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Georgia players aren’t among those overlooking TCU

Jan 7, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Georgia Bulldogs offensive lineman Sedrick Van Pran (63) talks to media on media day before the 2023 CFP National Championship game at Los Angeles Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

While top-ranked Georgia pursues its second straight national championship, some observers have pegged the College Football Playoff title game as a mismatch.

Somehow, No. 3 TCU is being viewed as a unworthy team that crashed the party despite its 13-1 record and will be hard-pressed to give the Bulldogs a challenge in Monday’s championship game at Inglewood, Calif.

Georgia center Sedrick Van Pran keeps hearing that narrative and wants to quickly shut it down.

“I think the truth is that TCU is here for a reason,” Van Pran said during Saturday’s media festivities. “They’re one of the best teams in college football, and I think that’s why they’re in this game.

“I know everyone wants to act like they’re this myth or this Cinderella story, but the truth of the matter is that they’re one of the best teams in college football. So they’re there for a reason. So we’re taking it like that.”

Bulldogs safety Chris Smith has been watching film of TCU star quarterback Max Duggan so he sees a player — and a team — that deserves all the respect that the Bulldogs (14-0) receive.

“Me personally, I don’t feel like there’s any underdogs in this game just ’cause both teams are obviously great teams,” Smith said. “If not, they wouldn’t be in this position.

“Like I said, I know on Monday we’re going to get their best shot and they going to get ours. It’s going to be a great game.”

Georgia linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson only sees a team that is a real threat. He said he feels his squad needs to deliver a supreme effort inside SoFi Stadium.

“I got respect for everybody. I got respect for their whole team,” Dumas-Johnson said. “They earned their way here just like how we earned our way here at the end of the day. We going to put their body on the line to win our last game.”

Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart has swiped away at that narrative multiple times since his squad edged Ohio State and TCU beat Michigan in the semifinals to set up Monday’s date.

Smart also has been regularly asked about repeating as champions. The Bulldogs beat Alabama 33-18 in last season’s final for their first national title since 1980 when Herschel Walker led the way.

This season, the chatter about repeating has been there throughout the season — from the season-opening 49-3 thrashing of Oregon and growing even more after a 27-13 victory over then-No. 1 Tennessee in early November that was nowhere as close as the final score.

All along, Smart said he has not once used the word “repeat” around the team.

“No. I mean, it’s never about that,” Smart said. “I mean, we’ve never said ‘repeat’ or ‘defend.’ We hunt, and for us we want to be staying on the aggressive side of things.

“Again, I’ve been a part of so many years where I came off a win, that that wasn’t the narrative. This team is not that team. Next year’s team won’t be this year’s team. So they’re completely independent of each other, just like every game is independent of the previous.

“We don’t dwell in the rearview mirror. We try to focus on what’s ahead.”

–Field Level Media