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How handicappers see Georgia-TCU national title game

The double-digit point spread for Monday’s College Football Playoff national championship game has kept many handicappers and analysts from having a strong opinion on a side.

But the one play most bettors seem to agree on is that Georgia and Texas Christian will go over the total, which climbed to 63 at the Westgate SuperBook on Friday after opening at 61½.

Georgia is a 12½-point favorite over the Horned Frogs.

“It’s no secret college football has become an offensive game,” professional handicapper Paul Stone said. “We used to have the old adage offense sells tickets, defense wins championships. But that is simply no longer true.”

The Bulldogs are seeking their second straight national title, and should be able to put up points against TCU’s defense. But Stone (@PaulStoneSports) believes Georgia’s defense is a notch below last season’s star-studded unit, particularly in the secondary.

In their 42-41 semifinal victory over Ohio State, the Bulldogs allowed 467 total yards and 7.1 yards per play. Georgia also gave up 502 yards passing in its 50-30 win against Louisiana State in the Southeastern Conference championship game.

TCU ranks fifth in the nation in scoring offense at 41.1 points per game and is coming off a 51-45 upset over Michigan in the semifinals.

Quarterback Max Duggan, the Heisman Trophy runner-up, accounted for four touchdowns against the Wolverines. Projected first-round pick Quentin Johnston finished with 163 yards and a score on six receptions.

“If one team gets ahead, it’s going to be Georgia, and TCU would have to throw the ball,” Stone said. “I think we’re going to get a lot of plays. I kind of feel more comfortable with the over.”

Wes Reynolds, who swept the Review-Journal college and bowl challenge contests, is staying away from the side and total. Instead, the co-host of VSiN Live Bet Tonight likes a prop bet.

Georgia tight end Brock Bowers has a total of 62½ receiving yards at Boyd Gaming, and Reynolds is going with the over.

Bowers had 64 yards receiving against Ohio State and averages 5.7 targets per game. He could see more touches with Georgia’s receivers up against a strong TCU secondary and Bulldogs tight end Darnell Washington, a former Desert Pines standout, potentially hobbled by an ankle injury.

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett “is going to look for those safety valves, and I think one of those is going to be Brock Bowers,” Reynolds said. “That’s really how Georgia has to attack. I don’t think Georgia’s best plan of attack is to attack with their receivers.”

TCU has garnered the majority of betting action this week, and Circa Sports has moved its line to Georgia -12 since opening at -14.

Station Casinos went from Georgia -13 on the opening line and was at -12 on Saturday.

Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito reported one bettor placed a $25 wager on TCU to win the national title before the season at 500-1 odds. That ticket would pay $12,500 if the Horned Frogs pull the upset.

“Watching the two playoff games and seeing the way all four of those teams scored, it’s a clear over bet for bettors at this point,” Esposito said. “I think the big key is Georgia in the trenches is so much bigger on both sides of the ball. Can TCU have any luck exploiting that?”

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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