Georgia and TCU are more similar than you think. The two combatants in Monday night's College Football Playoff National Championship (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN App) both like to spread defenses out with lots of quick, horizontal passes. They both spend a majority of their time lined up in a 3-3-5 defense, or something very close to it. They are a combined 27-1 this season, and they have both risen to the occasion whenever asked.

They boast plenty of dissimilarities, too, of course. Georgia is one of the sport's three great recruiting powerhouses along with Alabama (the team the Bulldogs beat in last season's national title game) and Ohio State (the team they beat in last week's CFP semifinal). Kirby Smart's Bulldogs are aiming for a second straight national title, and this will be the sixth straight season they have finished in the AP top 10.

TCU, on the other hand, is riding the hot hand of a first-year head coach -- Texas native and former Louisiana Tech, Cal and SMU head man Sonny Dykes -- and a roster loaded with experience but not necessarily awash with the volume of former blue-chippers typically required for a title run. The Horned Frogs had gone just 23-24 over the four seasons before Dykes' arrival, and while he inherited a roster with potential, "potential" was far more likely to mean "They could go 8-4 or so" than this.

By Tuesday morning, either we will be talking about a burgeoning dynasty and the first team to repeat as champ in a decade or we will be talking about the most incredible and unlikely national champion the sport has seen in 30 or 40 years, at minimum. The sportsbooks suggest that the former is far more likely than the latter. Georgia is favored by 12.5 points, per Caesars, and the most recent two times we've had a spread even as large as 9.5 points in the title game, we've seen blowouts: Alabama was -9.5 against both Ohio State in 2020 and Notre Dame in 2012 and won both games by 28.

A blowout could certainly be on the table here, too. But the two games with spreads that large before Bama's big wins? Both upsets. The last four times we've seen a double-digit spread in the Super Bowl? All upsets. You never know.

Here's everything you need to follow about a potentially fascinating national title game.


SP+ rankings

Georgia: first overall, 12th offense, fourth defense, eighth special teams

TCU: sixth overall, fifth offense, 37th defense, 30th special teams