No. 3 TCU already sprung the biggest upset in College Football Playoff history, beating No. 2 Michigan 51-45 as an eight-point underdog.
“I thought they’d win that game,” one coordinator who faced TCU in 2022 said.
Can TCU do it again? The Horned Frogs are 13-point underdogs to Georgia in Monday’s CFP National Championship, the biggest underdog in a national title game since the advent of the BCS in 1998. The doubts about the Frogs’ credentials and their very presence in the game aren’t going anywhere.
“When you look at the Michigan game, (the Wolverines) frickin’ blew it. How many opportunities early did they squander? And not only that, they did stupid s—, like running reverses on the goal line,” one SEC assistant said. “You’re Michigan. Run the damn ball. They got too cute and too fancy. They gave that game away.”
The Frogs were picked to finish seventh in the Big 12 after going 5-7 a year ago and now have a chance to capture the program’s first national title since 1938 — all under first-year coach Sonny Dykes.
“Georgia’s gonna boat race ’em,” said one assistant coach who faced the Bulldogs earlier this season.
But is there a path to victory? And does Goliath (and defending champion) Georgia have a weakness the Frogs can exploit?
The Athletic spoke with nine people, including head coaches, coordinators and position coaches who have faced Georgia or TCU for their thoughts on what lies ahead in Los Angeles for the national championship game. They were granted anonymity for competitive reasons and to allow for a more unfiltered look at the matchup from the perspective of college football coaches.
When TCU has the ball
TCU has its own offensive identity under coordinator Garrett Riley, but one coach noted that when he studied the Horned Frogs this season, he saw that much of what they emphasized changed from week to week.
“We call them schemers, offensive coaches, and all they do is watch things opponents have done to you and they try to repeat them,” the coordinator said. “That’s what TCU does.”
He called out one example: TCU was waiting for Michigan to bring a corner blitz that it often utilized during the season. Quarterback Max Duggan recognized it immediately, saw the safety failed to rotate and found receiver Quentin Johnston for an easy 32-yard gain instead of a blindside sack.