This New Year’s Eve, we’re set to get a double-dose of College Football Playoff action, with back-to-back games of the Michigan Wolverines vs. the TCU Horned Frogs and the Georgia Bulldogs vs. Ohio State Buckeyes set to determine who will compete for the second-to-last playoff title under the four-team format.
With Florida State having ended the season as Cheez-It Bowl champions in the most watched game of the entire bowl season heading into this weekend, it’s time to judge from outside of the club as the final four teams fight it out for a spot in the national championship on January 9th in Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium.
Below, you’ll find some preview notes from our SB Nation sister sites as well as game odds and how-to-watch information.
2022 Fiesta Bowl: TCU vs. Michigan
From Frogs O’War:
The first Texas school to reach the playoff, TCU will face the No. 2 ranked Michigan Wolverines in the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl, which will kick off on Dec. 31 in Glendale, Arizona at 3 p.m. central time. The Horned Frogs are seeking their first national championship since 1938, while the Wolverines are aiming to secure their first national championship since 1997.
College football fans and writers are rarely in full agreement about any subject, however when it comes to projecting the result of the Fiesta Bowl College Football Playoff Semifinal between #2 Michigan Wolverines and #3 TCU Horned Frogs, there is near unanimous consensus: Big Blue is expected to wipe the State Farm Stadium field with the Frogs. DraftKings Sportsbook has TCU as a 7.5 point underdog, with Michigan as a 3-to-1 favorite (-305) to win the game outright. The “Nobody Believes In Us” motivational theory can often be used put the chip on a team’s shoulder to go out and prove the doubters wrong - even when those doubters may be non-existent. In TCU’s case for Saturday’s Fiesta Bowl, this mantra rings true, as nobody believes the Frogs will defeat the Wolverines and advance to the National Championship.
From Maize N Brew:
With the clock quickly approaching midnight on New Year’s Eve, the Michigan Wolverines ended 2021 with a disappointment, getting blown out by eventual the national champions in their first ever appearance in the College Football Playoff. While the season was unquestionably a massive success, that semifinal loss left the team hungry for something more.
365 days later, the Wolverines are somehow back in the same position after working all year to get another shot at this opportunity. Again the second-overall seed, this time it is Michigan who is the big favorite and is expected to defeat the No. 3 TCU Horned Frogs and set up a big rematch in the championship game, regardless of who shows up on the other side.
All season long Michigan has shown its ability to win games in whatever way is needed, and there has not been a Saturday where it felt like the Wolverines were the lesser team. This team is very self-assured and very well-coached, and in the postseason those factors can be the difference. Many of the Wolverines were on this stage last year, and that experience will help this year go differently.
TCU is a legit opponent who has experienced a great season of its own, with a similar second-half improvement trend. The difference, though, is that the Frogs have often had to claw their way back after falling behind, and when considering how they match up against Michigan’s run game, this game does not set up well for them to make a big comeback.
The Wolverines should feel really good about their ability to score and hopeful about the defense’s chances to record more wins than losses. Duggan is going to swing for the fences on Saturday, but there is a real opportunity to force more double plays than homers. If the defense can rattle him a bit whether through pressure or scheme, Michigan is going to have a great night.
Saturday, December 31
WatchESPN, ESPN App
Current lines via DraftKings
Michigan -305, TCU +255
2022 Peach Bowl: Georgia vs. Ohio State
From Dawg Sports:
Georgia remains pretty unscathed by opt outs and transfers. Reserve defensive lineman Bill Norton announced he’d be entering the transfer portal on December 7th and has already committed to Arizona. Tight end Arik Gilbert also recently confirmed his exit.
But neither player had seen significant snaps this season. Gilbert finished with 2 catches in 3 games. Norton played in all 13 games prior to his transfer, but managed only 3 tackles and no sacks or quarterback pressures.
On the injury front the Red and Black are just about as healthy as they’ve been all year, but that still means some key question marks. Ladd McConkey re-aggravated a knee injury in the SEC Championship Game, and while Kirby Smart was “hopeful” about his return on Monday, McConkey wasn’t on the field today during the media viewing period at practice earlier this week. Also absent in practice was starting left tackle Warren McClendon, who went down with a leg injury after being rolled up in the SEC title game.
Georgia should also have AD Mitchell back full strength, which provides a nice insurance policy if McConkey is at all limited. After playing a key role in Georgia’s 2021 national title run Mitchell missed most of 2022 before returning to play 15 snaps against LSU. Still Mitchell hasn’t caught a pass in game action since the September 10th home opener against Samford. It also remains to be seen if he is back in game condition.
From Land-Grant Holy-Land:
The Buckeyes have had over a month to stew over their 45-23 loss to Michigan in Columbus at the end of November, and hope to take out their frustrations on the Bulldogs.
Does Ohio State have the talent to beat Georgia? There’s no question the Buckeyes do. What is unknown is if the Buckeyes have the coaching and mental toughness to beat the Bulldogs. Kirby Smart has proven himself to be one of the best coaches in America, while Ryan Day is facing intense questioning after losing to Michigan two years in a row.
What the Buckeyes need to do is use the loss to Michigan as fuel to silence their doubters. Not many are giving Ohio State a chance in this game after how the Wolverines were able to hit so many big plays last month in Columbus. It’s not like Ohio State hasn’t been in this position before, as back in the first College Football Playoff they were able to shock an Alabama team that was more than a touchdown favorite.
What remains to be seen is how Day and his staff used the last month to address issues and prepare for what they’ll see from Georgia. Even though Georgia won last year’s, it’s not like Ohio State is unfamiliar with the spotlight and pressure that comes with a game like this. When he is coaching loose, there aren’t many better at coaching that Day. The problem is it feels like Day overthinks himself a lot and gets inside his own head with some of his play calls.
While it’s obvious Day needs to cede the play-calling, it’s not going to happen before next year, if at all, so hopefully he has used the last month to get a better handle on what he wants his offense to do.
What fun is it to write 3,000-plus words on this game if we think Ohio State is going to destroyed by the Bulldogs? The Buckeyes play with a chip on their shoulder in this game after hearing over the last month of how fraudulent they are. What the Buckeyes have to do is keep Georgia guessing, which will mean the offensive line is going to have to find a way to open up some holes for the running backs against the talented defensive line of the Bulldogs. If they are able to do that, it will make Georgia hesitate a bit and give Stroud more time to survey the defense.
In a back-and-forth game, the Buckeyes know how to close out the game, which is something Missouri didn’t have talent to do against the Bulldogs.
Saturday, December 31
WatchESPN, ESPN App
Current lines via DraftKings
Georgia -255, OSU +215