The TCU Horned Frogs nearly had their magical season end with a loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 championship. However, they did enough to impress the committee becoming the first team from the state of Texas to play in the CFP. TCU gets a tough assignment against the unbeaten Michigan Wolverines in the Fiesta Bowl semifinal matchup. UM is poised to make noise this year after losing to eventual champion Georgia in last year’s semifinal. Michigan closed the season with an upset win at rival Ohio State then bounced Purdue in the Big Ten championship for its second straight CFP appearance. The Maize and Blue are a healthy favorite on the college football betting line.
On Saturday, December 31, 2022, the TCU Horned Frogs play the Michigan Wolverines in the VRBO Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, AZ. Kickoff time is set for 4 p.m. ET with television coverage on ESPN.
Fiesta Bowl Odds
TCU Horned Frogs +7.5
Michigan Wolverines -7.5
Oddsmakers didn’t give TCU much respect on the opening line pegging the Frogs as a 9-point dog. Early action on TCU drove the line down to Michigan -7.5. It’s easy to see why UM was such a big favorite with their dominance on both sides of the ball. They showed off in a 45-23 rout of Ohio State in their final regular season game as a 9-point dog and covered the 16-point line in a 43-22 thumping of Purdue in the Big Ten championship. UM is 5-1-1 ATS in its last seven games and 8-4-1 ATS for the season.
TCU’s quest for a perfect season ended with a 31-28 OT loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 title game when they were a 1-point dog to a team they beat by 10 earlier in the year. Despite that the Frogs have been a good bet all season going 5-2 ATS in their last seven games and 9-3-1 ATS overall.
TCU Horned Frogs
After three straight bowl-less seasons and a coaching change, I don’t think TCU expected to be playing a CFP semifinal game. There is a theme among the CFP participants and it has to do with offense. All four clubs average better than 39 points with TCU up there among the best in the country. It’s the balance of the offense under first-year coach Sonny Dykes that makes them so lethal. Heisman Trophy finalist Max Duggan blossomed under the new regime, even though he wasn’t the starter at the beginning of the year. Taking over for injured Chandler Morris in the opener, Duggan threw for 3,321 yards and 30 touchdowns with only four interceptions.
Kendre Miller rushed for 1,342 yards and 17 scores to boost the ground game. The national rankings are a good sign of the team’s balance. The Frogs have the 25th best rushing and passing attack averaging 473 yards per game. Defense is an area that hasn’t been quite as good and could be TCU’s downfall. The Frogs allowed nearly 385 yards and rank in the middle of the pack surrendering 25 points per tilt.
There’s a good chance the Wolverines get a CFP rematch with Georgia if both teams survive and advance. I doubt UGA is looking ahead as much as Michigan and that could be a factor in the outcome of this matchup. TCU is an opponent that shouldn’t be overlooked. After dispatching rival Ohio State the Wolverines could have let down in the Big Ten championship, but that wasn’t the case. The offense got a boost from Donovan Edwards the last two games after Blake Corum was injured. Edwards ran for 216 and two scores against Ohio State and added 185 yards and a TD in the win over Purdue.
The offensive numbers were inflated by early season romps over Colorado State, Hawai’i and Connecticut when the Wolverines scored more than 50 points in each. Still, the group’s been good with J.J. McCarthy throwing for 2,376 yards and 20 TDs with only three interceptions. Once again UM’s defense has been strong holding teams to an average of 13.4 points while ranking among the top-5 against the run and in total yards allowed. And Michigan doesn’t beat itself with only seven giveaways, the second-fewest in the FBS.
TCU vs. Michigan Free Pick
Kudos to TCU for getting here, but I just don’t think they have the firepower and defense to keep up with the Wolverines. The Big 12 isn’t exactly known for having defensive powerhouses making their exploits a little overblown. Still, they have to execute and they did at a high level. Duggan will make things interesting with his dual threat ability, but TCU will wilt on defense as the game progresses allowing UM to cover.
BookMaker Pick: Michigan Wolverines -7.5
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