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CFP National Championship Preview: TCU defense vs. Georgia offense

The Horned Frogs will be tasked with containing a unit led by Heisman Trophy finalist Stetson Bennett, who threw for nearly 400 yards and three touchdowns against Ohio State.

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Texas Christian at Michigan Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

TCU’s bent-don’t-break defense delivered crucial stops during the fourth quarter of the team’s 51-45 win over Michigan in the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl on Saturday. Despite conceding 527 total yards and 25 first downs to the Wolverines, TCU generated three turnovers including a goal-line fumble that killed a potential scoring drive. The Horned Frogs also stepped up on later downs, holding Michigan to a 3-for-13 conversion rate on third downs and an 0-for-2 conversion rate on fourth downs. The result yielded a victory over the Wolverines and a berth in the College Football Playoff National Championship against top-ranked Georgia.

The Bulldogs took a shootout over Ohio State in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, scoring a 42-41 victory after Buckeye kicker Noah Ruggles missed a potential game-winning 50-yard field goal in the final seconds of the fourth quarter. Heisman Trophy finalist Stetson Bennett enjoyed arguably his best individual performance of the season for the undefeated Bulldogs (14-0), completing 23-of-34 passes for 398 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. Bennett’s Peach Bowl effort came after a dominant showing in the SEC Championship, where the senior quarterback went 23-for-29 with 274 passing yards and four touchdowns as Georgia torched LSU 50-30 to remain the No. 1 team in the nation.

Bennett has thrown for 3,823 yards with 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions while completing 68.1 percent of his passes. Georgia features three rushers out of the backfield including Kenny McIntosh (779 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns), Daijuan Edwards (739 yards and seven touchdowns) and Kendall Milton (559 rushing yards and seven touchdowns). Georgia’s breakout performer during the Peach Bowl was wide receiver Arian Smith, who caught three balls for 129 yards and a touchdown. Smith entered the game having recorded only three receptions for 66 yards during the season. Tight end Brock Bowers (790 receiving yards and six touchdowns) and wide receiver Ladd McConkey (674 receiving yards and five touchdowns) are the top pass-catching threats for the Bulldogs.

TCU and Georgia each feature top-10 scoring offenses in the nation, with the Horned Frogs ranked third (41.1 points per game) and the Bulldogs ranked ninth (39.4 points per game). Both teams also have top-25 rushing attacks, with Georgia ranked 22nd at 201.86 yards per game and TCU ranked 19th at 204.50 yards per game. The Bulldogs have the edge in the passing game, ranking 15th with 293.0 yards per game while the Horned Frogs sit in 29th with 269.6 yards per game. Perhaps Georgia’s greatest strength on offense has been in the trenches, where the Bulldog offensive line has allowed only nine sacks all season, which ranks tied for fourth with Utah among the best units in the nation. Georgia is also the third-best ball possession team in the nation, ranking third in total time possessed (467:16).

While the Bulldogs feature one of the best red-zone defenses in the nation, Georgia currently boasts the top-ranked red-zone offense, which has scored on 97.4 percent of all red-zone drives this season. Georgia’s 77 red-zone attempts are the most in the nation, but the team’s 23 red-zone field goals are also leading the nation. The Bulldogs are excellent on later downs, ranking seventh in the nation with a 49.70 percent third-down conversion rate and first with a 85.71 percent (12-for-14) fourth-down conversion rate. Left tackle and potential first-round draft choice Broderick Jones anchors Georgia’s stout offensive line.