Bowl season is winding down.
However the two greatest video games of the season are approaching kickoff.
Listed below are the ten storylines that would decide who will meet within the Nationwide Championship recreation.
Table of Contents
TCU (12-1) vs. Michigan (13-0)
Can Max Duggan and firm discover success towards the Michigan protection?
Heisman finalist Max Duggan led one of many nation’s prime offenses this season. TCU averaged 40.3 factors per recreation this season, rating sixth within the nation, they usually averaged 473 yards of offense per recreation, rating fifteenth. For his half Duggan ranked seventh within the nation with 9.0 Yards per Try, sixth within the nation in Adjusted Yards per Try, and he threw 30 landing passes towards simply 4 interceptions?
The issue? Duggan and the TCU offense haven’t seen a protection like Michigan’s but this season. The very best protection the Horned Frogs confronted this yr, at the least by way of scoring protection, was Kansas State, who tied for the Nineteenth-best scoring protection within the FBS, permitting 20.03 factors per recreation.
TCU beat the Wildcats in the course of the common season, however misplaced to them within the Large 12 Championship recreation.
Michigan? The Wolverines enter the Fiesta Bowl with one of many prime scoring defenses within the nation, permitting simply 13.38 factors per recreation, tying the Wolverines with Air Pressure for fourth-best within the nation. Michigan additionally allowed simply 277.1 yards per recreation, third-best within the nation.
TCU followers on the lookout for a silver lining will level to Iowa State. The Cyclones ranked sixth within the nation, permitting simply 285.6 yards per recreation this yr. However again in November, the Horned Frogs hung 62 factors on Iowa State, and gained 377 yards of offense within the 62-14 rout.
How does the Michigan secondary maintain up towards Quentin Johnson?
To not get too far forward of ourselves, however the 2023 NFL Draft class at huge receiver is perhaps thinner on the prime than we now have seen in years previous. However a receiver that may very well be close to the highest of not simply the receiver class, however your complete class, is TCU’s Quintin Johnson. Johnson is a prototypical X receiver, with the scale, athleticism and ball abilities to be a featured goal in an NFL offense.
You see these traits on this landing towards Kansas State, as he run a vertical route alongside the left sideline towards a press-aligned defender:
Johnson will get in control instantly, placing the cornerback in chase mode. Because the defender tries in useless to catch up, the receiver accelerates away from the protection for the landing.
How may Michigan deal with Johnson? A solution may very well be discovered of their win over Ohio State. In that recreation, the Wolverines secondary was examined by Marvin Harrison Jr., the proficient Buckeyes receiver. Harrison additionally has the mix of dimension, route-running, pace, and ball abilities very best for an X receiver function on the subsequent degree.
Harrison caught 7 passes for 120 yards and a landing towards Michigan, so it’s not just like the Wolverines utterly saved him quiet. However they discovered a method to restrict the harm by means of a mixture of off-coverage, and press-man. In addition they used a couple of totally different defenders towards Harrison, as a substitute of getting a devoted cornerback journey with him. Each freshman Will Johnson and senior D.J. Turner snaps towards him, as did Mike Sainristil when Harrison aligned within the slot.
That is perhaps one thing to observe Saturday: How usually the Horned Frogs use Johnson out of the slot. The Buckeyes had success utilizing Harrison out of the slot towards Michigan, and as for Johnson, he had 68 snaps this season out of a slot alignment. That features lengthy touchdowns towards each West Virginia and Kansas.
Can TCU cease the run?
Any group that has confronted Michigan this season has gone into the sport with a singular focus: Stopping the run. The Wolverines sport probably the greatest speeding assaults within the nation, averaging 5.64 yards per carry — rating fourth within the nation — and 243 yards per recreation, rating fifth.
So whereas groups have tried to decelerate that speeding assault, they’ve met little success within the try.
Nonetheless, TCU head coach Sonny Dykes made it clear lately, that stopping the run is their concentrate on the defensive facet of the soccer. The coach instructed Colin Cowherd that the Michigan run recreation is their chief concern:
“Yeah, actually, I believe all people that performs Michigan in all probability is just a little bit involved with that.
“They’ve received a extremely good offensive line — I believe it’s the energy of their soccer group. They’re massive up entrance on each traces of scrimmage. They’ve received three tight ends that may bounce into some 13 personnel and do some fascinating issues from a run-game perspective; they’ll play with six, seven offensive linemen at totally different occasions. So you may inform that they wish to run the ball.”
The Wolverines throw so much at a protection within the working recreation, from zone designs to hole and energy ideas that take a look at the attention self-discipline of the linebackers, and the energy and energy of the gamers alongside the defensive entrance. Plus, they carry the Joe Moore Award winners — given to the nation’s greatest offensive line — to the desk.
Discovering a method to decelerate the Michigan run recreation can be an enormous activity for TCU.
However right here’s the factor.
Doing that’s simply a part of the battle.
In the event that they do, will J.J. McCarthy make them pay?
Ohio State stopped the run recreation Michigan run recreation within the first half.
The Buckeyes held Michigan to only ten speeding yards within the first half of their assembly. However the Buckeyes led by simply three on the halftime break, as a result of Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy created some massive performs within the passing recreation.
The primary was a third and 9 catch-and-run landing from Cornelius Johnson, when Ohio State introduced stress and McCarthy hung within the pocket simply lengthy sufficient to make a throw:
The second got here on Michigan’s subsequent offensive snap, with McCarthy hitting Johnson on a deep publish route after doing an awesome job of climbing the pocket:
A 3rd landing move, coming early within the second half to tight finish Colston Loveland, gave the Wolverines a 24-20 lead. Their passing recreation saved them within the contest, after which within the second half the working recreation took over, as backup working again Donovan Edwards — taking on for the injured Blake Corum — had a pair of lengthy landing runs to assist Michigan salt away the win.
So even when TCU can cease the run, because the Buckeyes did within the first half, McCarthy may make them pay.
Is that this a Large 12 recreation, or a Large Ten recreation?
Finally, who wins this recreation may come all the way down to that query.
Is that this a Large Ten recreation, or a Large 12 recreation?
Michigan needs to play “bully ball,” as Dykes talked about earlier this month. They wish to beat you up within the trenches, bringing the back-to-back Joe Moore Award winners to the struggle.
And as Dykes stated, this recreation is a distinction in kinds. “A little bit massive of contrasting kinds. We’re just a little bit extra of a group that depends on pace.”
Which type wins out may very nicely decide the course of this recreation. Does it find yourself like a Large Ten battle of the bullies, or a Large 12 observe meet?
Ohio State (11-1) vs. Georgia (13-0)
Can OSU match the physicality of Georgia?
The final time we noticed Ohio State on the sphere, they had been getting pushed round by Michigan to the tune of 252 yards speeding on 7.2 yards per carry as they misplaced gasoline within the second half. Now, you can say that’s as a result of Wolverines having a deep steady of working backs and an offensive line that received the Joe Moore award for the most effective offensive line unit in faculty soccer.
Properly, right here’s the factor: Georgia additionally has a deep steady of RBs and an offensive line that completed second to Michigan, and when Georgia needs to they’ll completely crush groups on the bottom—like working for 255 yards on 5.8 yards per carry towards LSU within the SEC title recreation.
If Ohio State goes to make this recreation aggressive sufficient to finish the upset, they should match the physicality of Georgia, particularly defensively.
Can CJ Stroud make performs along with his legs?
Take into consideration all the blokes which have given Kirby Good’s Georgia group issues: Bryce Younger, Baker Mayfield and to some extent Desmond Ridder. All of these guys made sufficient performs with their legs to both make the sport shut or pull off the upset. Final yr, Younger solely ran for 40 yards, nevertheless it was his potential to increase performs along with his ft that gave Georgia issues.
CJ Stroud is a bit more like Hendon Hooker of their potential to cube you from the pocket. Stroud is an effective operator publish snap and has the accuracy to hit in any respect three ranges. Nevertheless, one factor CJ Stroud doesn’t do is run the ball or prolong performs along with his legs as usually as Younger. Let’s use the Hooker instance. Hooker is extra of a runner than Stroud, however of their loss to Georgia he had 18 carries for 17 yards and was confined to the pocket. Stroud goes to have to make use of his legs to create home windows for himself on this recreation, or the offense will sputter out.
Can Georgia set up dominance up entrance early?
Georgia has been a extremely fascinating group all season. After they’ve needed to, they’ve been capable of dominate up entrance and switch video games into slugfests, or win in shootouts. This yr’s Georgia group does have a tendency for beginning gradual, nevertheless. You suppose again to the Missouri recreation, the place Georgia was down 19-12 going into the fourth quarter earlier than finally profitable 26-22. To their credit score, when the lights are the brightest they step on the gasoline, however the Bulldogs can’t afford to start out gradual towards a group like Ohio State, who can rating on each possession. Dominate up entrance early and infrequently, and make this recreation get out of hand early.
Will Stetson Bennett make sufficient performs by means of the air?
In each massive recreation that Georgia has performed this yr, there was one fixed: Stetson Bennett has the sport of his life. Towards Oregon in week one, Bennett threw for 368 yards and two TDs in a 49-3 beatdown. Within the win towards Tennessee, Bennett threw for 257 yards and two TDs and ran in a TD as nicely. Within the SEC title recreation, Bennett threw for 274 yards and 4 TDs within the 50-30 win.
Ohio State is a lot better towards the move than they’re the run (14th in passing yards allowed per recreation, twenty fourth in speeding yards allowed per recreation), however Michigan had some success hitting them with massive performs within the passing recreation. Can Bennett have the identical success?
How will OSU resolve the Jalen Carter drawback?
Yeah…uhhh…if Ohio State needs to win they need to decelerate this man:
2. Bears- Jalen Carter, IDL
I do not care what Todd McShay says. If Carter falls outdoors the highest 5, it’s going to be legal. The mix of dimension, pace, energy, agility, and explosiveness this man has is insane. Bears need assistance in every single place. To me, that is BPA pic.twitter.com/BWkuY5lsOK
— WalkTheMock (@WalkTheMock) December 26, 2022
A man that may carry opposing QBs with one arm like a father carrying his toddler to bedtime:
Jalen Carter is an enormous headache for any defensive coordinator as a result of his burst, energy and approach, and he’s going to be a difficulty for Ohio State. If the Buckeyes wish to make this a aggressive recreation, they should restrict Carter’s impression to a minimal.