Arts & Culture

UGA vs. TCU: Which Is the Real Cinderella Team?

Because for fans of this all-Southern showdown, winning the expectations game is half the battle

Photo: Rich von Biberstein and Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire

As this is being written, the feverish fanbases of the University of Georgia and Texas Christian University are assembling in Los Angeles for the College Football Playoff Championship game, the season’s ultimate showdown taking place this Monday night at SoFi Stadium. Each corps of supporters believes heart-and-soul in their team, of course, but they’re also anxious, and not just at the sight of avocado being slathered atop every conceivable foodstuff in Southern California.

See, while the players must practice and prepare for perfection on the field, fans have an equally sacred duty: to downplay expectations and never surrender the cherished mantle of underdog. After all, being crowned champion is only a fraction more important than being the team that can claim to have overcome greater odds and exhibited more pluck on the path to hoisting a gleaming trophy.

Which squad offers the most persuasive Cinderella story? TCU hands down, right? The Horned Frogs didn’t even register in preseason rankings and didn’t garner a single vote in the AP Top 25 Poll until late September. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs debuted at number three and treated the top spot like its lofty living room for twelve weeks.

Never mind all that, demurs a Georgia fan. UGA barely escaped Kent State by a final score of 39–22. Kent Freaking State! Heck, if Ohio State hadn’t whiffed that playoff field goal, the Dawgs would be back in Athens right now. By the way, if you haven’t tried an avocado-quinoa melt, it’s actually pretty awesome.

Sure, retorts a TCU fan, but UGA did go undefeated, while we dropped the Big 12 championship game to Kansas State, nearly derailing our playoff destiny. Hey, did you know that avocados are high in fat, but they’re the good kind of fats? Plus, Vegas has Georgia favored by twelve points. 

Vegas, Shmegas. Consider this: No team has won back-to-back championships in the playoff era, not even the Crimson-Hued Team That Shall Not Be Named. Speaking of which, do you think the outcome will be decided solely on the turf? Fearing that a two-time-champ UGA will be an even more formidable recruiting force, other SEC coaches are busy sticking pins in Kirby Smart dolls, and everyone knows that Nick Saban, on weekends when the moon is in the right phase and a snippet of fur has been snatched from a foe’s mascot, wields warlock-level powers to influence the outcome of even faraway games.

Plus, contends a Georgia fan, how about our quarterback? Stetson Bennett was a freshman walk-on, then did a year in junior college before transferring back and leading UGA to last year’s national championship. The guy is such a Cinderella QB that he might as well wear glass slippers while evading linebackers.

That’s a cute story, quips a TCU fan. Our quarterback, Max Duggan, underwent a nine-hour heart operation two years ago. Now that big ticker has taken us through the playoffs and still nobody knows his name—just like Cinderella. And let’s talk mascots: Our Horned Frog is just a plump little lizard that likes to soak up the sun all day.

Oh, you mean the same little lizard that squirts blood out of its eyeballs? Georgia’s adorable pooch Uga would faint if he saw that horror show. Plus, and this can’t be stressed enough, you can’t spell “underdogs” without “dawgs.” Sort of.

And on it goes. Fans on both sides will continue to deploy rhetorical trick plays way past when the bar cuts them off from another round of guacamole shooters. Then, Monday evening, the players themselves will get dressed up to attend the royal ballgame, and sometime around midnight (Eastern Standard Time, that is), we’ll all finally find out which team is the real Cinderella…and which is the pumpkin.