The Fiesta Bowl between TCU vs Michigan kicks off the College Football Playoff Semifinal with a fantastic matchup for a spot in the CFP National Championship. It’s a monumental moment for both the Michigan Wolverines and TCU Horned Frogs, with an opportunity to appear in the CFP Championship for the first time in program history.
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Michigan made the CFB Playoff last season, only to lose 34-11 to the Georgia Bulldogs in the Orange Bowl. A year later, the Wolverines are No. 2 in the college football rankings with Jim Harbaugh and Co. one win away from a shot at the national title.
Meanwhile, TCU is the feel-good story of the 2022 season. Sonny Dykes took over as the Horned Frogs head coach in November 2021 and quarterback Max Duggan wasn’t even the projected starter heading into August. Incredibly, the Horned Frogs pulled off a perfect regular season and a close loss in the Big 12 Championship Game kept them in the No. 3 playoff spot.
Let’s dive into everything you should know about this Fiesta Bowl matchup.
TCU vs Michigan odds
The latest odds for TCU vs Michigan are via BetMGM, with the Wolverines a touchdown favorite for the CFP Semifinal matchup at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
- Spread: -7.5 Michigan
- Point Total: 58.0 total points
- Moneyline: -300 Michigan, +240 TCU
Best bets for TCU vs Michigan – Fiesta Bowl prop bets
- Michigan scores first touchdown (-200)
- Race to 20 points – Michigan (-225)
- Michigan victory by 1-6 points (+425)
- JJ McCarthy 105+ passing yards
- Quentin Johnson 85+ receiving yards
- Ronnie Bell 40+ receiving yards
- Donovan Edwards rushing touchdown
Fiesta Bowl TV, game info
Here’s a brief rundown of everything to know about the Fiesta Bowl 2022.
- TV: ESPN
- Time: 4:00 PM ET
- Location: State Farm Stadium, Glendale, AZ
3 matchups to watch TCU vs Michigan
Quentin Johnston vs Michigan Wolverines secondary
The Fiesta Bowl will provide a national audience with an opportunity to watch one of the best players in college football. Quentin Johnson, one of the top prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft, is arguably the most dangerous player in the nation with a football in his hands.
TCU is going to find a variety of ways to get him into open space. He drew 21.2% of his targets on screens this year, per PFF, turning them, averaging 8.4 yards after the catch per reception. Another 25.9% of his targets came 20-plus yards downfield, averaging 42.3 yards per catch on deep receptions with five touchdowns. Johnston also created havoc on medium routes, averaging 20.8 ypc with 24.7% of his targets coming between 10-19 yards past the line of scrimmage.
Michigan does have 6-foot-2 cornerback Will Johnson, who earned an 88.4 PFF coverage grade this season and allowed just a 53.2 QB rating when targeted across 281 coverage snaps. It would be putting the freshman in a difficult spot to have him line up one-on-one vs Johnston. So, the Wolverines might ask 6-foot-4 free safety Makari Paige (81.0 PFF coverage grade) to provide some help over the top.
One thing to keep in mind, Johnson and Paige missed 14% of their tackles on passing plays this season (PFF). Against a 6-foot-4 wide receiver who excels at making defenders miss, this could be a problem for the Wolverines.
J.J. McCarthy vs TCU Horned Frogs defense
The Ohio State Buckeyes sold out to stop the run in “The Game” and forced quarterback J.J. McCarthy to prove he could make plays with the offense on his shoulders. Obviously, the Buckeyes’ strategy backfired as it left Michigan receivers open downfield which McCarthy easily took advance of.
TCU’s first priority will be stopping the Wolverines’ ground game, which is a reasonable approach to take. It will likely mean drives are put on McCarthy’s shoulders once again, this time against a Horned Frogs defense that ranked top-20 in average QB rating allowed (119.3) with the eighth-lowest completion rate (54.6%) surrendered.
One key will be how successful TCU is at generating pressure. The Wolverines allowed the 17th-lowest sack rate (3.74%) in the FBS and its 65 pressures allowed ranked 22nd in the nation. As for TCU, it ranked 117th in PFF’s pass-rush grade and ranked 80th in sack rate (5.76%).
Here’s why that matters. McCarthy completed 50% of his passes when pressured this season with a 50.2 PFF passing grade. In contrast, he posted an 85.4 passing grade with a 15-2 TD-INT ratio, 68.9% completion rate and 113.3 passer rating in a clean pocket. If TCU doesn’t get home or it sells out to stop the run – McCaffrey thrived on play-action passes (13.1 ypa, 8-1 TD-INT, 142.1 QB rating) – the Wolverines win by two scores.
Max Duggan vs Michigan Wolverines front seven
Credit to Max Duggan for one of the most unexpected single-season performances by anyone in college football this season. After stepping in as the TCU Horned Frogs starting quarterback, Duggan thrust himself from a relative unknown into a Heisman Trophy finalist. He now gets to step onto the big stage at the Fiesta Bowl
He is now facing one of the best defenses in college football with future NFL talent on every level. Our focus, though, is on Michigan’s front seven and its ability to both get pressure on Duggan and whether or not it can prevent him from breaking off runs to pick up first downs.
The Wolverines can get to the quarterback. They ranked 29th in sack rate (7.74%) during the regular season and finished 15th in PFF’s pass-rush grade (86.2). That’s going to be crucial since Duggan was awful when pressured.
- Max Duggan stats vs pressure: 52.1 PFF grade (44th), 44.1% completion rate (70th)
It just can’t be the blitz, because Duggan ate that up (12-3 TD-INT, 59.2% completion rate, 123.2 QB rating). So, it’s a talented pass rush that can be a bit inconsistent (3.85% sack rate in last three games) against Duggan and an offensive line that ranked 96th in Pass Blocking Efficiency, surrendering pressure on 20.1% of its dropbacks.
Michigan vs TCU prediction
Quentin Johnson and Sonny Dykes give the TCU Horned Frogs a shot to win the Fiesta Bowl, but a lot of things must go right. Michigan boasts talent advantages in crucial positions and you can find points of exploitation at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. W
e think this should be a closer game than the Peach Bowl, but Michigan went undefeated and blew the doors off Ohio State in the second half for a reason. When it comes down to it, the Wolverines are the faster, stronger and more talented team. In a game that should come down to the final drives, give us the Wolverines.
- Prediction: Michigan 31, TCU 27