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College Football Playoff highlights: Georgia routs TCU, becoming back-to-back national champion

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 1/9/2023 Adam Kilgore, Des Bieler
Stetson Bennett threw for four touchdowns and ran for two more scores against TCU in the national championship game at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) © Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images Stetson Bennett threw for four touchdowns and ran for two more scores against TCU in the national championship game at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs routed the No. 3 TCU Horned Frogs, 65-7, in the College Football Playoff championship game Monday night at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. Georgia repeated as national champion and won its fourth title in school history. The Bulldogs are the first team to win back-to-back national championships since Alabama in the 2012 season. Continue reading for highlights from the game.

Brewer: TCU was a deserving finalist and college football is better with variety

11:00 PM: Georgia beats TCU for second straight national title

Georgia routed TCU, 65-7, in Monday’s College Football Playoff final for its second straight national championship. Quarterback Stetson Bennett led the way with six total touchdowns, including four through the air to go with 304 yards on 18-of-25 passing.

TCU’s only touchdown came in the first quarter and briefly turned the contest into a tight affair, but the Bulldogs proved to be the thoroughly superior team. They became the first back-to-back national title winners since Alabama after the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

By: Des Bieler

10:59 PM: Analysis from Adam Kilgore, Reporter covering national sports

On ESPN, Kirk Herbstreit is discussing how damaging TCU’s huge loss could be for the Big 12’s reputation when it comes to future playoff seeding. It’s a fair point, but don’t forget — the Horned Frogs are here because they beat undefeated Michigan. Tonight was about how absurdly dominant Georgia was, not how TCU wilted. Georgia took it.

10:55 PM: Why not? Georgia goes over 60-point mark.

As far as the Bulldogs are concerned, if TCU is not going to stop them, then they’ll just keep on scoring. Georgia went over the 60-point mark with its ninth touchdown and the second straight scored by running back Branson Robinson.

A 5-10, 220-pound freshman, Robinson sprinted in from 19 yards out. In what has been one of Georgia’s few miscues of the evening, the extra point failed, leaving the Bulldogs with a 65-7 lead over the Horned Frogs midway through the fourth quarter.

Georgia needed just one play on the scoring drive, which began after TCU turned the ball over on downs when Max Duggan was sacked on a fourth-and-six play.

That ended Duggan’s evening. The beleaguered senior star was replaced on TCU’s next possession by backup quarterback Chandler Morris, a redshirt freshman who actually began this season as the starter before an injury in the first game opened the door for Duggan.

By: Des Bieler

10:45 PM: Analysis

As Georgia’s cascade of curtain calls continues, it would be nice if TCU did the same for Max Duggan. It would be a fitting tribute for the Heisman runner-up who authored one of the great seasons in program history. It would also be best for his physical well-being. Even Georgia’s backups linemen are trouncing TCU.

10:38 PM: Georgia runs in an eighth TD for 59-7 lead

One might expect a program as powerful as Georgia to have a pretty good second- or even third-string group of reserves, and it looked that way on a fourth quarter drive that ended with the team’s eighth touchdown of the night against TCU.

After Carson Beck took over from starting quarterback Stetson Bennett and completed a pair of passes, running back Branson Robinson powered his way from the 13-yard line to the doorstep of the goal line before punching the ball in on the next play.

The Bulldogs now have a 59-7 lead.

By: Des Bieler

10:31 PM: Stetson Bennett pulled after masterful performance

With his team up by 45 points early in the fourth quarter, Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett was pulled from the field to raucous cheers from Bulldogs fans.

At that point, Georgia was facing a second-and-seven situation just after forcing TCU to turn the ball over on downs near midfield. Bennett was replaced by backup quarterback Carson Beck, a 6-4, 215-pound redshirt sophomore.

The departure of Bennett ends one of the more remarkable careers in recent college football history. An undersized walk-on at Georgia who had to leave for junior college to show he could play, Bennett defied all sorts of odds by returning to the program and outlasting an assortment of much more highly touted contenders for the starting quarterback job.

By: Des Bieler

10:22 PM: Uga is watching it all from home

Don't worry, buddy, we'll take it from here. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) © John Bazemore/AP Don't worry, buddy, we'll take it from here. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Georgia’s destruction of TCU is that the team is managing it without the crucial moral support usually provided from the sideline by Uga, its bulldog mascot.

Uga X, the formal name of the latest pooch to have the honor of representing the ’Dawgs, was kept at home by his humans because the trip to Los Angeles was simply too far for the nine-year-old beauty. However, he was shown on ESPN’s telecast in the second half, proudly donning a Georgia jersey for the momentous occasion.

By: Des Bieler

10:21 PM: Analysis from Adam Kilgore, Reporter covering national sports

As Stetson Bennett’s remarkable college career closes, it’s worth considering his NFL future. If he’s drafted, it’ll be in the sixth or seventh round. He’s listed at 5-11. He’s 25 — 10 months younger than Lamar Jackson, about to sign his second contract. Bennett is fast, smart and accurate. He could carve a career as a backup. Think Taylor Heinicke.

10:16 PM: Georgia keeps pouring it on with TD for 52-7 lead

Georgia is mixing in some runs in the second half, but the Bulldogs have not taken their collective foot (paw?) off the accelerator. Stetson Bennett threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game with just over two minutes left in the third quarter, helping give Georgia a 52-7 lead over TCU.

The 14-yard toss went to wide receiver Ladd McConkey, his second score of the game to go with 88 yards on five receptions. Bennett now has 304 yards on 18-of-25 passing.

By: Des Bieler

10:04 PM: Analysis from Adam Kilgore, Reporter covering national sports

Brock Bowers is a walking argument to make exceptions to the NFL rule that requires three years in college to be draft eligible.

9:58 PM: Stetson Bennett, Brock Bowers help Georgia to 45-7 lead

TCU has no answers for the Bennett-to-Bowers battery, and the result is a 45-7 Georgia lead early in the second half.

Stetson Bennett found tight end Brock Bowers on a 22-yard touchdown pass to pad the Bulldogs’ already massive advantage. On the first play of the four-play drive, after taking over at his 45-yard line following a TCU punt, Bennett hit Bowers on a short pass that the latter turned into a 28-yard play.

Bowers is up to 152 yards and a touchdown on seven catches, with two carries for 15 yards. Bennett has three touchdowns and 263 yards on 15-of-21 passing, plus 39 yards and two scores on the ground.

By: Des Bieler

9:55 PM: Analysis from Adam Kilgore, Reporter covering national sports

Georgia is about to become the first repeat champion since Alabama in 2011-2012. It raises the question: Is Georgia the new Alabama? It’s tempting to say yes, but the reality is that Alabama hasn’t gone anywhere; they went 11-2 with two last-second losses and destroyed Kansas State in a New Year’s Day bowl. Really, there are two Alabamas now.

9:47 PM: Georgia, TCU trade punts to start second half

Needing to commence a scoring explosion to get back in the game, TCU instead punted on its first drive of the second half, after a short run and two passes.

TCU had gotten what it desperately needed by forcing Georgia to go three-and-out on the first possession of the third quarter, with the Bulldogs punting for the first time in the game. On the punt, though, the Horned Frogs committed a holding penalty, pushing them back to their own 10-yard line.

By: Des Bieler

9:32 PM: Halftime: Georgia 38, TCU 7

Georgia's Xavier Truss celebrates after a touchdown in the first quarter against TCU. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) © Ronald Martinez/Getty Images Georgia's Xavier Truss celebrates after a touchdown in the first quarter against TCU. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Well, at least we had a tremendous pair of semifinal games in the College Football Playoff. Barring a comeback tonight of almost unimaginable proportions, Georgia looks set to cruise to its second straight national championship.

With two quarters played at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., the Bulldogs have a 38-7 lead over TCU and probably can spend the second half giving their backups some playing time on the sport’s biggest stage.

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett, who finished fourth in this year’s voting for the Heisman Trophy, has submitted a nearly flawless performance against the Horned Frogs. A senior listed at 5-11 and 190 pounds, Bennett has 223 yards and two touchdowns on 14-of-18 passing, plus two more touchdowns and 39 yards on the ground.

TCU quarterback Max Duggan, who finished second only to USC’s Caleb Williams in the Heisman balloting, has completed eight of 13 passes tonight. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he has thrown for 97 scoreless yards, and two of his incompletions were interceptions.

Duggan does have his team’s only score after running it in from two yards out on TCU’s third drive. At the time, that helped give fans a 10-7 score and the hope of a competitive game. Then Georgia began steadily pulling away.

One faint point of remaining hope for TCU comes from a factoid provided by the game’s broadcaster, ESPN, which noted that the 2016 Horned Frogs overcame a 31-0 halftime deficit to Oregon in the Alamo Bowl. Overall, though, Football Bowl Subdivision teams trailing by at least that much through two quarters are 1-530 in the past 15 seasons.

By: Des Bieler

9:18 PM: Georgia turns second interception into 38-7 lead

Halftime can’t come soon enough for TCU. After Horned Frogs quarterback Max Duggan was picked off for a second time, Georgia scored a touchdown with 26 seconds left in the second quarter for a 38-7 lead.

Wide receiver Adonai Mitchell scored on a 22-yard pass from Stetson Bennett, one play after the two almost hooked up on a touchdown connection. That incompletion marked the Bulldogs’ first play following a pick by defensive back Javon Bullard, his second of the game.

Clearly smelling blood in the water, Georgia immediately went for a deep shot, and after the first one was defended the second one found pay dirt.

By: Des Bieler

9:11 PM: Analysis from Adam Kilgore, Reporter covering national sports

The largest margin of victory in a College Football Playoff title game is 28 — Clemson beat Alabama, 44-16, in 2019, and Alabama beat Ohio State, 52-24, in 2021. Georgia, which receives the ball to start the second half, appears poised to challenge that mark.

9:10 PM: Georgia moves to 31-7 lead over TCU

Georgia stretched its lead to 24 points in the first half by scoring another touchdown for a 31-7 margin over TCU. Running back Kendall Milton did the honors from one yard out, capping an 11-play, 66-yard drive.

After the Bulldogs got to TCU’s 36, quarterback Stetson Bennett completed a 24-yard pass to Brock Bowers on a third-and-15 play. Bowers, this season’s Mackey Award winner as the nation’s top tight end, already has five receptions tonight for 102 yards, plus two carries for 15 yards.

By: Des Bieler

8:59 PM: Analysis from Adam Kilgore, Reporter covering national sports

Brock Bowers: five catches, 102 yards. He had just one catch in the first half against Ohio State. Tonight, he’s playing like what he is: One of the very best players in college football, at any position. He could be the rare tight end Heisman candidate next season.

8:53 PM: Georgia picks off TCU’s Max Duggan

Looking for a big play, TCU’s Max Duggan instead got intercepted after he threw deep on a third-and-seven play from his own 23. Georgia’s Javon Bullard hauled in the ball while covering star TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston, and the Bulldogs took possession at their 34.

By: Des Bieler

8:51 PM: Analysis from Adam Kilgore, Reporter covering national sports

Nice thought by Max Duggan to give Quentin Johnston a shot deep downfield. Poor execution, and it’s an interception that contributes to a building rout.

8:46 PM: Analysis from Adam Kilgore, Reporter covering national sports

Quentin Johnston, projected to be the first wide receiver taken in the NFL draft, has been quiet so far — one catch for three yards. Now would be a good time for him to make an impact.

8:45 PM: Georgia drives 92 yards for another TD and 24-7 lead

Starting from its own 8-yard line, Georgia drove all the way down the field for a touchdown and a 24-7 lead. Quarterback Stetson Bennett finished the march with his second rushing touchdown of the game, this time from six yards out.

Along the way, Bennett completed passes of 10 and 35 yards to tight end Brock Bowers, and various Bulldogs ballcarriers combined on the drive for 39 yards.

Georgia got the ball deep in its own end after TCU chose to punt on fourth and six in Bulldogs territory at the 47. One imagines that the Horned Frogs will take a more aggressive approach going forward.

By: Des Bieler

8:35 PM: Analysis from Adam Kilgore, Reporter covering national sports

TCU should have gone for it on fourth and 6 near midfield. The way Georgia’s offense is moving the ball, and with Georgia due to get the ball first in the second half, possession matters far more than field position for the Horned Frogs.

8:29 PM: Analysis from Adam Kilgore, Reporter covering national sports

This might be useful context tonight: The 85 points Alabama (45) and Clemson (40) combined for in 2016 is the most points ever scored in the brief history of the College Football Playoff championship game.

8:27 PM: Ladd McConkey keys TD drive and 17-7 Georgia lead

Wide receiver Ladd McConkey was Georgia’s main man on a four-play, 70-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown and a 17-7 Bulldogs lead over TCU. McConkey, a redshirt sophomore who had been slowed this season with knee issues, looked spry while catching the ball three times, including on a 37-yard scoring reception, during the drive.

By: Des Bieler

8:25 PM: Analysis from Adam Kilgore, Reporter covering national sports

TCU’s 3-3-5 defense gives it great optionality, allowing a gaggle of defensive backs and linebackers to confuse opposing quarterbacks. Stetson Bennett’s experience, along with excellent pass protection and a powerful running game, has blunted those advantages. Georgia is making TCU, typically an aggressive defense, play on its heels.

8:20 PM: TCU gets on the board with a TD, down 10-7

TCU, which appeared to on the verge of letting this game get away from it, instead scored a quick touchdown to cut Georgia’s lead to 10-7 in the first quarter.

On a second-and-six play to start the Horned Frogs’ five-play drive, Max Duggan found a wide-open Derius Davis for a 60-yard catch and run to Georgia’s 11-yard line. Two Emari Demercado runs got the ball to the 2, at which point Duggan ran it into the end zone.

Both quarterbacks have now accounted for the two touchdowns on the ground, with the Bulldogs’ Stetson Bennett opening the scoring on a 21-yard jaunt.

By: Des Bieler

8:14 PM: Analysis from Adam Kilgore, Reporter covering national sports

Georgia’s secondary has been the Bulldogs’ largest vulnerability late in the season. Even before Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud shredded them in the semifinal, LSU passed for more than 500 yards in the SEC Championship. If Max Duggan gets time, TCU’s intricate route combinations and outside speed could open up more big plays.

8:10 PM: Georgia gets field goal for 10-0 lead

Georgia turned a fumble recovery in TCU territory into a field goal and a 10-0 lead. Bulldogs kicker Jack Podlesny nailed his attempt from 24 yards out to add to his team’s lead.

After getting the ball following the turnover, Georgia moved to the TCU 7-yard line before running back Daijun Edwards was tackled short of a first down on a reception. The Horned Frogs might be happy to simply have kept the Bulldogs out of the end zone, but TCU has some work to do on both sides of the ball to make this a game.

By: Des Bieler

8:07 PM: TCU’s run to CFP title game could be a welcome sign of things to come

Monday's night's CFP national title game at SoFi Stadium matched a blue blood (Georgia) and a playoff first-timer in TCU. With an expanded field starting in 2024, such matchups could become closer to the norm. © Ronald Martinez/Getty Images Monday's night's CFP national title game at SoFi Stadium matched a blue blood (Georgia) and a playoff first-timer in TCU. With an expanded field starting in 2024, such matchups could become closer to the norm.

It’s funny how, when big egos collide and conference commissioners, television executives and other power brokers start making wild business decisions to further corporatize college athletics, the game finds a way to tell you what it needs. TCU came at the perfect time. This game arrived just in time, with the SEC and Big Ten poised to swell into invulnerability and the College Football Playoff set to grow from four to 12 teams during the 2024 season.

This penultimate four-team playoff produced the most thrilling and highest-scoring semifinal round in its nine year-history. TCU became the first Big 12 team to participate in the championship game — not Texas or Oklahoma, who will exit for the SEC soon. Even as college football is set to become snobbier and create a higher society with super conferences, this outcome is a reminder that national championships are far more endearing when it feels like the nation actually competed for the crown.

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By: Jerry Brewer

8:05 PM: Georgia gets early fumble recovery

The first turnover of the game goes to Georgia, which recovered a TCU fumble at the Horned Frogs’ 33-yard line. TCU wide receiver Derius Davis coughed up the ball after a two-yard catch and run.

Down 7-0 already to the defending national champions, TCU might be in big trouble unless it can get a stop and curtail its mistakes.

By: Des Bieler

8:04 PM: Analysis from Adam Kilgore, Reporter covering national sports

TCU pulled the upset over Michigan largely because it made early turnovers and big plays go its way. Losing an early fumble is a disastrous development for the Frogs.

7:58 PM: Georgia gets TD and 7-0 lead on its first possession

Following a TCU punt to open the game, Georgia wasted little time getting on the board. Quarterback Stetson Bennett capped a five-play, 57-yard drive with a 21-yard touchdown run, leading to a 7-0 score in Inglewood.

Bennett completed two passes for 33 during the drive to Brock Bowers, Georgia’s star tight end who was little-used for much of the semifinal win over Ohio State.

By: Des Bieler

7:57 PM: Analysis from Adam Kilgore, Reporter covering national sports

Lot of time left. And TCU has been slow-starting at times. But the physical gap between TCU and Georgia appears vast after one possession each. The Horned Frogs stayed with Michigan’s size and speed. That may be a whole other order of magnitude tonight.

7:53 PM: TCU punts on opening possession

Getting the ball first after Georgia won the coin toss and deferred, TCU punted on a three-and-out possession.

TCU committed a false start on the game’s first play, and quarterback Max Duggan overthrew wide receiver Savion Williams after being flushed from the pocket. After a three-yard completion on second down, with a tackle on the perimeter being made by heralded nose tackle Jalen Carter, an incomplete pass on third down to Derius Davis led to a quick punt and a Georgia possession.

By: Des Bieler

7:51 PM: Analysis from Adam Kilgore, Reporter covering national sports

Underdog TCU showed zero nerves in their stirring victory over Michigan in the semifinal, but the moment seemed to get to them on their opening drive. A false start before the first snap set them back, and then Max Duggan overthrew an open wideout and skipped in an attempt on third and 12.

7:30 PM: Analysis from Adam Kilgore, Reporter covering national sports

The physical imperatives of football and the inherent advantages baked into the college version — recruiting, resources — prevent upstarts from reaching this height. But TCU’s gate-crashing is not unprecedented. The closest comparison might be the 2000 Sugar Bowl, when Michael Vick led Virginia Tech against Florida State. FSU won, 46-29, but only after Virginia Tech led after three quarters.

7:22 PM: As opponents croaked, TCU’s Hypnotoad became a viral sensation

TCU fans hold up a Hypnotoad sign during a November game in Fort Worth. (Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images) © Icon Sportswire/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images TCU fans hold up a Hypnotoad sign during a November game in Fort Worth. (Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images)

In retrospect, all of this could have been orchestrated by the Hypnotoad.

A sporadic character in Matt Groening’s animated science fiction sitcom, “Futurama,” the Hypnotoad is a toad with glowing, oscillating eyes that emits a droning hum as it hypnotizes people and animals.

The Hypnotoad was ancillary to the main characters in the show but popular enough to achieve meme fame and to inspire its own 4/20 marathon. The character first appeared on the show during a 2001 episode, but 21 years later it has penetrated the minds of TCU fans during their team’s run to Monday’s College Football Playoff championship game after the school repurposed the amphibian into a spiritual avatar alongside its official reptilian mascot, the Horned Frog.

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By: Glynn A. Hill

7:21 PM: TCU to start backup RB Emari Demercado

With starting running back Kendre Miller nursing a knee injury, TCU is giving backup Emari Demercado the start tonight.

Miller, the Horned Frogs’ leading rusher with 1,399 yards, suffered a sprained right MCL in the semifinal win over Michigan. Demercado, a senior, ably replaced him in that contest and finished it with 150 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

By: Des Bieler

7:15 PM: The star who stayed: The refreshing tale of TCU’s Quentin Johnston

TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston has 1,066 receiving yards this season despite missing time with an ankle injury. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images) © Christian Petersen/Getty Images TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston has 1,066 receiving yards this season despite missing time with an ankle injury. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

When Sonny Dykes took over as coach, he couldn’t envision mocking preseason skepticism and redirecting a crumbling football program to the national title game. He was too worried about losing the few impact players still on the team.

“When I came into the job, externally I was hearing, ‘Okay, these are four players that are really important to the program that you’ve got to get to stay here,’ ” Dykes said. “And three of the four left.”

But Quentin Johnston stayed.

That’s all that matters now. He stayed.

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By: Jerry Brewer

7:07 PM: Georgia’s Kelee Ringo had a moment in last year’s title game. He wants another.

Georgia defensive back Kelee Ringo's pick six sealed the win for the Bulldogs. (Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) © Carmen Mandato/Getty Images Georgia defensive back Kelee Ringo's pick six sealed the win for the Bulldogs. (Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES — Mere hours after the weighty second Monday of 2022 ended, probably sometime Tuesday if his memory serves, a wise 19-year-old made himself a vow: He would strive to make his own unforgettable interception more forgettable.

That might sound weird, but then so is college football, and Kelee Ringo had just entered one of its many eccentric pantheons. With a roaring 79-yard interception return with 54 seconds left, the redshirt freshman cornerback had clinched two things: Georgia’s first national championship in 41 years, by 33-18 over Alabama, and the idea that Georgian memory banks will fasten him to one play for the rest of his life.

“I wouldn’t say I dislike talking about it,” Ringo said here this weekend at yet another College Football Playoff championship media day, “but I feel like there’s much more to me than just that specific play, sir.”

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By: Chuck Culpepper

7:00 PM: An ex-Navy lacrosse player is living ‘a crazy story’ with TCU football

Johnny Hodges went from the Navy lacrosse team to a standout role for the TCU football squad. (LM Otero/AP) Johnny Hodges went from the Navy lacrosse team to a standout role for the TCU football squad. (LM Otero/AP)

LOS ANGELES — The white 4Runner, packed to its last known crannies, revved before dawn on Jan. 8, 2022, then lurched steadily out of Montgomery County, then out of Maryland, then southwest out of the remnants of a snowstorm and on toward Tennessee. A road trip had begun. An inconceivable 365 days had just started.

Father and son rode for 16 hours that first day. They listened to podcasts. They rode just as they had for all those lacrosse tournaments during Johnny Hodges’s teen years, only this time they brought him toward a college football program they barely knew and had never seen. They reached Tennessee and pointed pretty much due west.

How many college football stories end in the national championship game but start with a guy recruited to Navy to play lacrosse? The correct answer might be one. But here was Hodges, who as a Quince Orchard High midfielder was “very tough, very physical, very strong, very smart,” his prep coach, David Heiney Gonzalez, said from Maryland. “He was able to see the field very differently than a lot of other players. He would see passes in small windows. He was always two or three steps ahead.”

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By: Chuck Culpepper

6:55 PM: Stetson Bennett always had star potential. Just ask Georgia’s scout team.

Stetson Bennett has a chance to win his second national title. (Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) © Todd Kirkland/Getty Images Stetson Bennett has a chance to win his second national title. (Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

Five years ago, when the legend of Stetson Bennett remained confined to Georgia’s practice fields, only endorsements from those around him offered a glimpse into the quarterback’s potential. Those teammates may have noticed Bennett’s talent as he evaded defenders and launched deep balls downfield, but he was just a walk-on with expectations that matched his undersized frame.

During his freshman season, Bennett led the Bulldogs’ scout team, the group that helps the defensive starters prepare by mimicking each opponent. The unheralded unit features promising players who need to develop and plenty of walk-ons. Some grew up Georgia fans, and this served as their path to the roster. They hope for playing time, usually late in lopsided games or through roles on special teams, and after college, life moves on.

As the scout-team quarterback in 2017, Bennett threw passes to a wide receiver who now works in medical device sales and another who’s an actor. His tight end became an insurance broker. He operated behind a center who’s a high school assistant coach and another lineman pursuing automotive photography.

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By: Emily Giambalvo

6:50 PM: Remembering TCU’s last national title, way back in 1939

When TCU takes the field Monday against top-ranked Georgia in the College Football Playoff national championship game, the Horned Frogs — fresh off a stunning upset of Michigan — will be nearly two-touchdown underdogs. Legendary coach Dutch Meyer might have preferred it that way the last time TCU played for a national title.

“We are the favorites, and all the kids know it, and that doesn’t help,” Meyer told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram ahead of TCU’s meeting with Carnegie Tech in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2, 1939. “We have listened to a lot of softening words of praise this last month. That didn’t help our competitive spirit.”

The favored Horned Frogs didn’t let the hype go to their heads in New Orleans, overcoming a rare halftime deficit to defeat Carnegie Tech, 15-7, and capture their second national championship under Meyer in four years.

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By: Scott Allen

6:45 PM: TCU vs. Georgia betting preview: Can the Horned Frogs pull off another upset?

No. 1 Georgia (-13) vs. No. 4 TCU

Over/under total: 63.5

TCU (13-1) is a great story, and a Horned Frogs upset of Georgia (14-0) would be a boost for the image of college football, which unlike college basketball almost never sees a Cinderella win. I’m struggling to see how TCU gets to put on the glass slipper, however.

Lost in the insanity of TCU’s 51-45 win over Michigan in the CFP semifinals is the fact that nearly all the bounces went the Horned Frogs’ way: In a one-score victory, TCU had two pick-sixes and Michigan failed to score on two of its drives inside the red zone (a turnover on downs at the 10 after a dumb Wolverines trick-play call and a fumble at the 1). The fumble came one play after video review ruled that Michigan wide receiver Roman Wilson was down at the 1 after his 50-yard reception, a call deemed questionable by many who saw a clear Wilson touchdown.

Michigan outgained TCU in terms of yards per play by nearly a full yard. Even if you take away the 54-yard run by the Wolverines’ Donovan Edwards on the game’s first play from scrimmage, Michigan still outgained the Horned Frogs in yards per play. Now you’re asking that TCU defense to stop a Georgia offense that averaged more than nine yards every time it snapped the ball against Ohio State, whose defense has more talent and size than the Horned Frogs? That seems like a big ask.

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By: Matt Bonesteel

6:40 PM: TCU, the unlikely national championship finalist, is done being belittled

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Belittling and its close cousin, sneering, hold down such cherished places in the depraved lore of college football. They thrive in an entrenched caste system that long since makes people babble in terms such as “blue blood” and “not a blue blood.” Wherever would we be without them?

Now TCU and Georgia comprise the final two of the 2022-23 season, which means they’ll play Jan. 9 outside Los Angeles, which means Georgia awaits eight more days of getting feted as a dynasty of recruiting and debated as a dynasty of football, while TCU awaits eight more days of getting patted on its horned head about what a nice job it has done and what senseless magic it has woven.

“And let me just say this,” pointed out Sonny Dykes, the coach at TCU. “We know we’re going to hear [the belittling] again. It’s not going to stop now. You know what I’m saying? We’re going to play again in 10 days, and we’re going to hear the same crap for 10 days that we heard leading up to this ballgame. We’ve got to do what we did this game. We’ve got to answer that criticism and show up and do what we’re supposed to do. If we think that’s going away, I think you guys all know that’s not. That’s just the way it is.”

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By: Chuck Culpepper

6:35 PM: How Georgia made it to the championship game

ATLANTA — Stetson Bennett’s 10-yard pass to Adonai Mitchell lifted top-seeded Georgia ahead with 54 seconds to go. The Buckeyes then drove down the field in search of a game-winning field goal attempt, but Noah Ruggles’s 50-yard kick was wide left, sealing the Bulldogs’ 42-41 Peach Bowl win on Saturday night. After the miss, Georgia’s celebration could begin. Bennett raced onto the field with his arms outstretched, overcome with joy.

Chasing a second consecutive national title, Bennett authored the ferocious rally for the Bulldogs, who entered the fourth quarter of this College Football Playoff matchup with their title hopes fading. Georgia scored 18 points in the final period, and its defense held firm. The Bulldogs kept Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud from becoming the game’s headliner with late heroics and instead forced the long field goal that missed.

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By: Emily Giambalvo

6:31 PM: How TCU made it to the championship game

GLENDALE, Ariz. — That stodgy old College Football Playoff, long the province of kingdoms, apex predators and chalk, finally hatched itself a darling Saturday. Somehow, it will send to its Los Angeles finale one vivid batch of purple Frogs. How March Madness of it.

Never in the previous eight years of semifinals rich in the humdrum had an underdog upended all known thoughts as did the Texas Christian Horned Frogs in their madcap 51-45 deprogramming of Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl national semifinal. Now TCU, not even close to ranked at season’s outset, with an enrollment of only 12,273, and hardly fancied even in its state full of football snobs, will play in the national championship game against Georgia.

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By: Chuck Culpepper


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