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No. 3 TCU holds off No. 2 Michigan to earn championship spot

Dec 31, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; TCU Horned Frogs quarterback Max Duggan (15) passes against Michigan Wolverines defensive lineman Kris Jenkins (94) in the second quarter of the 2022 Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

TCU’s defense returned two interceptions for touchdowns and quarterback Max Duggan accounted for four touchdowns Saturday as the third-ranked Horned Frogs outgunned No. 2 Michigan 51-45 in the College Football Playoff semifinals in Glendale, Ariz.

Both teams are 13-1, but it’s TCU that will move on to the championship game on Jan. 9 at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles against either No. 1 Georgia or No. 4 Ohio State. The Horned Frogs gave up 527 yards and 39 second half points, but came up with the necessary plays to move on.

The Wolverines had a chance to win the game when they got the ball back on their 25 with 52 seconds left, but couldn’t gain a first down. TCU survived a targeting review on Michigan’s fourth-down play that was stopped at the line of scrimmage.

Duggan wasn’t as efficient as usual, but still completed 14 of 29 passes for 225 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also rushed for two touchdowns and backup running back Emari Demercado rushed for 150 yards, the most anyone’s gained on the Wolverines this year, on 17 attempts.

J.J. McCarthy was 20 of 34 for 343 yards and two touchdowns for Michigan, but the two pick-sixes he tossed ultimately made the difference.

A 200-1 shot to reach this point, TCU showed it belonged from the start, establishing a 21-6 halftime lead. It led 14-0 after a quarter as Bud Clark returned an interception 41 yards and Duggan capped a 76-yard drive with a 1-yard run.

It became 21-3 when Duggan found Taye Barber for a 6-yard touchdown pass, finishing an 83-yard march. But Michigan gained momentum going into halftime when Jake Moody boomed a 59-yard field goal as time expired.

The Wolverines found rhythm offensively in a 24-point third quarter, although McCarthy mixed in his second pick-six of the game when Dee Winters lugged it back 29 yards for a 34-16 advantage. But Michigan closed within 41-30 with three seconds left in the period on a 1-yard run by Kalei Mullings and a 2-point conversion.

–Field Level Media