With the 12-team playoff expansion approved for 2024, teams that make it to the national championship game will be facing even longer seasons.
Georgia and TCU played in their respective conference championship games before the College Football Playoff, so both will be in their 15th game Monday night. When expansion comes, the two teams who make the final game will play 16 or 17 games.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart said he worries less about playing more games than having the long layoff after the Southeastern Conference championship game.
“I haven’t really thought about it because I know that’s coming down the road,” Smart said of the playoff expansion. “But at the end of the day, the gap, the space between the last game being the conference championships and the semifinals probably bothers me more than anything else because I think you lose rhythm there. So I don’t know that it’s the total number of games as much as it is the layoff in between.”
TCU coach Sonny Dykes said he believes the 12-team playoff “is going to be great” for the Big 12 and everybody else.
“I think there’s a lot of good football teams that deserve to be in the playoff,” Dykes said. “And I’ve always believed that the cream rises and the more opportunities that schools outside of the traditional brands get, the more those schools can become traditional brands. I think if you exclude them, it’s hard to break in. And I think this will give a lot of schools like TCU an opportunity to get in the mix and show what they’re capable of.”
FROM BACK TO FRONT
Dylan Horton is a 275-pound defensive end for TCU who had four sacks in the Fiesta Bowl against Michigan.
Before he got to TCU as a junior for the 2020 season, Horton had spent two seasons as a linebacker at New Mexico. He had gone there there after being a safety at Frisco High School in Texas.
Horton said he weighed about 200 pounds when he was a defensive back in high school. When confirming he had gained about 70 pounds or more since then, it was jokingly referred to him that it was all muscle.
“Oh yeah, all muscle,” he responded with a smile.
As for the transition from the secondary to the defensive front, he said it was a unique feeling getting closer to the ball and seeing defense played different at each of those positions.
“I got a good perspective as I got closer to the ball,” he said. “I have a better understanding of how it should play.”
COOL UNDER PRESSURE
Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett was again composed when the CFP semifinal 42-41 win over Ohio State was on the line, throwing two fourth-quarter touchdown passes.
Smart said Bennett, a sixth-year senior, has an ideal “mental disposition.”
“I think he doesn’t think of the moment any different than the first quarter from the fourth quarter,” Smart said. “He doesn’t feel that. He is a processor. He’s a deep thinker. He just goes through the process of what he’s going to do and doesn’t let it affect him. He’s never real real high or real real low, which I think is a great trait for a quarterback. And I think that helps him in the fourth quarter to be able to go execute. He has a lot of confidence.”
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