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The TCU Horned Frogs went flat belly up against the biggest wheel of the Southeastern Conference Mega Trucking Company on Monday night by a whopping 65-7.
It was the largest margin of victory in a college football national championship game in the Bowl Championship Series and College Football Playoff eras. The previous high was Nebraska’s 62-24 win over Florida to end the 1995 season.
The Frogs barely got a jump off before it was over. The No. 1 Bulldogs steamrolled to five touchdowns and a field goal on their six possessions of the first half for a 38-7 lead at the half. TCU was within 10-7 for exactly two minutes and two seconds in the first quarter before trailing by double digits for the rest of the game.
“It’s going to take a long time to get over a sting like this,” TCU coach Sonny Dykes said. “I’m disappointed we didn’t make a better showing because that’s not indicative of who we are. I don’t know what happened tonight. It snowballed on us. We ran into a very good team. I think our guys panicked a little bit.”
The SEC … it just means more — championships.
That’s six out of nine in the College Football Playoff era that started in the 2014 season and the last four straight – the last two by Georgia, Alabama in 2020, LSU in 2019 and Alabama in the 2015 and ’17 seasons. In 2017, Alabama beat another SEC team for the title (Georgia). And last year, Georgia beat another SEC team for the title (Alabama). The SEC is 14-3 in the CFP final fours overall. That means more domination.
The Big 12 … it’s just an exaggeration. The league only has 10 teams.
And TCU was the first Big 12 team to make the CFP final four and was the first Big 12 outfit to play for a national championship since Texas lost to Alabama in the 2009 title game in the former Bowl Championship Series format.
TCU Horned Frogs Were Done From Jump
“We had things go about as bad as they could go in the first half,” Dykes said at halftime, and he knew it was more than halfway over. “Turned the ball over three times, gave up a bunch of big plays. It seemed like maybe a little early maybe our guys were a little bit wide-eyed.”
Georgia had 19 first downs to five by the Frogs and 354 yards to 121, including 141 rushing to 24.
It looked like an early season rent-a-win for Georgia over Samford, which it only beat 33-0 back in September. Georgia took a 52-7 lead over TCU in the third quarter. There was so much yawn time that players could have entered the Transfer Portal.
“We’ve just got to get settled in,” Dykes said at the half.
That never happened. The Bulldogs finished with 32 first downs to nine, 589 yards to 188 and 335 rushing yards to 152.
Georgia was frog hunting like it was out of turtles all night.
“We’re going to hunt tonight,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said before the game – a reference to the cliche about defending national champions. Georgia was supposedly the hunted all season because it won the national title last year.
“All year, I told ’em, ‘We ain’t gettin’ hunted guys. We’re doing the hunting, and hunting season’s almost over. We only got one more chance to hunt,'” Smart said as if he was in a duck blind. “And we hunted tonight.”
The Bulldogs (15-0) played hungry and became the first team to win back-to-back national titles since – guess which other SEC team. Why, Alabama in 2011 and ’12, of course. And the ’11 win was over – you guessed it – another SEC team (LSU).
That’s 13 SEC national championships since 2003 with Alabama winning six, LSU three and Florida and Georgia two each. Alabama also lost two national title games in 2016 and ’18 to non-SEC Clemson.
The SEC Still Slipped A Smidge This Season
Still, the SEC slipped a little in 2022. It only one put one team in CFP final four first of all after two the previous season, while the Big Ten had two with Michigan and Ohio State. Yes, Alabama and Tennessee could have beaten TCU, sure, but neither deserved to be in the playoff. Both fell off late in the regular season.
Alabama lost to an LSU team that would lose four games, including by 38-23 in the regular season finale to a Texas A&M team that finished 5-7 overall, 2-6 in the SEC. The SEC West had not had a four-loss champion since 2017 when Auburn also went 10-4. LSU was also just the second 10-4 West champion since 2006 when Arkansas went 10-4. And Tennessee lost late in the year, 63-38, to average South Carolina, which finished 8-5 and 4-4. TCU gave up 65, but to the No. 1 team in the nation. The Volunteers’ pass defense, by the way, finished 127th in the nation out of 131 upper level programs.
Did Alabama, Tennessee and LSU all fade because of the strength of the SEC? No, they faded because they were not elite teams. The SEC had only one of those this season along with the Big 12. The Big Ten had two in Michigan and Ohio State.
TCU looked awful in its last game, but it did beat No. 2 Michigan, 51-45, in a classic CFP semifinal last week. And Michigan beat Ohio State, which should have beaten Georgia in the other CFP semifinal last week, but lost 42-41 on a missed field goal. Ohio State would have likely wiped out TCU just like Georgia did. And Ohio State and Michigan would have beaten all or most of the other 13 in the SEC. Period.
The SEC is still No. 1, but the gap decreased by just a tad with the 13 non-Georgia SEC teams and will likely continue to do so as the NCAA Transfer Portal continues to add parity.
The Big 12 and Big Ten improving incrementally will only make the new 12-team playoff format coming in the 2024 season that much better.