From the moment the TCU Horned Frogs shocked the Michigan Wolverines to bag their spot in the National Championship game in Los Angeles, Georgia football fans turned their attention to the horned, purple foe that awaits them within Sofi stadium.
The underdog tag both suits and befits the Horned Frogs. Prior to the season start and ahead of Sonny Dykes inaugural season in Fort Worth, no one gave TCU a shot at a place in the National Championship game. The experts had TCU ranked as the seventh-best team in the BIG 12.
Going into Monday’s final game of the season, the Horned Frogs had the longest odds of winning the National Championship at the start of the season of any team to reach the final. However let’s make no bones about it, Dykes purple machine deserves its place amongst college football royalty.
But for a team that so few knew anything about a few months ago who are the TCU players that Kirby Smart and his coaching staff are singling out that his team must stop? Here are three Horned Frogs that the Georgia Bulldogs must overcome to secure that elusive back-to-back National Championship.
TCU vs Georgia Bulldogs: 3). Max Duggan
It’s predictable to single out the team’s quarterback as the principle threat. However, like Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett, TCU’s quarterback, Max Duggan has had a long and arduous journey to the National Championship.
Duggan’s hugely successful 2022 season which earned him the runner-up spot in Heisman voting and a Davy O’Brien award belies the difficult journey he has been on to become QB1 in Fort Worth. In 2020 Duggan was diagnosed with a rare heart condition that required extensive surgery. A subsequent blood clot required emergency surgery to save his life. Despite this, 2020 was a successful football season for Duggan and the Horned Frogs with a berth in the Texas Bowl secured.
However, an injury-plagued 2021 season meant that Duggan had to fight for his place during 2022 spring and summer camps with TCU offensive coordinator Garrett Riley eventually settling on Chandler Morris as his first-choice QB. Morris opened the season against Colorado however a twisted knee for Morris and a twist of fate for Duggan set Max off on his course for a National Championship.
Duggan led the Frogs to a 12-0 record with a win over Iowa State, being the first TCU quarterback to lead the Horned Frogs to a perfect 12-0 record since Andy Dalton in 2010. So what should Georgia fans watch out for from Duggan?
Well, beware of the deep ball. Per ESPN stats on passes thrown over 20 yards, Duggan’s 50% completion rate is the best in FBS. He also leads the nation on passes of 50 yards or more (13). It feels like the Georgia secondary will have a busy game.
Over the course of the season so far Duggan recorded an impressive 30 touchdowns, 3 interceptions with 3,321 yards and a 66.6% completion rate. Duggan is also fleet of foot, rushing for 8 touchdowns this season making him a threat when he is on the move. But what stands out this season is the Horned Frogs’ ability to make jaw-dropping comebacks when losing games.
In five games with his team down by double digits in the second half of games, Duggan managed to claw his team to victory. It is this never say die attitude that has got them to the National Championship and has made the college football world sit up and take notice.