It has been a dream season for the TCU Horned Frogs, who came from nowhere under first-year head coach Sonny Dykes to reach the College Football Playoff for the first time.
But will this season’s biggest surprise success story take things a step further and play for a title on January 9? To do that, the #3 Horned Frogs (12-1) must upset the odds against #2 Michigan (13-0) in today’s Fiesta Bowl, which serves as the first of the two CFP semifinal games.
The matchup at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona is scheduled to kick off at 4:00 pm ET, and you can catch all of the action on ESPN and the ESPN app.
With a win in one NFC West stadium, the winner of this game will move to play for the national title at another NFC West stadium, as this season’s championship game will be held at SoFi Stadium, which hosted last season’s Super Bowl.
TCU has returned to the upper echelon of college football in their first season with Dykes, thanks to QB Max Duggan, who went from three-year starter to backup to Heisman Trophy runner-up.
Last year, Michigan reached the College Football Playoff for the first time, but their dreams were crushed inside a quarter by Georgia, who dominated them from start to finish in a resounding Orange Bowl win before defeating Alabama for the national title.
Will redemption come today for the Wolverines, or will the Horned Frogs have other ideas? Read on for our TCU vs Michigan prediction, as well as our 2022 Fiesta Bowl betting picks and analysis.
TCU vs Michigan Odds
Game odds are via FanDuel as of Saturday, December 31, 2022, at 12:40 pm ET. This article may also include odds from our other recommended legal sports betting sites.
- TCU +7.5 (-108)
- Michigan -7.5 (-112)
- Over 57.5 (-115)
- Under 57.5 (-105)
- TCU +260
- Michigan -330
Can TCU’s Offense Solve Michigan’s Defense?
Michigan has not been challenged too often this season, thanks to a defense that ranks third in the FBS in rushing yards allowed per game and total yards allowed per game, fourth in yards allowed per carry, fifth in points allowed per game and yards allowed per pass.
And while the Wolverines don’t have an Aidan Hutchinson this year, they still rank 15th in the FBS in sacks with 36, led by Mike Morris’s seven. They also rank 19th in third-down conversion defense, allowing only 32.4% of third-down attempts to be converted.
The Wolverines also don’t beat themselves much. They are tied for third in the country in fewest giveaways with only seven, and they are tied for sixth in fewest penalties per game (53 in 13 games, an average of just over four per game).
That is a lot for TCU to have to overcome.
The Big 12 isn’t known for its defense, and this year isn’t really any different. Iowa State (285.6 YPG) is the only Big 12 team in the top 50 in the FBS in yards allowed per game, and they are the only team in the conference allowing fewer than 360 yards per game.
But that doesn’t diminish how good TCU’s offense has been against some talented opposition.
The Horned Frogs are one of just eight teams to average at least 250 yards passing and 200 yards rushing per game, and they are fifth in the country in scoring (40.3 PPG) and 14th in the country in yards per per game (473.0).
Duggan is the headliner, but the Horned Frogs wouldn’t be here without their ground game, led by RB Kendre Miller.
Miller is 19th in the country in rushing yards (1,342), 31st in yards per carry (6.2), and tied for seventh in rushing touchdowns (17), and he may be running with an extra point to prove after being incorrectly denied a game-winning touchdown in overtime in the Big 12 title game against Kansas State.
TCU vs Michigan Prediction and Picks
2022 Fiesta Bowl Prediction: Michigan to win
2022 Fiesta Bowl Picks: Michigan -7.5 (Best Value: Caesars Sportsbook & BetMGM) & Michigan team total over 33.5 (Best Value: Caesars Sportsbook)
I have a lot of love for this TCU team, and I think they can win this game. Anyone writing them off is making a major mistake. They aren’t here by accident, and they aren’t here by default. They earned their way here (and they should be 13-0, but I digress), and I expect them to show that.
That said, I expect the Wolverines to come away with the Fiesta Bowl win. They have been excellent this year at responding strongly when challenged and limiting the opposition’s window of opportunity, and I look for them to do the same against TCU.
While their offense might not garner the notoriety of say, archrival Ohio State, they have a lot to reckon with on that side of the ball.
Quarterback J.J. McCarthy, who has 20 touchdown passes and just three interceptions and has done a great job limiting mistakes, and the ground game has chugged along despite the loss of Blake Corum thanks to Donovan Edwards, who ran for 216 yards against Ohio State and 185 in the Big Ten title game win over Purdue.
TCU did a fantastic job against Bijan Robinson in their win over Texas but defending the run hasn’t been a strong point on the whole, as they allow 4.1 yards per attempt and 149.5 yards per game.
The Horned Frogs have allowed 150+ yards eight times, with highs of 232 against Baylor in a close shave and 205 against Kansas State in their Big 12 title game loss.
Look for Michigan to exploit that vulnerable spot to the fullest extent on the way to securing a spot in next month’s title tilt.
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