The primary question for many around the country ahead of Monday’s College Football Playoff championship game isn’t about whether TCU can pull off an historic upset, but if the Horned Frogs can cover.
Top-ranked Georgia (14-0) was installed as a near-two touchdown favorite shortly after rallying past Ohio State 42-41 to win the Peach Bowl in the second semifinal. That set up a showdown in Inglewood, Calif., against TCU (13-1), which had upset second-ranked Michigan 51-45 earlier in the day in the Fiesta Bowl.
While the Bulldogs are seeking to further build on their growing dynasty with a second consecutive title, the Horned Frogs are trying to win their first national championship since 1938.
Georgia opened as a 13.5-point favorite at BetMGM. The line has since shifted to 13 with TCU backed by 78 percent of the spread-line bets and 79 percent of the money. The Frogs’ +400 moneyline to win the game outright has also moved to +375 with the public backing them with 88 and 78 percent of the action, respectively.
Meanwhile, bettors at BetRivers remain bullish on the Bulldogs winning the game, backing Georgia’s -480 moneyline with 62 percent of the bets and 64 percent of the money. However, the 12-point spread has drawn heavy action to the underdog, with TCU backed by 72 percent of the bets and 57 percent of the money.
The public is also expecting a high-scoring affair after the two semifinal games averaged 89.5 total points.
The Over/Under for the championship game opened at 61.5 points at BetMGM but has shifted to 62.5 with the Over drawing 86 percent of the bets and 90 percent of the money. The 62-point total at BetMGM has seen the Over backed by 81 and 82 percent of the action, respectively.
TCU has embraced the underdog role since opening the season unranked, with coach Sonny Dykes continually standing up for the Big 12 conference throughout the Horned Frogs’ run to the title game.
“You’ve got to be on your best, week in and week out,” Dykes said in noting that Big 12 teams don’t have the scheduling flexibility to schedule non-conference games late in the season. “And it takes a toll on your team. It really does. It’s difficult to get through that gauntlet of nine consecutive conference games against quality opponents.”
The Horned Frogs have knocked off one Goliath in taking down Michigan. They now have their sights set on Georgia, which had to overcome a 14-point deficit entering the fourth quarter as New Year’s Day approached.
The Bulldogs had to survive a missed 50-yard field goal with three seconds remaining to set up their date against the Horned Frogs.
“If we want any chance at winning a national championship, we have to play a lot better football than we played tonight,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said after the game. “We’ve got to keep the resiliency and composure along with us.”
According to BetRivers data, Georgia has covered the spread in each of its past four games against top-3 ranked Associated Press teams. However, the Bulldogs have failed to cover the spread in three of their past four games overall.
Meanwhile, TCU is 3-0 straight up this season as a betting underdog and eight of the Horned Frogs’ past nine games against Top 10 teams have gone Over the total points line. The sportsbook also reported the longest odds on a futures bet taken on a TCU national championship victory was +15000.
“Now we’ve got to take care of business,” Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett said after the Ohio State victory. “We’ve got to prepare. We’ve got nine days or whatever to play a really good TCU team. So we’ve got to prepare our butts off.”
–Field Level Media