast one on them, or get them to beat themselves. You are going to have to beat them straight up. You have to be a better football team than they are, and I just don’t think any of the other teams in the playoff are better than them.

And I haven’t even mentioned their coach, Kirby Smart. Kirby has been on the big stage so many times. He’s been to two National Championships with Georgia already, and when he was the defensive coordinator for Alabama from 2008-2015, he coached in three BCS National Championship games and two college football playoffs.

The experience on the Georgia sideline is unparalleled. None of the other three teams comes anywhere close. In fact, you can combine all their big game experience and it still doesn’t come close to Georgia’s. I mean, Kirby has been either a head coach or a defensive coordinator in six National Championship games plus one more CFP Semifinal game. Between the three of them, Ryan Day, Jim Harbaugh and Sonny Dykes have four total CFP games and one National Championship game appearance. They are a combined 1-3 in their CFP games as head coaches. Kirby himself is 3-1.

The only way Ohio State beats Georgia in this semifinal game is if Ohio State just beats them straight up–if they can block Georgia’s terrifying defensive line, if their wide receivers can get open against Georgia’s NFL secondary, and if their defensive line can win battles against Georgia’s offensive line. Can Ohio State’s linebackers fill the gaps in the run game and win physical battles with Kenny McIntosh and the Georgia RBs? I promise you Ohio State’s linebackers have never been hit as hard as they’re about to be hit by Georgia’s running backs.

And that’s where I really have my concerns about Ohio State matching up with Georgia: is Ohio State ready for the physicality they’re about to experience?

Ohio State’s defense is much improved from last year. Softness is not an issue for them anymore. They are far better coached with Jim Knowles than they were in 2021.

But they have never gone up against a team like Georgia. And I just don’t know how they’re going to handle it.

Ohio State’s Mentality

I think if you’re Ohio State, this is a better path for you to take here.

You’re going to have to beat Georgia one way or another to win a Natty, right? I mean if you get Michigan in the semifinal, and you win that game, Georgia is going to be waiting for you in the national championship game. Georgia would not lose to TCU.

And then say you beat Michigan, that’s a huge emotional game. You’re going to be spent after that. You’ve basically emptied the clip, emotionally. And to turn around and have to get ready for Georgia barely a week later? I think that’s almost impossible. To be able to put all the emotions of the Michigan game behind you and then go prepare for a team like Georgia, it’s not happening. You are going to come into that game flat, probably a bit complacent after finally getting revenge on your hated rival, and with a feeling that you kind of won YOUR national championship game in your own mind by beating Michigan. 

Plus, the threat of Georgia looming after Michigan would probably make it hard to focus entirely on Michigan for the semifinal.

I think this way is better for Ohio State. You get a whole month to prepare for Georgia, first of all. And that’s a big deal. Because you’re going to need it. And you will come into this game as healthy as you’ve been all season. You will be able to give them your very best shot.

And then if you beat Georgia, you get a huge boost of confidence from that. You know they’re the best team in the country, and you just beat them. So why can’t you beat Michigan? You would at that point know you can beat anybody—there’s no team out there that you just aren’t good enough to beat. I think it would be a huge psychological boost for Ohio State.

You would know that the only way you lose to Michigan is if you beat yourself again, plain and simple. Because Michigan is not better than Georgia. They simply aren’t. If you can beat Georgia, then there is no reason you should lose to Michigan, unless you just implode mentally. 

But if you didn’t implode mentally against a team like Georgia, there’s no reason for you to implode against Michigan. 

Georgia is a scarier team than Michigan. They have bigger, scarier players. They’re more physical, they hit harder, they’re faster and they’re more skilled. Georgia has way more NFL players than Michigan does. 

If you beat Georgia, you will have erased all the questions about toughness and mental fortitude and having that dawg in you.

And Michigan will respect you, too. They may act confident, and beat their chest about how they are happy to kick your ass again, but deep down, they’ll know you’re a changed team. They’ll know you’re not scared of anyone, you’re physical as shit, and you’re capable of beating anybody.

They might even be scared of you. Because they played Georgia last year and got their teeth kicked in. They know firsthand how good Georgia is. Michigan knows how far below Georgia they are.

Michigan owns Ohio State right now because they know Ohio State is mentally weak and incapable of realizing their potential. Michigan knows Ohio State is more talented. But they also know Ohio State can’t play to their talent level, and in that battle of wits, Michigan has the edge.

But there will be an unavoidable sense that the sleeping giant woke up if Ohio State beats Georgia. I think Michigan will actually start to, if not fear, at least respect the hell out of Ohio State in the event Ohio State beats Georgia. Michigan might start to doubt themselves even though they just beat Ohio State. They might start to think it was a fluke or something.

It changes the whole dynamic of the Michigan game. Because Michigan has seemed to gain the mental upper hand over Ohio State after being dominated for two decades.

You think about what Covid canceling the 2020 game did, all the juniors and seniors that were at Michigan and lost big to Ohio State in 2019, they were pretty much all gone by 2021. Really only the sophomores and freshmen from the 2019 team were around in 2021, and who knows how many of them actually played in the 2019 game?

So I think the fear of Ohio State kind of went away and Michigan was almost able to start from a fresh slate in 2021. They did not have that mentality of “we always lose to Ohio State” because most of the guys on their 2021 team had never lost to Ohio State. They were free to write a whole new chapter, while Ohio State was expecting it to go back to business as usual. And those Michigan guys last year did start a new chapter. This year’s team has continued it.

And in this new chapter, Michigan has the mental upper hand. They’re in Ohio State’s head right now.

Flat out: If Ohio state beats Georgia, I think they’ll prove to themselves that it’s all in their head when it comes to Michigan. They lose to Michigan because they simply psyche themselves out. They lose focus, they’re not in the proper mindset.

I think beating Georgia would go a very long ways towards putting Ohio state in the proper mindset. They’ll prove to themselves that they’re physical, they’re tough, they’re not just a finesse team, and that they have what it takes to beat the best of the best.

It also helps that Michigan got absolutely throttled by Georgia last year. Because then Ohio State could say, wait a minute, Michigan: you got laughed off the field by Georgia, and we just beat them. You ain’t shit! Who the fuck do you think you are talking shit to us?!

I think all the shit talking by Michigan last year really got to Ohio State. I think they took all that soft, not tough, finesse, born on third base stuff to heart and started believing it. It got deep in their heads and threw them off their game, made them lose focus.

That’s the reason people chirp at you, after all: to make you lose focus and to throw you off of your game. They say some shit that’s gonna drive you crazy and make you more obsessed with proving them wrong than with the actual task at hand. It’s why players fight in the middle of games: because one guy has been talking shit to the other guy all game, and the one guy who’s getting chirped at cracks and loses it. His personal anger and vendetta towards the guy talking shit to him—questioning his manhood, his toughness, maybe even crossing a line about his mama or his lady—has become more important than the game. He now only cares about retaliating for the verbal and mental attacks being waged on him by the other guy. Finally he snaps and starts throwing hands. He has cracked and is now mentally defeated, even if he gets some good licks in.

Anger and vendetta throw you off your game if not channeled properly. If your focus is more on answering the trash talk and proving the trash talker wrong, you’re off your game. You’ve lost discipline. You are on tilt.

Usually this takes the form of being overly aggressive and taking too many risks—trying to land the knockout punch immediately. You tend to abandon your game plan and your process and try to take a shortcut to victory. 

Or maybe you just brood on what he said to you and you completely lose focus—you become distracted and it’s like you’re not even in the game mentally.

Whatever form your anger takes, though, the bottom line is that you have been thrown off of your game. You are no longer locked in, your focus has been broken. Your attention has been diverted to an objective other than “Win this game.” Perhaps it’s now “Prove them wrong,” or “embarrass them like they embarrassed me,” or something like that. Whatever it is, you have been mentally beaten by your opponent because you are no longer focused on winning the game. You’re focused on your bruised ego and your hurt feelings. Your mind only cares about one thing: “I’LL SHOW THEM, DAMNIT!”

You are not winning anything when you are only focused on your burning hatred towards your opponent.

People at Ohio State think Ryan Day doesn’t understand the rivalry, doesn’t truly hate Michigan because he’s not from Ohio. I beg to differ: I think Day hates Michigan plenty. I think he hates Jim Harbaugh more than any of you could possibly imagine after all the shit he took over the past year.

And this is actually the problem. He’s so focused on revenge and proving them wrong that he lost focus on the real thing, which is winning football games. Harbaugh is in his head, bad. “I’LL SHOW YOU WHO WAS BORN ON THIRD BASE!”

I think Ryan Day has been driven by pride and a bruised ego the past year. That’s what I think. And that is not conducive to winning football games. He’s been so focused on getting revenge on Harbaugh because of what Harbaugh said about him personally, I think it cost the team.  

When you are focused on revenge and pride, you play tight. And you will crumble at the first sign of adversity. You’ll start to spiral because you’ll start thinking of “Oh my gosh what if I actually lose again? I’m finished. I’ll never recover from this. This will be the most embarrassing shit ever. Nobody will ever respect me again. What will everybody say about me?” 

Because the reality is that while you were previously driven by revenge and anger, now, when you face adversity, you are driven by fear of losing; fear of failure in your quest for revenge and respect. 

You believe that if you lose to them again after all the shit they talked, then they really do own you. They are right about you.

You lost because you made it personal.  When it’s personal, it’s by definition not about the game, is it? It can either be about the game or about your feelings, but not both.

Focus wins games, not anger.

When you’re watching a basketball game or a football game or something, what do announcers say when a guy is playing great? He’s in the zone, or he’s locked in. 

They don’t say, “Wow, he’s playing angry as hell out there! He’s practically got steam coming out of his ears!”

Because rage doesn’t win games. Focus does. Being in the zone does.

You’ve got to be locked in for 60 minutes. You’ve got to be taking it one play at a time. I don’t care how badly you want revenge, if you are not taking it one play at a time, you’re just not going to win.

If Ohio State beats Georgia, they will get a massive boost of confidence for the National Championship game. I think it will change their whole mentality towards Michigan.

Nobody will be able to call Ohio State soft or finesse if they beat Georgia. Georgia is the gold standard in college football when it comes to toughness, physical play and big boy football. If Ohio State beats them, it will be because they were tough and physical.

And it will be about Ohio State proving it to themselves more than anything else. I just think if Ohio State is actually able to beat Georgia, then they’ll know there’s no team out there that they can’t handle. Georgia is better than Michigan–they’re better than every other team in the country. If Ohio State beats Georgia, they will know that beating Michigan is only a matter of staying locked in and focused.

Ohio State probably already knows that. They know that, defensively, they lost the Michigan game because of just 6 plays. They know they dominated Michigan on the other 54 plays.

But I still feel like there’s a psychological hurdle they must overcome, a doubt in the back of their minds, when it comes to Michigan, like “Maybe they are just better than we are and we just can’t hang with them.”

You beat Georgia, all of that is gone. Ohio State will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that all they have to do is play sound, disciplined, mistake-free football and they will be able to handle Michigan.

And I do think it will get in Michigan’s head a little bit, because they will know that Ohio State is a different. The Ohio State team that lost to Michigan would’ve also lost to Georgia. But if Ohio State beats Georgia, then it will be clear that they’re a totally different team now. And then the doubt might start to creep in for Michigan: What if our win over them was a fluke?

Ohio State beating Georgia changes the whole dynamic of a possible rematch with Michigan, and in my opinion, tilts it heavily in Ohio State’s favor.

But it is a very big “if” for Ohio State, because obviously beating Georgia is no sure thing.

And, on top of that, it will require Ohio State to find that confidence and undergo that shift in mentality before playing Georgia.

They need to be fearless, focused and find that dawg mentality before playing Georgia, or else they’re going to get ran off the field.

This is the challenge for Ohio State right now. Can they actually do this over the next month?

I think it will be easier for them to do because they have no real emotional baggage when it comes to Georgia. It’s not really personal with Georgia. There hasn’t been that war of words, that shit talking, that bitter hatred developed.

In theory Ohio State should be able to play loose because they really have nothing to lose right. Everyone already thinks they suck because of how they played against Michigan. There are no real expectations for them in this game; most of the country just thinks they’re fraudulent, got exposed by Michigan, luckily snuck into the playoffs, and are about to get plowed by Georgia.

They’ll be able to play with an underdog mentality, which is rare for them.

It’s just a matter of, do they have the dawgs in that locker room to go out there and play their best game?

I really don’t see it. I know people are talking about how Ohio State is going to be playing with nothing to lose, they’ve got a new lease on life, etc. But I just don’t see an edge to them, a nasty streak. They will need to play confident and fearless in this game. They will need to be looking for contact, barking when they make big plays. I just don’t think they have that in them with CJ Stroud as their QB. Stroud is kind of reserved and quiet. And teams take on the personality of their quarterback.

I just don’t think this Ohio State offense has the dawg in them to go out and win this game. I’ve seen their running backs show emotion at times, and I think they have some real dawgs on defense, but are the Ohio State receivers going to be ready to fight off of press coverage, block downfield, and fight for 50-50 balls? You can’t just run around and away from everybody. You play a team like Georgia, you’re going to have to get physical. I just don’t think those boys on Ohio State are really about that life.

The Matchup

Let’s start off with the key statistical categories here:

Ohio State has the edge in passing offense and yards per play on offense, but Georgia’s run defense has been stronger than Ohio State’s run offense.

Offensively for Georgia, they have the edge over Ohio State’s defense in all three categories.

Ohio State’s defense really took a hit statistically after those games against Maryland and Michigan.

On Monday, Jaxon Smith-Njigba announced that he was done for the season and would be entering the NFL draft. So he will not be available in the game at all, his career at Ohio State is done.

Not only that, but Ohio State’s offensive coordinator, Kevin Wilson, was announced on Monday to be the head coach at Tulsa, meaning he is probably not going to be coaching in the playoff.

Missing JSN is a big deal because in my view, Ohio State’s offense is limited without him. They’ve got some good receivers in Marvin Harrison, Emeka Egbuka and Julian Fleming, but they were really counting on JSN to go crazy this year. He was probably going to be the best receiver in the country this year if he was able to stay healthy, but he just couldn’t get on the field. He hurt his hamstring against Notre Dame in the first game of the season, came back a few weeks later against Toledo and reinjured it, and then came back again against Iowa a few weeks after that and reinjured it a second time. The re-injuries ultimately doomed his season. I don’t know why Ohio State hurried him back for the Toledo game instead of taking their time, but it is what it is.

The good news is that Ohio State got this far without him, and although their offense isn’t what it could’ve been with him, they’re still #1 in the country in offensive yards per play.

As for Kevin Wilson, look, it’s going to hurt Ohio State for sure to lose him, but he didn’t call plays. Ryan Day calls the plays. Ryan Day is the true offensive coordinator for Ohio State. Plus, I think they’re saying Wilson will remain on staff for the playoff, although of course he’ll be pulling double duty. Not really a huge deal in my opinion if Wilson will be around for the playoff.

With Georgia, there’s one player on that defense that I think Ohio State might go at, and it could be a surprise given his reputation. That’s Kelee Ringo, the star cornerback who is a projected first round pick in next year’s draft.

The thing about Ringo is that while everyone thinks he’s incredible, he gets thrown at kind of a lot. The mark of a great, shutdown corner is that opposing teams don’t even go near him. They just don’t even bother throwing the ball to whoever he’s covering.

But teams throw it at Ringo quite a bit. So I think there will be some opportunities for Ohio State to throw the ball down the field in this game.

The stat I always go to with Georgia is that under Kirby Smart, they are 1-8 in games where they allow over 30 points.

That’s how you beat Georgia: you have to get up on them early, and they are typically unable to keep pace with you if you jump out to a sizable lead. They are not a team built to make big comebacks.

Uncle Lou, a Georgia Bulldogs YouTuber, is the guy I go to for information on that team. He doesn’t just talk about Georgia on his channel, in fact he does a great job of talking about programs from all across the country. But Georgia is his team and his speciality, so I put a lot of stock into what he has to say about them. He’s honest about his team, he’s not just a fanboy who makes excuses and papers over shortcomings and acts like his team is perfect.

He says this game can go one of three ways: the first is sort of how last year’s SEC Championship game against Alabama went, where Bryce Young is slinging it all over the field to his talented NFL receivers and Georgia just can’t keep up, and ends up losing by 2 touchdowns. The second way is where Georgia just dominates the line of scrimmage, CJ Stroud has no protection, and Georgia just manhandles Ohio State in the game and wins by 2 touchdowns. The third is something in between that, where neither team really gains a decisive edge over the other, but it’s a hard-fought game for four quarters and comes down to which team’s quarterback steps up in the fourth quarter.

I think that’s a fair assessment. If Ohio State is going to win, it would have to be like Alabama won in last year’s SEC Championship game. Bama could not run the ball in that game; Brian Robinson had 16 carries for just 55 yards, and the only running game success Bama actually had was Bryce Young on scrambles. But Bryce Young and his receivers were connecting downfield for big yards. And it’s true that deep, vertical passing attacks can have success on Georgia.

But I also don’t think Ohio State has anybody on their team with as much speed as Jameson Williams. He burned that Georgia secondary a few times, but I don’t think Ohio State has anybody like him who can really take the top off the defense. Last year’s Ohio State team with Garrett Wilson, Olave and JSN would’ve been terrifying for Georgia to go up against, but this year’s Ohio State team really doesn’t have the burners.

Plus, CJ Stroud is not Bryce Young. Bryce Young is twitchy, clever and elusive. He extends plays with his legs and is a legitimate run threat. Stroud is sort of mobile, but he looks utterly terrified back in that pocket sometimes, and he is almost allergic to tucking and running when nobody’s open.

Additionally, Bama had a pick six off of Stetson Bennett in that game. So the 41-24 score was a bit misleading as to how dominant Bama truly was in that game. It was a 24-17 game at halftime, with Bama scoring late in the first half, and then they got the ball back to open up the third quarter, scored on a long TD to Jameson Williams to make it 31-17, and Georgia really could not keep up after that point.

Three big plays by Bama really swung that game: the two long TD passes to Jameson Williams, and the pick six.

So I’m not really sure it’s a replicable game plan for Ohio State. In fact, I think Ohio State is going to have a very difficult time scoring points in this game.

Michigan was largely able to limit that Ohio State deep passing attack outside of a few plays. I know Marvin Harrison had a deep touchdown catch against Michigan, and there might have been a few other long chunk plays down the field, but for the most part, Michigan had it bottled up and forced Ohio State to go underneath, which they don’t like to do.

Ohio State’s offense is really highly rated, but I actually don’t think it’s all that functional. This is probably a result of them not having JSN, who would’ve been the best receiver in the country, plus the fact that their top two running backs have been banged up all season (plus their third string running back Evan Pryor has missed the whole season). I mean, Ohio State’s leading rusher against Michigan was a former linebacker who converted to running back and hadn’t had a carry all season.

Ohio State can pass protect well, and even run block pretty well, but the issue is that their wide receivers don’t block. They are pretty terrible at blocking, and their #1 tight end, Cade Stover, is extremely hit or miss with his blocking–he’s either great or terrible from play to play, with not much in-between. The fact that their perimeter players aren’t good blockers really limits their run game, their bubble screen game, and generally hinders their ability to produce big gains. This is another area where they have really, really missed Jaxon Smith-Njigba, because he definitely isn’t afraid to throw a block, and all these young guys that are out there catching passes for Ohio State do not.

And that’s another thing about Ohio State: they’re a young team on offense. Marvin Harrison Jr. is a true sophomore, as is Emeka Egbuka. Julian Fleming, their third receiver, is a junior but he hasn’t really lived up to his 5-star billing. He was the #1 high school receiver in the country in the class of 2020, but hasn’t really reached that potential. At running back, Treyveon Henderson is a true sophomore, Miyan Williams is a junior, Dallan Hayden is a true freshman. Cade Stover, their tight end, is a redshirt junior. Even CJ Stroud is a junior. It’s a lot of young guys, and none of them have really got more than one additional season prior to this one under their belt. You look at that 2020 Ohio State team with Justin Fields that went to the National Championship, there’s not a lot of guys on this year’s team that played on that team. The most experience a lot of these Ohio State players have goes back to 2021.

So while it hasn’t been that long since Ohio State was in the college football playoff, how many of their current players actually saw playing time in the playoff. Most of them were just freshmen in that game. But even more than that, they are relying on true sophomores at a lot of key positions, and these players just haven’t developed fully yet. I haven’t even talked about the defense, where they’ve got key starters like JTT, Jack Sawyer, Michael Hall Jr. and Tyliek Williams who are all true sophomores. Their starting cornerback, Denzel Burke, is a true sophomore.

Altogether, 8 key contributors on the Ohio State team are redshirt freshmen.

Meanwhile, Georgia has Stetson Bennett, who is older than like a third of the quarterbacks in the NFL.

Georgia lost a lot of players to the NFL from last year’s National Championship team (like, 15 players–a record number of players drafted from a single college football team). So Georgia is kind of in the same boat. But in the experience category, they’d have to get the edge. Jalen Carter, Kelee Ringo and Christopher Smith were key players on last year’s team.

Georgia has 4 true sophomores starting on defense, including most of their linebacking corps and half their secondary, and they even have a true freshman, Malaki Starks, starting at free safety. So it’s not like Georgia doesn’t have to lean on young guys. But Georgia’s most important players are more experienced than Ohio State’s.

If you are a person who has not watched Georgia closely this year, the most important thing to know about them is that they are definitely not the same Georgia team we saw in 2017 in the playoff, where all they could do was run the ball, and their quarterback Jake Fromm was little more than a game manager who could occasionally complete 10-15 yard throws on third down.

I think there is sort of this perception of Georgia that, because Kirby is a Saban disciple, they’re built like the early Saban Bama teams–the ones Kirby was the defensive coordinator for. In other words, just run the ball, play elite defense, and then have some unspectacular white quarterback like AJ McCarron or Greg McIlroy or Jake Fromm just hand the ball off.

But that is not how Georgia is built. For one, they just don’t have the running backs like they had back in 2017. In 2017, they had Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and D’Andre Swift. This year, they’ve got Kenny McIntosh, who is good, but he’s not as good as any of those three other guys I just listed.

But the real difference is Stetson Bennett. He might look like an unspectacular white boy who is good for little more than handing the ball off, but he is absolutely not. He’s a Heisman finalist. Does he deserve to be there? Statistically, he probably doesn’t, but the fact is, he’s there, and that’s a big deal because it shows you that he’s dynamic. He is a plus player for Georgia, they actually rely on him (at times) to make plays for them.

And so I think that whole narrative of Georgia being 1-8 in games where they allow 30+ points, I think that’s a bit outdated in regards to this year’s squad. They just beat LSU 50-30 in the SEC Championship. They were up 35-10 at halftime.

Georgia can put up points. They may not be the most dynamic and explosive offense in the country, but they are definitely capable of moving the ball down the field on you and beating you in a number of ways. We all know Stetson is mobile and won’t hesitate to tuck it and run, but he is also capable of extending plays and throwing on the run. He can put touch on his throws. He’s really evolved into a playmaker. Stetson Bennett can kinda sling it.

I think it would be a mistake to assume that Georgia cannot win a high-scoring game. My takeaway from the SEC Championship was not how many points Georgia gave up, but how many they scored. LSU is not some pushover defense. They held Alabama to 31 points in an overtime game. They held Ole Miss to 20 points. They let up only 24 to Florida State in week 1. Yes, they let up 40 to Tennessee, and their defense kind of fell off a cliff against Texas A&M in the last game of the regular season, but they were a solid defense most of the year. And Georgia lit them up for 529 yards, 7.2 yards per play. Now they did get a touchdown off a very strange blocked field goal that LSU just kind of didn’t go after, but still, Georgia was really strong on offense in that game.

A lot of people are saying that Ohio State is a bad matchup for Georgia because Ohio State can sling it, but I actually am not so sure that’s true.

Think about this year, the three teams Georgia has played that most resemble Ohio State–in other words, pass-happy offenses. How did Georgia do against them?

  1. Oregon (W, 49-3): I know, first game of the year, first game for Dan Lanning as a head coach, virtual road game, Oregon wasn’t ready. But I’ll also remind people of what we were saying in the wake of that game: sure, Oregon was ranked #11 in that game, but we all know Oregon isn’t actually that good. Well, it turns out Oregon was pretty good this year. They were #15 in pass yards per game and #12 in pass yards per attempt. Georgia held them to 173 passing yards on 37 attempts, or 4.7 yards per attempt. And Oregon definitely had to throw the ball in that game, they were down multiple TDs almost immediately. Oregon was one of the most prolific passing attacks–and offenses in general–until Bo Nix got hurt towards the end of the year. They couldn’t do shit against Georgia.
  2. at South Carolina (W, 48-7): This game took place in week 3, and nobody thought much of South Carolina back then (especially after losing like this to Georgia), but South Carolina turned out to be a pretty good team. Spencer Rattler has really turned a corner this season. South Carolina closed out the season with wins over Tennessee and Clemson. They hung 63 on Tennessee; Rattler was unbelievable in that game. But they only managed 214 passing yards on 34 attempts (6.3 YPA) against Georgia. South Carolina finished this season #26 in passing yards per attempt at 8.3. South Carolina is now ranked #19 in the country with an 8-4 record, but when they played Georgia people assumed they were horrible.
  3. Tennessee (W, 27-13): Tennessee ranks #1 in the nation in passing yards per attempt at 10.1, and #3 in the nation in passing yards per game at 332.3. Georgia held them to basically 6 points when it really counted. Tennessee got a garbage time TD to make it seem closer than it really was. Georgia held Tennessee’s prolific passing attack to 195 yards on 33 attempts, 5.9 yards per attempt. 5.9 yards attempt over a season would be bottom-10 in the nation over the course of a season. Georgia just shut them down. Yes, Hooker missed a few deep targets that could’ve changed the game, but there was no game this year where the Tennessee’s offense was subdued the way it was against Georgia.

I think people are making too much of the LSU game. Yes, LSU did throw for a lot of yards and beat Georgia deep on numerous occasions, but let’s not forget, Georgia was up 35-10 at halftime in that game. It’s inevitable that you just kind of stop playing your hardest when you’re up by that much, so I don’t really put much stock into what LSU did in that game.

Georgia has already played three really good offensive teams this year and they basically dominated them–held them each to way below their season averages. I would not be shocked if Georgia shuts Ohio State down in this game, honestly. I really wouldn’t. I actually think it’s a bad matchup for Ohio State the more I dissect it. Georgia has done really well against prolific passing offenses this season, and coupled with the fact that they can put up points

Okay, so we’ve looked at let’s take a look at the games where Georgia struggled the most–or I guess came closest to losing:

  1. at Missouri (W, 26-22): Mizzou had Georgia down 22-12 in the fourth quarter. How did they do it? It was not by throwing the ball. Missouri finished this game with just 192 passing yards on 32 attempts (6.0 YPA). This game was just a field goal fest. Mizzou had one nice touchdown drive in the first half, and it was mainly by throwing the ball, but all of their other points were field goals–one touchdown, five field goals. This was just a very odd game. Mizzou only had 294 total yards of offense on 53 plays, or 5.4 yards per play (Georgia had 481). They just had a lot of short field drives. Their scoring drives were as follows: 7 plays 31 yards (FG), 9 plays 81 yards (TD), 6 plays 4 yards (FG), 7 plays 71 yards (FG), 5 plays 42 yards (FG), 7 plays 37 yards (FG). Four scoring drives each 42 yards or less. It was just a wonky game. It was at Mizzou, it was at night, Georgia really came alive and put the game away when they needed to–I don’t really think you can draw a whole lot from this game. Georgia had two first half turnovers via fumble that really set them back. I honestly think Georgia just played a bad game in a tough environment against a Missouri team that isn’t actually that bad (they went 6-6 but lost to Auburn, Georgia, Florida and Kentucky all by less than one score).
  2. at Kentucky (W, 16-6): Kentucky really didn’t get much going on offense in this game. They only had 295 yards of total offense on 5.2 yards per play, and were losing 16-0 with about 10 minutes left to play. What happened in this game was that Kentucky was able to hold Georgia to field goals more often than not. Georgia kicked a field goal from the Kentucky 10, the Kentucky 6, and the Kentucky 20. And they were all in the first half, too. They also got stuffed on the goal line on 4th down in the third quarter. Kentucky is just one of those teams that does exactly this: they hold you to field goals, they slow the game down and limit the number of possessions you get (Georgia only had 3 first half possessions and 9 overall possessions in the game). However, despite the low-scoring way this game unfolded, at no point in the second half was Georgia ever in any real danger. Kentucky never got within one score.
  3. Kent State (W, 39-22): I feel like I should include this game because people bring it up to, I guess, prove that Georgia is fraudulent or something. The reality is that yes, while Georgia should’ve won it 52-6, they were kind of asleep at the wheel for most it. They still outgained Kent State 529 to 281, but they also committed 3 turnovers. Kent State had a 56 yard TD pass off of one of those turnovers in the first half, which was their only touchdown of the game. Other than that, they only had 132 passing yards on 21 attempts. I really think Georgia just played a crap game and didn’t show up.

I really don’t know how much we can take from these three games. I know people want to point to them and say, “See?! Georgia is fraudulent! They’re really not that good!” but that’s not the conclusion I’m drawing here.

Two of those games were on the road, for one thing. And unfortunately for Ohio State, this playoff game against Georgia is being played in Atlanta, which makes it a virtual home game for Georgia.

But I also think Georgia’s poor play in these games was more of a result of lack of motivation than anything else. I’ve been harping on this all year but I think it was kind of inevitable that after winning their first National Championship in 42 years, a bit of complacency would set in for them. You win a National Championship game, it’s kind of hard to get up for a noon game against Kent State, or a game against a mediocre Kentucky team.

Bottom line, I think Georgia just played like crap in those games due to lack of motivation. Coupled with the fact that two of them were on the road, that’s why you saw the results you did.

And only in the Missouri game was Georgia ever in any real danger of losing the game in the second half.

But even that game, I think you can come away with a positive assessment of Georgia: when they were in danger, they woke up and played basically perfect football. After Mizzou kicked yet another field goal to go up 22-12 with 14:09 to play, Georgia then scored touchdowns on their next two drives. And defensively, they held Missouri to 14 yards on 8 plays on their final two possessions. Both were punts. So even in this game, you could argue that Georgia was really not in any real danger. As soon as it started to get serious, they just turned on the jets and locked the whole game down.

Look, I just don’t think you can count on Georgia coming out flat in this playoff game. The three games that Georgia “almost” lost, they just played like crap–disinterested, unmotivated, distracted, what have you. That is absolutely not going to happen against Ohio State. Georgia has been waiting all year for this moment: the chance to defend their crown.

Now, you could say it’s difficult for teams to flip the switch and go from disinterested to firing on all cylinders, but here’s the issue: Ohio State is probably more inconsistent than Georgia is. In fact, you could say Ohio State hasn’t played a truly great game against a quality team all season. Penn State, Maryland, Michigan, Iowa, Notre Dame–Ohio State did not play up to their potential in any of those games.

Georgia, on the other hand, played great every time they played a quality opponent. Oregon, Tennessee, LSU–Georgia played great in all of those games.

My conclusion on Ohio State is that they have one way and one way only to win: they go up 35-7 on you early and basically force you to abandon the run, betting that you are incapable of throwing your way back into a game.

That will not work against Georgia. It didn’t work against Michigan last week, but in my opinion and after watching Zach Smith’s film breakdown of the game, it was not really because of anything Michigan did, but simply because Ohio State can’t execute.

Regardless, there is virtually no chance they will be able to go up by 3-4 scores on Georgia in the first half of this game. Ohio State would be foolish to make that their game plan.

They were only a handful of plays from actually pulling that off against Michigan, but they were just unable to execute in the biggest moments.

They are not going to be even close to doing so against Georgia. There’s no way. Georgia is just too good on both sides of the ball to let that happen.

Ohio State is going to have to plan for a four quarter game. There’s no way around it. They are going to have to play 60 minutes. There will be no 30 minutes and then coast.

And I just don’t know if Ohio State is capable of that. I don’t know that they can win a back and forth game full of adversity and momentum shifts and gut check moments.

That’s what the Michigan game turned into in the second half, and Ohio State basically unraveled at the seams. That’s why I have very little confidence in Ohio State.

It’s not their talent. They are right there with Georgia talent-wise. Georgia has 68 players who were either 5 or 4 star recruits, Ohio State has 66. The talent is almost dead even between these two teams.

I just think Georgia has a massive advantage in terms of intangibles–i.e. mental and emotional factors, experience, Having That Dawg In Them™, etc.

The analogy I like for Ohio State is that they’re kind of like Mike Tyson: they go for the first round knockout, but if they don’t get it, they are really going to struggle going 12 rounds with you. I don’t think they can go the distance. If you withstand their initial barrage of points–their attempt at burying you early on–then you have the upper hand with them. They don’t do well when they’re forced to play a full, 60 minute game against elite competition.

Ohio State is going to need CJ Stroud to play the best game of football he’s ever played in his life.

Does Ohio State Have a Chance?

In light of all this, it’s difficult for me to envision Ohio State winning this game. Given how well Georgia handled teams like Oregon and Tennessee, I think there’s a chance Georgia could win in a massive blowout, to be quite honest. I think Georgia is capable of winning this game by 3-4 touchdowns.

So then why are they only favored by 6.5 points? And keep in mind, Vegas is baking in a little bit of a homefield advantage for Georgia here as well. I know the game is technically being played on a neutral site, but it’s an hour away from Georgia’s campus. It’s a virtual home game for Georgia.

When I handicap games, I give teams 7-10 points just for being at home. Now, I don’t think that’s the case here, because it isn’t a true home game for Georgia. But I think the location of the game is worth at least 4-5 points at minimum.

Which means that Vegas really doesn’t see Georgia as being very far ahead of Ohio State. On a true neutral site–say, in Las Vegas or Los Angeles or somewhere far from both campuses–I think the line would be even closer than 6.5.

Why does Vegas believe in Ohio State still?

Well, because statistically, they’re very good, and they have a lot of NFL talent on their roster. That’s why Ohio State will always get the benefit of the doubt. No matter how poorly they play on the field, they will always get the benefit of the doubt.

But here’s a question: why should we expect them to perform any better against Georgia than they did against Michigan? Why should we expect them to be on their A+ game against Georgia when they couldn’t even must up a C+ game against Michigan, at home, with all the motivation in the world?

Why did they completely shit their pants in the biggest game they’ve been in since the 2020 Clemson playoff game? People will say, “They played tight.”

Okay, if that’s the excuse, then why won’t they be tight for the Georgia game?

Why will this time be different when Ohio State this year has shown you repeatedly who they are? They showed you who they are in the Notre Dame game, the Iowa game, the Penn State game, the Maryland game and the Michigan game.

And yet people still want to say, “No, the real Ohio State is how they performed against Wisconsin, Michigan State and Indiana.”

I just don’t believe it. I think Ohio State has shown us who they really are already, and people just don’t realize it because they’re blinded by all the NFL talent on the roster.

The sum is less than the parts with Ohio State. You look at their players individually, and you think they have to be an elite team. But that’s not been the reality.

I think it’s because those boys just don’t want the smoke. They’re not really about that life. They are led by a quarterback who is not a dawg, and that has created a culture of underachieving with this Ohio State team.

And I don’t expect that to change just because they supposedly have a “new lease on life.” CJ Stroud is not suddenly going to get Justin Fields’ dawg mentality in these four weeks leading up to the game. He is who he is. When push comes to shove, he’s going to crumble. He will not scramble for those first downs to move the sticks. He will not get in his guys’ faces when they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing. He will not rally the troops when they’re losing.

If Ohio State had Justin Fields as their quarterback, I would take them to win this game without hesitation.

You might say, “Well that’s obvious, Justin Fields is a way better quarterback than Stroud.”

But is it so obvious? CJ Stroud is probably going to get drafted higher than Justin Fields got drafted. Justin Fields got drafted at #11. Stroud is projected to go top 5. He might even go #1, although I wouldn’t take him at #1.

The difference is that Justin Fields is a warrior, a dawg, who is willing to do whatever it takes to win games. Even if it means he takes a big shot and gets hurt, he will do whatever is necessary for the team.

I just don’t see CJ Stroud as a QB who is willing to get his hands dirty to win, who is willing to put his body on the line to pick up a crucial first down. If it doesn’t come easy for him, he folds. And I don’t think he’s going to change now after two years.

I am taking Georgia to win this game 41-22. It’s going to play out exactly like most other big games for Ohio State play out. They will start off pretty hot, but get held to field goals more often than they score touchdowns. Their defense will be playing reasonably well in the first half, which is what they’re supposed to do. Ohio State’s defense is supposed to be super aggressive early and pitch a shutout while the offense quickly builds up a 3-4 score lead, which will then enable them to coast in the second half.

But it won’t work out because the offense will not build up a sizable lead at all. It’s going to be a lot of missed opportunities and field goals and points left on the field.

And then they will not be able to play four quarters of football with a team like Georgia. It might be close at halftime but Georgia will pull away in the second half and Ohio State’s offense will be like a car broken down on the side of the road. The dam will eventually break on the Ohio State defense after repeated failures by the offense.

Ohio State’s defense might get a pick or two off of Stetson Bennett, because he is known for making a few boneheaded plays in every game. But the Ohio State offense simply will not be able to capitalize.

Ohio State fans will blame Ryan Day and demand his head on a platter, but it won’t be on him. At least not fully. It will be because his quarterback, CJ Stroud, just doesn’t have the mentality of a champion.

Look, it’s very simple: in college football, you need a dual threat quarterback. You need a guy who can improvise when the play breaks down. You need a guy who can pick up those first downs with his legs. It makes a massive difference. Because your passing attack won’t always be on point, especially not against great defenses. You will run into obstacles offensively, and so you need a quarterback who can pick up first downs with his legs to keep drives alive and, most importantly, scramble for touchdowns in the red zone. Your gameplan will inevitably go to shit, and the pocket will inevitably break down. This is not Big 12 football. You need a quarterback who can get it done by any means necessary.

Georgia has that guy in Stetson Bennett. CJ Stroud is significantly more talented than Stetson Bennett, but what makes Stetson better than him (in my view) is Stetson’s dawg mentality and his willingness to run. It doesn’t matter how you pick up first downs or gain yardage, just move the ball down the field. 20 yards by a perfectly placed ball on a slant route, or 20 yards on a QB scramble–it all counts the same. Against big-time competition, you move the ball by hook or by crook. You do whatever has to be done to pick up the first down. Georgia’s quarterback understands that, I don’t think Ohio State’s does.

I think CJ Stroud is a phenomenal passer. I think he absolutely has an NFL arm. But I don’t think he realizes that a quarterback’s job nowadays is about more than just throwing the ball. He is such a reluctant runner that I think it has a profound impact on this Ohio State football team, and it’s a big part of the reason there’s been a drop-off since Justin Fields left.

The best way I’ve heard anyone sum up this Ohio State team was Zach Smith and Kris on the Menace 2 Sports podcast: nobody was calling Ohio State soft when Justin Fields was the quarterback.

That’s really what it boils down to. Stroud is not a dawg, and they will lose because of that.

Name me one college football team that has won a National Championship in the past decade that had a quarterback who didn’t like to run the ball. I’ll wait.

You’re gonna say Mac Jones, right? That’s fair. I do remember Mac Jones tucking and running the ball once or twice in the National Championship game against Ohio State, but that’s about it.

Mac Jones also may have been on the greatest college football team ever assembled in terms of talent. DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, John Metchie, Najee Harris, Landon Dickerson, Alex Leatherwood, Christian Barmore, Patrick Surtain II–that was literally an NFL team playing in college. You can’t count on having that much talent on your team. Ohio State’s team this year, while talented, is not as talented as that 2020 Bama team.

Your quarterback has to make plays by any means necessary. He can’t just sit back there in the pocket and pick the defense apart. You can’t even really do that in the NFL anymore, either.

Stetson Bennett, Joe Burrow in 2019 (and before you even say anything just because Burrow is white: 115 rushing attempts for 368 yards and 5 TDs that year for LSU), Trevor Lawrence in 2018, Jalen Hurts and Tua in 2017, DeShaun Watson in 2016–you need a dual threat QB to win championships in college football. Alabama had a dude named Jake Coker in 2015, an unathletic white guy, but he’s another exception to the rule like Mac Jones. Ohio State had Cardale Jones in 2014 and he ran the ball. Even Jameis Winston, who nobody thinks of as a runner, had 88 rushing attempts for 219 yards back in 2013 for Florida State.

The days of pure pocket passers are over. And I think this is a big reason why Ohio State has regressed over the past two years–because CJ Stroud does not want to run the ball. He just wants to sit back there in the pocket and deliver strikes.

And I don’t think he’s going to change for this game against Georgia, the hardest-hitting team in college football.

Stetson will run it. He will tuck that ball and run it without hesitation or reluctance. Stetson will get his hands dirty if that’s what it takes to get the win. That’s why Georgia will win.

So now we are set up with a Georgia vs. TCU National Championship game. The Big Ten’s best two teams will have failed on the biggest stage, and we’ll have a David vs. Goliath matchup.

And you know what? I think the TCU magic continues. Max Duggan is just such a dawg—

Just kidding.

Georgia rolls to their second consecutive National Championship.

One thought on “The 2022 College Football Playoff is Set: Who Will Win The National Championship?

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