CFP SEMIFINAL GAME PROJECTION vs. RESULTS
Final Score: 45-51, TCU by 6 over Michigan
SP+ Projection: Michigan by 9.3 (-15.3)
CD Projection: Michigan by 13 (-19)
CFP SEMIFINAL GAME RECAP vs. TCU
If you had told me that JJ McCarthy’s stat line would be equal to or better than Max Duggan’s at the end of this game, I would have gladly signed myself up for that outcome. While Duggan was 14/29 for 225 yards, 2 TDs, and 2 INTs, McCarthy finished 20/34 for 343 yards, 2 TDs, and 2 INTs (both became lethal pick-sixes). Both QBs added to the rushing attack also, and both found the end zone.
However, we knew the Michigan rushing attack was what mattered most. After the first snap saw Donovan Edwards flash for 54 yards, the Wolverines were unable to punch it into the end zone. Michigan’s 39% Success Rate on run plays was on par with their OSU performance, but the explosiveness was not the same after the first snap. Averaging 4.9 yards per run play was a full yard short of their season average of 5.9 YPP. The frantic game pace, and playing from behind the entire night, also forced Michigan to rely on the pass much more than normal.
Defensively, Michigan surrendered more huge explosive plays in this game than any other. TCU created four plays greater than 30 yards (32, 46, 69, 76) and they got larger as the game progressed. No other game saw more than two such plays against the Wolverines’ defense, and only two of those previous plays came in the 2nd half (48-yard pass by PSU and a 44-yard pass by OSU).
While the secondary accomplished what I had hoped in coverage versus TCU’s talented outside WRs, it was brutal to see too many missed tackles in critical spots. Both the 69-yard run (eventually tackled at the 1 yard line) and the 76-yard touchdown pass in the second half had the potential to be stopped short.
The special teams were another strength throughout the season. While the kicking units were mostly reliable in this game, a 31-yard punt return allowed in the 4th quarter led to a TCU field goal. That one negative blip is counteracted by the career-long 59-yard field goal nailed by Jake Moody on the final snap of the first half. The kick set a Michigan record for longest field goal, as well as the Fiesta Bowl record. A fitting end to a legendary individual career for Moody.
In most of the traditional statistical categories, Michigan finished with a slight edge. But, this game came down to the high-leverage moments, as all close football games do. When all the chips were on the table, Max Duggan and the TCU Horned Frogs were able to answer the challenge. Michigan’s sloppiness down to down forced the Wolverines into a shootout that TCU was certainly more accustomed to. It was quite a feat for Michigan to continue to answer the bell from behind, and they repeatedly showed the heart of champions.
The 2022 season was absolutely another step forward for the Michigan football program. There is a bitter taste that comes with falling short of their National Championship goals, and it’s especially sour to play less than your best in the last game. But, with all that said, this team is one of the greatest Michigan teams of all-time. And, the foundation for optimism heading into 2023 is just as strong as it was heading into this year. Now, the work begins to prepare to take the final few steps to the pinnacle of the sport. Onward!