The Road to the College Football National Championship

Josh Scott


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The college football season started with 131 teams from all around the country this year. As the season progressed, the number of teams competing for a spot in the College Football Playoffs kept shrinking. By the end of the year, it was clear who the four teams that were able to compete for a national championship were. The playoff committee selected the Georgia Bulldogs, Ohio State Buckeyes, TCU Horned Frogs, and Michigan Wolverines.

The First Semifinal Game

On December 31, 2022, Michigan took on TCU in The Fiesta Bowl. Michigan represented the Big Ten Conference, while TCU came out of the Big 12 Conference. This was the Horned Frogs’ first-ever College Football Playoffs appearance. They were led by first-year head coach Sonny Dykes and quarterback Max Duggan. The story of Max Duggan is interesting because even though he has been at TCU for years now, he was the backup quarterback to start this season. The starter Chandler Morris got injured at the beginning of the season, allowing Duggan to take back the starting job. On the other hand, Michigan was led by legendary football coach Jim Harbaugh who has been there since 2015. This year, Michigan’s quarterback was a sophomore phenom, JJ McCarthy. He was one of the top players in the nation coming out of high school. As a team, the Wolverines were considered a top 5 defense in the country. Unfortunately, they didn’t play like one in this game. 

TCU jumped out to an early lead and was in control for the whole first half. Michigan was known to be a second-half team, and this theme continued when they started to put up some points in the third quarter. This continued to be a game of cat and mouse. Michigan cut the lead to 6 with about three minutes left but couldn’t get the comeback win. As a key takeaway, TCU won the game due to their ability to run the ball insanely well against an elite defensive line. They also took advantage of Michigan’s miscues.

The Second Semifinal Game

Later that night, Ohio State took on the defending national champions, the Georgia Bulldogs. They played each other in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. The game was considered by many to be the battle of the historic college football powerhouses. Georgia was led by head coach Kirby Smart and quarterback Stetson Bennett. Similar to Duggan, Bennett had a crazy backstory. He started as a quarterback in junior college before eventually taking a walk-on scholarship with the Bulldogs. Then, he initially won his starting job as one of the highest-rated football recruits of all time. From the other sideline, the Ohio State Buckeyes were led by head coach Ryan Day and projected top 10 NFL draft pick CJ Stroud. Stroud had big shoes to fill from Justin Fields, and he’s done quite well. He’s thrown over 40 touchdowns and six interceptions in his two years as a starter. 

Unlike the first game, this one went back and forth from start to finish. Ohio State would score a couple touchdowns in a row, and then Georgia would do the same thing right back. The Buckeyes number one offensive weapon Marvin Harrison Jr went down with a concussion in the middle of the second half while they were in the lead by two touchdowns. This allowed Georgia to get back into the game leading to them scoring a touchdown with under a minute left in the fourth quarter. They took the lead 42-41, and that would be the final score.

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The National Championship

The College Football Playoffs National Championship was played between the Georgia Bulldogs and the TCU Horned Frogs. There wasn’t that much to talk about for this game because it was a pretty ugly one. The championship did not live up to the hype of the two semifinal games. Georgia scored early, and TCU got a touchdown to make it 10-7, but they would never score again. At halftime the game was already over with Georgia being up 38-7. Then, they were up by 45 after three quarters and won the game 65-7. The best skill position player in the game was Georgia tight end Brock Bowers who is considered a top 2 TE in the country and the number one underclassman. He finished with 7 catches for 152 yards and a touchdown. This game completed the rare back to back undefeated national champion feat.

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