The College Football Playoff championship game is on Monday night and Ohio State fans are having a difficult relationship with the final game of the season. The sting of the 42-41 loss in the Peach Bowl is still a little too painful for most, but nobody wants to admit just how football-crazy they are and that they will probably watch the game.
Ryan Day’s Buckeyes can ever-so-close to winning that game, seeing a 14-point margin disappear along with top offensive playmaker Marvin Harrison Jr. during the game. There are a lot of ‘single plays’ that fans will focus in on, but if only one more thing goes right along the way, we are likely writing a different story from Los Angeles rather than Central Ohio.
But what’s past is past, and the Buckeyes are one of 129 Division I-FBS teams not playing at SoFi Stadium on Monday night, watching along with the rest of us as college football prepares to crown its national champion.
It got us to thinking however about this match-up, the game that no Ohio State fan is going to watch, right? Is this game as lopsided as the oddsmakers say that it is going to be? Georgia opened as nearly a two-touchdown favorite and as of Monday late afternoon the line has moved from minus-12.5 to minus-13.5 in favor of the Bulldogs.
Nobody is going to read a position-by-position breakdown of a game that does not include Ohio State and one that does include a team that managed to get by the Buckeyes some way, somehow.
Instead, we will look at a few fast factoids that may mean absolutely nothing or could mean a great deal once shoe meets leather, and the 2023 CFP Championship Game gets underway.
How do tcu and osu stack up?
Ohio State and TCU do not play one other and we have never bought into the transitive property when it comes to college football. What happened one week will not always carry into the next week and what Ohio State had a month to plan for may not be what TCU has a week-plus to prepare for when facing Georgia.
According to just the base stats, the Buckeyes were better in scoring offense, passing offense, rushing offense (shocking, right?), scoring defense, rushing defense, and passing yards allowed. The only stat where TCU holds an edge is pass efficiency defense, which does mean a thing or two, but the difference was not drastic as both teams were within four points of one another.
TCU did make it through its regular season unblemished where the Buckeyes tripped up in the final week. While TCU did fall in its conference championship game, the Buckeyes did not participate in one and if we are talking about team versus team, TCU did win against the only common opponent, Michigan, where the Buckeyes fell at home.
The stats from the season mean little at this point of the game. The debate can be had if the Big Ten or Big 12 was better this year (the Big 12 was a deeper conference in our opinion, shorter on top-end teams however) and what those numbers mean.
Don’t mess with a ‘hot team’ and TCU appears to be hot, even if it is just a one-game winning streak. Nobody gave the Horned Frogs much of a chance in the Fiesta Bowl against No. 2 seeded Michigan and while the final score was close, TCU really exerted its will throughout most of the game.
Georgia has been in this stage as recently as last year and as a roster full of players who know what it takes to win in a championship game, but TCU doesn’t know what it doesn’t know and maybe it doesn’t know that it is supposed to fall like a lead balloon.
Both teams have played through 14 games, against great teams and not-so-great teams and everything in between.
The Horned Frogs have had to play into the 4th quarter of games much more than the Bulldogs have, but Ohio State took UGA into the waning minutes of the 4th quarter of the Peach Bowl. TCU had to hang on as Michigan made one last desperate push to avoid the upset.
We have all looked at TCU as this great comeback team and the numbers do show that as TCU has scored 148 points in 4th quarters of games. That is the same total as TCU has scored in first quarters, when plays may be more scripted, and teams have not had a chance to make adjustments. Both the 1st and 4th have been good to TCU.
UGA has allowed just 30 points in the first quarter of its games and Ohio State scored seven of those points. It is by far the most stingy quarter for the UGA defense so a quick start by the Horned Frogs could be a good thing as this is a quarter where UGA does not give up much. If you want to get at UGA, attack them in the 2nd, that is the most they have given up 68 in total, but that number also was strongly affected by Ohio State and its 21 points in the 2nd frame of the Peach Bowl.
UGA is a tremendous 2nd quarter team on offense, scoring 181 points in the second frame, 44 more points than in any other quarter. That does not bode well for TCU which has allowed 106 points in the 2nd quarter, its highest defensive output of the season, but the 4th has not been great either with 98 points allowed. For a team that gets pushed to the brink as often as TCU does, the numbers show why as this team has had a difficult time closing out halves and games.
odds and ends
You would think that the No. 1 ranked team in the College Football Playoff would have some huge edge in championship games, well, think again. The higher-ranked team holds a record of just 2-6 in CFP Championship Games while the No. 1 seed is just 2-4 in these games with 2019 LSU being the first No. 1 seed to breakthrough and win the CFP tournament.
The No. 3 seed is just 1-3 in these games but that lone win by a 3 seed happened last year when UGA defeated No. 1 Alabama in Indianapolis.
It has long been talked about that it takes a lot of points to win a national championship game in the CFP-era and in just CFP Championship Games, the winner has scored just shy of 40 points per game (39.875) while the losing team has been held to just 24.6 points per game, creating a two-touchdown-plus margin in these games.
The first four CFP Championship Games were each decided by seven points or less but the last four have been decided by an average margin of 22 points per game.
And finally, when the Peach and Fiesta Bowls are the semifinals sites, the winner of the Peach Bowl is 1-1 in championship games with this being the third cycle for all of the New Year’s Six Bowls to serve as semifinals sites.
The Sugar and Cotton Bowl winners are 2-1 in championship games while the Rose and Orange Bowl winners are just 1-2. Ohio State’s lone CFP Championship was launched by a Sugar Bowl win in 2014. Ohio State was not able to repeat the feat in 2020 when the Buckeyes would go on to lose to Rose Bowl-winning Alabama.