Fiesta Bowl Preview: Can TCU’s defense contain Michigan’s attack? | College Football Enquirer
Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel, and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde and Ross Dellenger discuss the College Football Playoff semifinal Fiesta Bowl matchup between the TCU Horned Frogs and the Michigan Wolverines, and debate if the Horned Frogs defense has a chance to contain the potent Michigan rushing attack.
DAN WETZEL: Harbaugh isn't gonna be like, oh this is working, but let's try to air it out. No, it's like, OK, stop us. The other one is obviously TCU and Michigan. That'll be at 4:00 earlier in the day on New Year's Eve out in Arizona. I don't know what-- I look at this game as, you know, Michigan's in a different spot this year than they were a year ago. They were really happy to make the playoffs last year, and they were staring at this double gauntlet of, like, here's Georgia. Then you get Alabama probably.
I know a lot of Michigan fans who are just-- they've already booked their flights and their hotels and everything for LA. I know that's not the program. They're taking it seriously. But totally different mentality here. Obviously they should be favored. This will be the best team TCU's played. It's the best defense TCU has played, and all of that. And I guess the question's just basically can the Horned Frogs put together this dream against a much better defense and a much better rounded team of Michigan. Michigan's a 7 and 1/2 point favorite.
Pat, what are your thoughts on this?
PAT FORDE: Yeah, I think TCU's up against it. And I think the one weak link there is just their defense. They have a very good offense. They're well schemed. They've got a really good quarterback, a really good running back, some good receivers, but I just think defensively they're gonna have a tough time handling what Michigan brings to the table, you know, I think. We saw Kansas State be able to run the ball, move the ball, and Michigan's offense is better than Kansas State. Several people have been able to move the ball against TCU. So, I think physically it's going to be a tough match-up for them.
Donovan Edwards has been on fire the last two games-- 400 yards rushing. If Jim Harbaugh can go in and say, look, we play our bread and butter football, and you have success-- TCU's got to pull some rabbits out of the hat. And I think if this game starts unfolding that way, it could snowball to a degree.
Now TCU's defense has given up big plays. They give up, I think, over 5 yards per carry. Their wide receiver Quentin Johnston, who's excellent-- but I'm telling you, the freshman DB, Will Johnson for Michigan is really coming on. He's played really well as the season's gone on. 6'2", 194-- he's big and long, like Quentin Johnston. I think he'll be able to match up well and have a good game. Not saying he's going to be covering him solo a bunch, but that's another factor, as Michigan's just playing at a peak level right now. And that's trouble for TCU.
ROSS DELLENGER: Yeah, TCU's defense really is-- this doesn't seem like a great match-up. Like you said they're giving up, like, over 25 points a game. There was a stretch this year, like a five game stretch, I think, where four of the five games they gave up more than 31 points-- and 40 points here and there. I don't like the match-up at all-- playing such a physical team in Michigan that also can hit you deep.
TCU feels like a team that probably should have more than one loss. I think it's six games-- they trailed by double digits in six games this year in the second half, and came back to win them all. And kudos there, but at some point that luck does kind of run out, and it did in their last game against Kansas State. And yeah, this just doesn't feel like too competitive of a match-up for the Horned Frogs. And Michigan just seems, again, just like Georgia, this Michigan team feels better offensively-- like better than last year's team and more complete.
DAN WETZEL: Yeah, Michigan's problem is depth, I mean like, losing Blake Corum hurts. And can Edwards be a feature back? He's better when he's, you know, the second back and catching balls and stuff like that. But you got Edwards doing that. McCarthy played a little better against Ohio State-- maybe the Bowl practices he keeps building. The receiving corps have been somewhat of a disappointment this year, but there's some talent there. But I mean, again, like, their defense is so good. Only one team-- I said TCU is averaging 25 allowed a game. Only Maryland got over 25 against Michigan. And really that game and the Illinois game are really the only, like, gotta make plays in the fourth.
We'll know really quick if this game is over. If Michigan gets the ball and just grinds out like a seven minute drive in the first half, the game is over. It'll remind me of that Alabama-Notre Dame game in the BCS title game. It's like two plays in, you're like game over. I mean like, if they just dominate the offensive line like that, it's over. Because I remember that you're like, Harbaugh isn't going to be like, oh this is working, but let's try to air it out. No, it's like, OK, stop us. I dare you. And if you can't-- and we're going to keep hitting you, and hitting you, and hitting you. And we got more depth and more players and all that. So we're all picking Michigan here.
- Yup. Michigan win and cover.