Free Press sports writers share their predictions for the Big Ten title game Saturday between Michigan football and TCU at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona (4 p.m., ESPN):
J.J. McCarthy has seven touchdowns in the past two games and is playing his best ball of the year. Donovan Edwards has run for 401 yards and three scores in his two games as a starter. The defense has allowed just one of the last eight teams to score a touchdown in the second half. TCU quarterback Max Duggan is a warrior and easy to root for, but this will likely follow a similar formula — close early, before the Wolverines impose their will on the ground and advance to the national championship game. The pick: Michigan 38, TCU 23.
REMEMBERING THE PAST:Michigan carrying the memory of last year's College Football Playoff loss vs. TCU
Congrats to the Horned Frogs on becoming the first non-Oklahoma team from the Big 12 to make the College Football Playoff and congrats to the CFP committee for resisting every urge to put another SEC team in the playoff. But TCU isn’t in the same class as Michigan and this game won’t be that close. Duggan is a tough, productive and careful quarterback and the offense is capable of big plays with big receiver Quentin Johnston, but the Wolverines have too much fire power on both sides of the ball and have become a great closing team in the second half. The pick: Michigan 36, TCU 21.
Jim Harbaugh storybook revival continues in the Arizona desert, where he leads the Wolverines to the doorstep of a national championship. Against the Horned Frogs, Michigan uses its brawn to power its way to its 14th victory and set the stage for a Hollywood ending in Los Angeles. The pick: Michigan 37, TCU 24.
If history is any indication, it’s going to be close in the first half. Enough to make Wolverines fans get nervous. Shoot, TCU might even lead it at some point. And TCU will be able to throw the ball some. But in the second half, the Wolverines will wear down TCU. And Edwards is going to rip off a long run. Because that’s what he does. The pick: Michigan 35, TCU 20.
Duggan is a big, tough quarterback. Who is not like any other in the Big Ten and he will keep this a game for a while. But the Horned Frogs have not seen a defense like Michigan’s and McCarthy and Edwards are not gonna lose in the semifinals for a second year in a row. The pick: Michigan 34, TCU 23.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan vs. TCU in Fiesta Bowl: College Football Playoff predictions