Duggan vs. Bennett: Two former underdogs battling for the CFP title

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — TCU lost his job for overthinking Max Duggan early in the season. seemed to have been spent.

Had they given five stars for resilience, these two would have been among the highest rated recruits in the country.

Now, the underdog-turned-legends of their respective schools will battle it out for the national championship on January 9 in Inglewood, Calif. No. 3 TCU upset No. 2 Michigan 51-45 and No. 1 Georgia defeated No. 4 Ohio State 42-41 on Saturday in the best two games in college football playoff history.

An encore awaits.

It will be the eighth consecutive title game with at least one team from the Southeastern Conference. The SEC has him 15 wins in his CFP history, and he has 11 wins in all other conferences combined.

“Now we have to handle business,” said Bennett. “We have to prepare. We have nine days or something to play against a really good TCU team.”

If anyone expected Duggan or Bennett to give a frenzied soundbite following their thrilling semi-final victory, it’s not just how they’re wired. Speak more like a 10-year NFL veteran than a college student.

“I’m just trying to do my job,” said Bennett.

Despite their career setbacks, the two Heisman Trophy finalists are doing a very good job.

Duggan accounted for four touchdowns in TCU’s victory over Michigan, throwing twice and running twice more. Bennett threw for 398 yards and he had three touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ win over Ohio State. This included a great Finals his drive to complete his 10-yard touchdown to Adonai Mitchell with his 54 seconds remaining.

“I looked around and there were a lot of determined, intense stares from all the guys,” Bennett said. , everyone else was confident.”

Duggan is in his fourth season at TCU after coming to school as a four-star recruit, but the journey hasn’t been without its problems. He played most of last season with a broken leg.

Duggan was disappointed in himself when new coach Sonny Dykes and offensive coordinator Garrett Riley first picked redshirt freshman Chandler Morris as their starting quarterback this summer. He said he wasn’t angry with him, and didn’t think about leaving TCU.

“You get over it quickly,” Duggan said. “Because I have a season to play.”

Morris was injured in the opener against Colorado, returning Duggan to the starting role. He had his most productive season to date with 3,546 passing yards, 32 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Horned Frogs won all 12 of his regular season games before losing to Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship Game.

They still have a spot in the CFP bracket, and as Saturday’s victory over Michigan proved, they deserve it.

“I think a lot of people were emotional because we are so close to the league championship,” Duggan said. I think it means a lot to the people here, the people in the locker room, the coaching staff, the fans and the university to have the opportunity to play in the national championship. ”

As for Bennett, the 25-year-old has never had the typical size or strength of his arms, especially as the leader of one of the most talented rosters in the country. The former walk-on, who bypassed junior college, was the unlikely leader of a team packed with good recruits.

He started early last season and led the Bulldogs to their first national championship since 1980.

Whatever happens on January 9, it’s safe to say that Duggan and Bennett won’t have to pay for cold drinks in Fort Worth or Athens anytime soon. I have a college game left.

“We know bigger things are coming,” said Duggan. “And that’s what we really want.”


Stephen Hawkins, AP Sports Writer, Fort Worth, Texas, and Ralph D. Russo, AP College Football Writer, Glendale, Arizona, contributed to this report.


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