📅 Date: Saturday, December, 31
🕚 Game Time: 4 ET
📺 How To Watch: ESPN
It is time to start the college football playoffs as we welcome in the new year. The #3 TCU Horned Frogs will face the #2 Michigan Wolverines at the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona. TCU, a Big 12 team, enters this matchup with a record 12-1. They lost their perfect record to Kansas State in overtime in the Big 12 Championship. Michigan, a Big Ten team, enters this matchup having a perfect record of 13-0 after defeating Purdue in the Big Ten Championship. The kickoff will take place at 4:00 EST.
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The TCU Horned Frogs’ first season under Sonny Dykes has been wild. The team began the season without a quarterback, and Chandler Morris was their starting quarterback to open the season. Max Duggan became the starting quarterback in game 2. He would go on to darn near win the Heisman. TCU defeated the five ranked teams on the way to the regular season Big 12 title. In overtime, the team lost 31-28 to Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game. However, the playoff committee granted the Horned Frogs a reprieve and allowed them to play in college football’s version of the Final Four.
Duggan will be the focal point of TCU’s offense. Duggan passed for 3321 yards with only four interceptions and 30 touchdowns this season. Duggan also ran 619 yards and six touchdowns. Kendre Miller ran back for 1370 yards with a team-record 17 touchdowns. Duggan can throw at five receivers who had at least four touchdowns in the season. Quentin Johnston is his favorite target, with 53 catches totaling over 900 yards and five touchdowns.
TCU will face their 7th-ranked opponent in the season’s final round to try and advance to the title game. TCU is currently ranked 19th in rushing and 40th in passing offense. They also rank 9th in scoring offense in the country. The Horned Frogs rank 66th in run defense and 79th in pass defense. They rank 53rd nationally in scoring defense. TCU’s secondary must make plays when they have a chance, as they will also need to pressure the Michigan quarterback. The Frogs tended to have letdowns during games but were good enough to come back to win those games. Any lulls against Michigan will be the end of TCU’s season; they will have to play a full 60 minutes to win this game..
Only one game is left for the Michigan Wolverines to reach their first National Championship since the inception of the playoff system. The Wolverines’ last national championship was in 1997. This season, the Wolverines won 13 consecutive games as well as a second consecutive Big Ten title. The Wolverines also defeated Ohio State for the second consecutive season. This was the first time since 1999-2000 that the Wolverines had defeated the Buckeyes in consecutive seasons. With an exceptional season, Harbaugh is just a few steps away from a national title.
Two sophomores will lead Michigan’s offense, quarterback J.J. McCarthy and running back Donovan Edwards. After the team’s first game, McCarthy was appointed full-time to replace Cade McNamara. He has had an almost flawless season. This season, he has thrown for 2376 yards to go with just three interceptions and 20 touchdowns. He also ran for 254 yards, and four touchdowns. Blake Corum, who ran for 1463 yards with 18 touchdowns, occupied the running back position almost all season. He was injured in the Ohio State game, and will not be able to play for this matchup. Edwards will take his place. Edwards has rushed 872 yards and seven touchdowns, including two touchdowns against Ohio State. Five Wolverines receivers have at least three touchdowns, with Ronnie Bell being the most dynamic player on the team. Michigan’s leading receiver, he has 56 catches.
The Wolverines’ defensive front is led by Mike Morris, who is back. The former injured lineman appears to be on track for the Fiesta Bowl, which will strengthen Michigan’s defensive front. Morris is the leader of the defense. Rod Moore and Michael Barrett have combined for five interceptions. This season, the Wolverines secondary has been solid. Senior Mike Sainristil has made the transition from wide receiver into cornerback almost seamless and has provided another weapon for the Wolverines in the secondary.
TCU was one of the most positive stories in college football, but it will be over this weekend. Michigan wants to run and pound the ball to set up the pass, while the Horned Frogs prefer to throw the ball and run to keep the defense honest. In terms of mobility, the Wolverines will be up against a much more mobile quarterback than they faced in the Big Ten. The Wolverines have done a great job protecting the edge, and Morris’ return should only add to that. Duggan is only averaging just 3.4 yards per carry despite all his achievements. To set up McCarthy’s play, Michigan will be pounding the TCU rush defense which is 66th rank. McCarthy completed six touchdown passes in his last two games.
This game will ultimately come down to Michigan’s control of the point of attack. The Wolverines have an offensive line that is strong on the ground and a defensive line that can put pressure on the quarterback. The Wolverines will take a lead into halftime and dominate the clock to wear down the Horned Frogs in the second half. Power will prevail in a game that will see Michigan slowly pull away in the second half.
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If you are betting on the Wolverines to cover, the payoff will be solid, not great, and I think the Wolverines will cover this game. For example, a few days before the game, the odds are averaging -110 if you are betting on the Wolverines to cover. If you bet 100 on the Wolverines -7.5, the payout would be around 91 dollars, which means you would get back the 100 you bet and the other 91 for winning the bet.
We’ve highlighted some favorite college football player prop bets for TCU players for Week 18, looking at profitable historical betting trends:
Top NCAAF player prop bets for Michigan players for Week 18, looking at profitable historical betting trends:
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