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Residents prepare for the college football national championship game at SoFi Stadium on Monday

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Georgia and TCU meet for the College Football National Championship on Monday at SoFi Stadium and an Inglewood native could play a big role in the Horned Frogs’ bid to upset the defending national champions.

Local businesses are preparing for the impact the game will have on Inglewood’s economy, including an increase in tourism.

“We’re already seeing long lines, so we already know it’s got to be good,” Gregory Westmoreland, a tourist who was in town for the game, said on Sunday.

A local bakery owner said she was delighted with the potential increase in customers.

“We’re thrilled for people coming to town,” said Karolyn Plummer, owner of Sweet Red Peach.

With Kendre Miller’s availability uncertain, TCU would again turn to Emari Demercado, who rushed for a career-high 150 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries in the Horned Frogs’ 51-45 victory over Michigan in of the Fiesta Bowl New Year’s Eve that put them in the College Football Playoff title game.

Miller suffered a knee injury against Wolverines and did not touch the ball after the second-half opener. In his last pre-game meeting with reporters on Sunday morning, coach Sonny Dykes said “we’ll have a pretty good idea of ​​what he can and can’t do” in the typical team day before the game later on Sunday, “then make a decision.”

Miller told ESPN on Saturday that he had an MCL sprain in his right knee.

“When you start talking about a knee and a sprained knee and the things that go with it, potentially, you have to be very, very careful,” Dykes said. “Obviously Kendre is going to want to perform. It’s a big stage. He’s a tough kid.

“But he’s a young man. And our job is to take care of him and make sure that we don’t just see Monday night, that we see the bigger picture in terms of Kendre’s health and making what it takes for him, not just for Monday, but for his immediate future.”

The Mount Enterprise, Texas junior is third in rushing in the Big 12 Conference and 15th nationally with 1,399 yards. He was one of two running backs who were selected to the All-Big 12 First Team in the conference coaches’ vote.

Demercado is TCU’s second-leading rusher with 622 yards and six touchdowns on 107 carries. Prior to the Fiesta Bowl, his career high was 90 yards in a 63-17 loss to Oklahoma State on November 13, 2021.

Demercado grew up in what he described as a five-minute drive or 15-minute walk from what is now SoFi Stadium, which opened in 2020 on the former site of the race track Hollywood Park.

Demercado said he had never been inside SoFi Stadium, where fans were first allowed to attend games in 2021 after it started banned in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Demercado played his final season of Pop Warner football with the Carson Colts and formed a relationship, prompting him to play for Carson High School. After two seasons, Demercado decided that Carson “wasn’t quite where I wanted to be” and decided to transfer to Downey High.

With no scholarship offers from Football Bowl Subdivision teams when he was in high school, Demercado began researching college programs and opted for Saddleback College in Mission Viejo.

Demercado was selected by the California Community College Football Coaches Association as an all-state first-team selection after rushing for 1,026 yards and 15 touchdowns and catching 54 passes for 443 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie in 2017.

TCU was the first school to offer Demercado a scholarship after his season at Saddleback.

Demercado said he was “talking to Pac-12 schools” who wanted him to play another season at Saddleback “because they gave out all their offers for that year, so they needed me to be in the next group.

In his first season with the Horned Frogs, Demercado finished fourth on the ground with 224 yards on 57 carries.

Demercado played in four games in 2019, preserving a redshirt season, rushing for 65 yards on 18 carries. Demercado was among 150 first-team selections for the All-Big 12 varsity football team, which requires maintaining a GPA of 3.20 or better and playing in at least 20% of their team’s scheduled games.

Freshmen and transfers are not eligible during their first year of residence hall.

Demercado rushed for 199 yards on 46 carries in eight games as a junior in 2020 and 446 yards and four touchdowns on 96 carries as a fifth-year senior in 2021, while again a selection of the first team for the Academic All-Big 12 Football Team.

All players who played in 2020 received an additional year of eligibility. Demercado used his five seasons at TCU — plus credits received at Saddleback College — to earn a bachelor’s degree in economics and then a master’s degree in business analytics.

Horned Frogs offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Garrett Riley called Demercado “one of the most important pieces for us,” giving the team “a great one-two with Kendre.”

“He’s so consistent in his game, his demeanor, the way he trains,” said Riley, the younger brother of USC coach Lincoln Riley. “It’s something that rubs off on a lot of other guys as well.

Riley was among the coaches who moved with Dykes from SMU to TCU when he was hired to fill the vacancy created by Gary Patterson’s layoff eight games into the 2021 season, his 21st as a coach, when the Horned Frogs were 3-5. They finished the season 5-7.

TCU has won its first 12 games of the 2022 season, with five of the wins by eight points or less. The Horned Frogs beat five ranked opponents — Oklahoma, Kansas, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Texas — before their only loss, a 31-28 loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship Game.

TCU was seeded third in the final college football playoff standings and then defeated second-seeded Michigan in the semifinals.

Georgia (14-0) has had only one regular season game decided by less than 10 points, a 26-22 victory at Missouri on Oct. 1, where it scored two touchdowns in the final nine minutes, 39 seconds to overcome a 10 point deficit.

The Bulldogs were ranked first in the Final College Football Playoff National Rankings and secured their berth in the College Football Playoff title game by beating fourth-ranked Ohio State 42-41 in of the second New Year’s Eve semi-final, overcoming a fourth by 14 points. -quarterback deficit in a game that wasn’t decided until Noah Ruggles missed a 50-yard field goal attempt with three seconds left.

The quarterback game pits TCU’s Max Duggan, the Heisman Trophy voting finalist behind USC quarterback Caleb Williams, against Georgia’s Stetson Bennett IV, who finished fourth.

Duggan leads an offense that dominates the Football Bowl Subdivision in plays over 50 yards, 21, touchdowns 50+ yards 14, 10 of which are 60+ yards.

Bennett has led Georgia to 16 straight wins since losing to Alabama in the 2021 Southeastern Conference Championship.

TCU is averaging 41.1 points per game, tied for fourth among FBS teams, while the Bulldogs are averaging 39.4 points, eighth in FBS.

Georgia is looking to become the first team to win back-to-back championships since Alabama in 2011 and 2012. The Horned Frogs are seeking their first title since 1938.

TCU (13-1) is also looking to become the first team since Michigan State in 1965 to win a national championship after having a losing record the previous season and the fifth team all-time.

Bettors have the Bulldogs a 12 1/2 to 13 point favorite. ESPN Analytics gives Georgia a 72.9% chance of winning on Monday.

“It’s going to be a big challenge for us, but our guys have never backed down from challenges and they’re very confident in themselves, in our program and in what we’re trying to do,” Dykes said.

Holly Rowe, who will be a sideline reporter on ESPN’s 4:30 p.m. TV broadcast of the game, told City News Service, “If TCU were completely healthy, we’d have a really competitive game,” but the possibility of Miller missing the game or seeing only limited action is “really a big deal for TCU,” in the face of the rushed primary defense among FBS teams. The Bulldogs are giving up 79.9 rushing yards per game.

Rowe called horned frogs “better than people give them credit for.”

“They’re a very different team – they’re fast, they’re physical and they have great players,” Rowe said. “They have great striking ability. They play fast.

“Georgia are massive. They’re big, they’re strong and sometimes it’s hard to overcome.”

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