TCU (12-1) vs Michigan (13-0)
When: Saturday, December 31st 2022
Where: State Farm Stadium,
Time: 4:00 ET | TV: ESPN
Opening Odds: Michigan -9/59.5
The College Football Playoff semifinals are set and the first game up on New Year’s Eve has the upstart TCU Horned Frogs taking on the Michigan Wolverines in the Fiesta Bowl from Glendale, Arizona. The Wolverines surprised everyone this year by not only defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes and winning the Big Ten, but going undefeated as well. Michigan was in this same position last year and were completely outmatched by Georgia’s stout defense in the Orange Bowl 34-11. They will now have to worry about TCU’s high-powered offense if they are to advance to the title game on January 9 in Inglewood, California. The winner of this contest will take on the victor of the other semifinal game between Ohio State and Georgia.
Head coach Sonny Dykes has already revived this TCU program in only one season. The Horned Frogs haven’t even been to a Bowl game in the last three seasons, but are now two wins away from a national championship. TCU ran the table this season until an overtime loss in the Big 12 Championship game against Kansas State. Even with the loss, the Horned Frogs were solid enough all season to warrant a playoff berth. TCU was an impressive 9-3-1 ATS this year including 4-1-1 away from home. Michigan finished the season 8-4-1 ATS and 3-1 ATS away from home. The Wolverines are 7.5-point favorites in this contest with a total of 58.5.
The TCU offense was led by quarterback Max Duggan, who had 3,321 passing yards and 30 touchdowns against just four interceptions. The Horned Frogs finished the regular season ranked ninth in the nation with 38.8 points per game and 20th overall with 459.9 total yards per contest. Duggan has plenty of weapons downfield to give this Michigan team a scare. He also added six rushing touchdowns. The running game was led by the reliable Kendre Miller, who rushed for 1,342 yards and 17 touchdowns. Defensively, the Horned Frogs weren’t the strongest in the country, ranking 74th in yards allowed (384.6) and 84th against the pass (235.6).
The Wolverines finished the season with easy wins over Ohio State and then Purdue in the Big Ten Championship game. They are a balanced team that finished fifth in the nation with 40.1 points per game and third with just 13.4 points allowed per contest. The Wolverines also run the ball very well, ranking fifth at 243.0 yards per game. Leading rusher Blake Corum (1,463) won’t be there due to injury, but they have a capable backup in Donovan Edwards. The Michigan native rushed for 216 yards and two touchdowns against Ohio State, then posted 185 yards and a touchdown in the Big Ten championship. Quarterback J.J. McCarthy threw for a combined six touchdowns in the final two games and has thrown just three interceptions all season.
I’ve been riding this TCU team all season and I’m not getting off them now. The offense is terrific and is more than capable of keeping up with Michigan. Sonny Dykes is a veteran coach who has been given plenty of time to prepare for this contest.
Pick: TCU +7.5