TCU vs Michigan CFP Semifinal Predictions, Best Bets & Picks
Dan Kilbridge | 5 mins
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Michigan is back in the College Football Playoff for the second year in a row after proving that 2021 was no fluke. The Wolverines ran the table and thumped Ohio State again, inching closer to the top of the mountain. And they have a much more favorable semifinal matchup this time around as Michigan takes on TCU at State Farm Stadium in Glendale in the Fiesta Bowl.
The Horned Frogs earned their way here by going 12-0 in the regular season. That was enough for the committee to overlook a 31-28 overtime loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 title game and get TCU into the CFP for the first time.
The winner will advance to face either Georgia or Ohio State in the title game, guaranteeing some new blood in the national championship.
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Michigan is favored by more than a touchdown on college football betting sites after a second straight blowout win in the Big Ten title game, where the Wolverines earned a second straight conference championship with a 43-22 victory over Purdue.
Very few are picking TCU on betting apps to win the game, but the Horned Frogs have flown under the radar and answered the doubters all season. We’ll see if they have one more upset in the tank.
TCU vs Michigan Moneyline Prediction
The Wolverines are a hearty favorite to win the ball game at -305 according to the latest college football lines. TCU is clocking in as a +255 underdog with a chance at the biggest win in program history. That’s a big number for a team that didn’t lose once in the regular season, and they answered the bell in a similar spot in an early-November game with Texas.
The Horned Frogs were +250 underdogs and outlasted the Longhorns in a 17-10 win. This is a different type of matchup, one in which the margin for error is very small.
With all due respect, this is as good a matchup as Michigan could have hoped for. TCU wins with discipline and balance, grinding away at opponents. The Wolverines do the same thing with more push on the line and more skill in the backfield. We’ll take Michigan on the moneyline at -305.
TCU vs Michigan Point Spread Prediction
Michigan is always a popular bet on sports betting apps and it’s no surprise to see the Wolverines as -8 favorites for the CFP semifinal matchup. But TCU has been in this position many times before.
Only five teams fared better against the spread than TCU this year. The Horned Frogs went 9-3-1 ATS as bettors were slow to catch on to their Big 12 run. They were underdogs twice and won both games outright, knocking off Oklahoma and Texas.
Our No. 1 concern with the Horned Frogs in this matchup is rushing defense. Opponents have averaged at least 4.7 yards per carry in four of the last five games and both Baylor and Kansas State rushed for 200-plus. That’s a big problem against these Wolverines, who have surpassed 200 rushing yards in nine of 13 games.
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This leads to the age-old dilemma of whether to stack the box and dare quarterback J.J. McCarthy to beat you with his arm, or stick to the basics and try to win individual battles. TCU will not win the majority of those battles. The only option is to pay extra attention up front and hope the defensive backs are up for the challenge.
But we saw what McCarthy did against Ohio State, hitting several explosive plays downfield for 263 passing yards and three touchdowns. He might not be good enough to lead the Wolverines past a top-ranked Georgia defense in a hypothetical championship matchup, but he’s enough of a passing threat that Michigan should keep the TCU defense guessing all day.
We’re on Michigan -8.
TCU vs Michigan Over/Under Prediction
These are two strong defensive teams, so a total approaching 60 speaks to just how balanced and productive they are on offense as well. Oddsmakers have it right around 58.5 for the 4 p.m. New Year’s Eve kickoff.
As much as we like the Wolverines to get it done, TCU has the superior quarterback in Max Duggan. He passed for 3,321 yards, 30 touchdowns and just four interceptions on the year, finishing second in the Heisman Trophy vote behind USC quarterback Caleb Williams.
As good as Michigan was in the secondary for much of the season, they did give up 349 passing yards against the Buckeyes and 366 yards the following week against the Boilermakers. It obviously didn’t matter, but Duggan will see plenty of opportunities on film.
We fully expect TCU to start strong and keep things interesting for at least a half, if not more. Michigan will ultimately grind the Horned Frogs down for a cover, but not before TCU contributes enough to send this total Over 58.5.