TCU Vs. Michigan: Prediction, Picks, Odds For Fiesta Bowl (12/31/22)

The semifinal playoff matchups are finally here, and we kick off the day with the Wolverines taking on the Horned Frogs. While Michigan had playoff hopes from the start, fielding a very experienced unit that mimicked the identity of last year’s success, TCU has been more of a welcoming surprise after an offseason of changes in the coaching staff. Can the Horned Frogs continue their magical season with a win over Michigan?

TCU Vs. Michigan Odds

Oddsmakers don’t believe so as they opened the Wolverines as a -9.5 favorite. Bettors were quick to back the Horned Frogs, taking them down to as low as +7.5. This came as a bit of a surprise as TCU’s success relied on a lot of luck and fourth quarter comebacks, but they still deserved a playoff spot after a 12-1 season. They can silence the doubters with a massive win on the biggest stage against the Wolverines.

As for the total, points are expected to be scored in a flash on both ends as oddsmakers opened the total as high as 60.5. Bettors think elsewise, taking the under down to as low as 58.5 in some shops. This is expected as Michigan’s defense plays at a level that TCU has not faced against yet, let alone anything near their level of production.

TCU Vs. Michigan Prediction & Pick

The Pick: Buy Michigan down to -7

With that said, I will back Michigan on the number. This comes in a rare instance as I bought a 7.5 down to -7 in order to secure a key number. While I normally don’t advocate for buying numbers, this is an instance where I did for added security. Be sure to shop around as different books offer different prices when it comes to buying numbers. In this case, I bought a -7 at -120 and that is as high as I would take it.

It pains me to say it as Michigan’s biggest hater, but the Wolverines should have little issue taking care of the Horned Frogs. While TCU’s season has been ultra successful and they deserve all the credit for making it thus far, their magical run is going to come to an end when they go against one of the best defenses in the league.

TCU’s success has been on the revitalization of their offense under new head coach Sonny Dykes, shifting more into an air raid type approach that relied on Explosiveness to keep defenses reeling. That offensive identity will be hard pressed to find success against Michigan’s defense, a unit that ranks top-15 in Def Explosiveness and one of the best open field tackling units per PFF.

Not only will Michigan completely shut down the pass, but the Horned Frogs will struggle to find success on the ground as well. Michigan’s defense finished the season top-10 in Def Rush Success as well as top-20 in Def Rush Explosiveness.

The ground game was never TCU’s plan of attack for down field success, but its production did see an uptick in usage when in the red zone. Kendre Miller was heavily featured to finish out drives, ending the season with 17 rushing touchdowns. If TCU wants to generate the upset, he will need to find a way to crack Michigan’s Finishing Drives defense. A metric that is near one of the best in the nation.

TCU Vs. Michigan Key Matchups

Can Michigan’s offense find success without Blake Corum?

Donovan Edwards vs TCU rush defense

The injury news of Blake Corum rocked the state of Michigan after it was confirmed that he would miss the postseason with season ending surgery. While most teams would severely falter after losing a key producer to this success, Michigan’s offensive success should not skip a beat with Donovan Edwards commanding more of a usage in Corum’s absence.

While it’s mind boggling to say out loud, Donovan Edwards has actually been more productive for the Michigan Wolverines per PFF by bringing in a more dynamic backfield presence. Not only a great rusher in his own right, but Edwards brings a pass catching dynamic as well.

He will be poised for a big outing as TCU has struggled against the rush all season. The Horned Frogs defense took a major identity change by implementing the 3-3-5, but have struggled to contain rush success by ranking 80th in Def Rush Success Rate. Especially when runners are capable of getting to the second level, ranking 90th in Def Standard Down Explosiveness.

Verdict

With clear advantages on both sides of the ball, I will buy Michigan down to -7 for added security in what should be an easy win for the Wolverines.

Kody is a sports betting writer here at Lineups. He specializes in college sports as well as the NFL and NBA. He won’t quit believing in the Lions Super Bowl chances even when they are eliminated.

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