This article is part of our College Football Picks series.
Fiesta Bowl Picks: TCU vs. Michigan Betting Preview and Expert Picks
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The TCU Horned Frogs and the Michigan Wolverines have not played a game since December 3rd. On that day, Michigan won the Big Ten Championship game over the Purdue Boilermakers and TCU lost the Big 12 Championship game to the Kansas State Wildcats. Although the Horned Frogs were knocked down by a late field goal in overtime, they weren't knocked out, as fate squeezed them into the four-team College Football Playoff.
TCU's one loss to Kansas State is the only loss between both of these clubs, as Michigan ran right through their schedule, all the way through their conference championship. Most of the Wolverines' 13 wins came by multiple scores, as Michigan only played in two contests all season that resulted in a one-score game. By comparison, TCU played in six one-score games.
With both of these squads rested for about a month, it may be hard to properly judge them going into a matchup with such high stakes: the College Football Playoff Semifinal.
TCU vs. Michigan Odds for the Fiesta Bowl
Spread: -7.5 Michigan (FanDuel Sportsbook)
Total: 58.5 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
Moneyline: TCU +250, Michigan -315 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
Michigan's defense has been a brick wall in 2022. The Wolverines have allowed just 191.8 passing yards per game (23rd in the NCAA), 85.2 rushing yards per game (3rd in the NCAA) and have surrendered an average of just 13.4 points per game (4th in the NCAA). Michigan's defense allowed more than 23 points in a game just once this season when the Maryland Terrapins put up 27 on the Wolverines on September 24th. Still, 27 points is the most Michigan has allowed all season. The Horned Frogs are going to have to fight tooth and nail to get into the endzone.
TCU has allowed 27 or more points seven times this season, but despite giving up more points than their playoff counterpart, they still have produced better-than-average numbers on the defensive side of the ball. The Horned Frogs allowed an average of 25 points per game (57th in the NCAA), and that was clearly good enough to quiet down some of the high-flying offenses of the Big 12.
The solid running game and defense of the Michigan Wolverines has this game feeling like a potential under bet, also because neither team has played in nearly a month.
TCU vs. Michigan Betting Picks for the Fiesta Bowl
The starting quarterbacks in this semifinal matchup have been two of the NCAA's most efficient of 2022. Horned Frogs' QB Max Duggan has completed 64.9 percent of his passes for 3,321 yards, 30 touchdowns, and just four interceptions. The Wolverines' QB J.J. McCarthy has completed 65.3 percent of his passes for 2,376 yards, 20 touchdowns, and just three interceptions. Interestingly enough, both of these quarterbacks kicked off the season in a QB battle on their respective teams. Luckily for both clubs, head coaches Jim Harbaugh and Sonny Dykes came to their senses.
Blake Corum dominated in the backfield for Michigan this year, but due to injury, he will give way to Donovan Edwards in the Fiesta Bowl. Edwards has stepped up nicely, rushing for 7.5 yards per carry this season, and in his last two starts, ran for 216 yards and two touchdowns against the Ohio State Buckeyes and another 185 yards and a touchdown against Purdue. Concerns over an absent Blake Corum have certainly been quelled by those recent performances from Edwards.
TCU is going to need Duggan to continue his stellar play under center and keep the ball in the hands of his offense. The Horned Frogs are also going to need running back Kendre Miller to successfully move the ball down field against this Michigan defense. No guarantees there, in either scenario.
Fiesta Bowl Best Bets: Michigan -7.5 and UNDER 58.5 on FanDuel Sportsbook
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TCU vs. Michigan Prediction for the Fiesta Bowl
In Michigan's two biggest games of the regular season, they held the then-No. 10 Penn State Nittany Lions to just 268 total yards in a 41-17 victory and picked up two fourth-quarter interceptions off Heisman Trophy finalist C.J. Stroud in a 45-23 win over the Ohio State Buckeyes. On the other end of this matchup, TCU allowed over 200 rushing yards in their biggest game of the season, a Big 12 Championship Game loss to Kansas State. When the stakes are high, the Wolverines show up. The same can't be said for the Horned Frogs.
Donovan Edwards has proved to Jim Harbaugh that he can lead the way for Michigan's backfield, and Edwards should be used heavily in the Fiesta Bowl. Edwards should be able to replicate, or even outperform the stat line posted by Kansas State's Deuce Vaughn against this TCU defense.
Max Duggan will have his hands full on New Year's Eve, and although he hasn't thrown an interception since October 8th against the Kansas Jayhawks, that streak may be coming to an end. The Wolverines' defense gave C.J. Stroud fits, picking him off twice, and intercepted Aidan O'Connell of Purdue two times as well in the Big 10 Championship Game.
Michigan will win the turnover battle and grind down this Horned Frogs' defense with their running game and short-yardage passing attack with quarterback J.J. McCarthy. When this game is over, people will be wondering why TCU was selected for the College Football Playoff over other teams, such as Alabama or Tennessee.
As previously mentioned, the Horned Frogs are going to have to fight tooth and nail to score any points in this one, and I don't think Horned Frogs have teeth or nails. So, I'll say the Wolverines will win the Fiesta Bowl over TCU, 41-10.