Sunday afternoon, the College Football Playoff committee settled with the Georgia Bulldogs, Michigan Wolverines, Texas Christian Horned Frogs and the Ohio State Buckeyes as this year’s participants. Georgia will take on Ohio State on Saturday, December 31 at 8:00 PM. Kicking off the day, Michigan and TCU will face off at the Fiesta Bowl at 4:00 PM.
It is the first time the Big Ten has multiple participants in college football’s premier tournament. For Ohio State, head coach Ryan Day will have an opportunity to clean up the big mess that was caused by a humiliating defeat at home against Michigan on the final day of the season. Day’s record in Columbus is 45-5, however, two of his five losses have occurred against Michigan.
“I can just tell you that our team is very excited to be in this position, to be in the CFP,” said Ohio State head coach Ryan Day. “It’s been an emotional week here, but in our facility today, going to see our name pop up there, a lot of juice, a lot of energy. We’re looking for a great month of preparation and a great week down in Atlanta.”
The last time Ohio State played the University of Georgia was in the Citrus Bowl on January 1, 1993. Ohio State’s quarterback was Kirk Herbstreit and the Bulldogs trotted out Eric Zeier as their signal caller. Georgia won that day 21-14 due to the brilliant rushing performance by Garrison Hearst.
Hearst had 163 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Presently, Georgia averages 207.7 rushing yards per game.
With the semifinal at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in downtown Atlanta, a mere 71 miles from their home, Sanford Stadium, it would be reasonable to believe the Bulldogs would have home-field advantage. A similar vibe took place when the LSU Tigers hosted the CFP National Championship game at the Louisiana Superdome in 2020. Yes, at the time, the Clemson Tigers fan base was represented nicely, however, the atmosphere inside was electrified by the LSU fans. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart acknowledged it during his media availability Sunday afternoon but didn’t claim the inherent home field advantage would be a factor.
“I certainly think it’s great to be in Atlanta,” said Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart. “It feels that way because in the rotation it was Atlanta’s year. We certainly have gone and played in the Rose Bowl out in California, and we’ve also been to Miami to play in semifinals. I know Ohio State has been all over as well.
Once you get to the venue, it’s different than when you’re coming in for a game and kids have been in classes and they just fly in for the game. It’s different when you’re there for a whole week. We’ll practice at Mercedes Benz. They’ll practice at Mercedes-Benz. It’s not like you’re going to walk in there and not have seen the place.”
The Georgia Bulldogs have been installed as a 6.5 point favorite over the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Meanwhile, the Michigan Wolverines return to the College Football Playoff for the second straight year. Michigan was able to put away the Purdue Boilermakers 43-22 to earn back-to-back Big Ten titles. Michigan finished the season 13-0. Throughout the 2022 campaign, the Wolverines weren’t tested much. In their biggest matchup, they blew away Ohio State 45-23 in a performance that solidified their ranking.
Texas Christian (TCU) is making their first appearance in the College Football Playoff. The Horned Frogs lost in overtime to the Kansas State Wildcats 31-28 in the Big 12 Conference Championship Game on Saturday. However, with only one loss, the Committee felt TCU’s 12-1 regular season was more than suitable to remain third in the final rankings.
TCU Head Coach Sonny Dykes nearly led the Horned Frogs to an undefeated record in his first season with a brand of physical football buoyed by great quarterback play by Mike Duggan. Last year, TCU finished with only five wins, ultimately forcing longtime head coach Gary Patterson out of Fort Worth. Sunday afternoon, Dykes described Michigan as a physical football team, even without star running back Blake Corum.
“The little bit I saw, looked like a very physical football team, Dykes said. “I think that certainly at the end of the game, they were very physically imposing last night against Purdue. Saw the quarterback J.J. McCarthy make a ton of plays, improvised outside the pocket. Was really impressed with the things that he can do, what kind of athlete he was, and how accurate he was moving outside of the pocket. And they just looked like a very, very good football team.”