TCU Wins Fiesta Bowl Over Michigan: Reaction, Analysis, 5 Thoughts

TCU beat Michigan to win the Fiesta Bowl. Five thoughts and analysis of the game, and what it all means.

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TCU beat Michigan 51-45: Fiesta Bowl 5 Things That Matter

Fiesta Bowl College Football Playoff 5 Thoughts 
4. Michigan got hosed on 2 calls, but …
3. TCU’s defensive front held up
2. The first College Football Playoff shocker
1. TC-freaking-U is in CFP National Championship
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5. Michigan was off from the start

Donovan Edwards ripped off a 54-yard run, and it looked like it was over eight seconds in.

The Michigan offensive line was going to dominate, the defense that held up all season long would take care of business, and yawn, it was going to be another methodical win by the undefeated Big Ten champion.

And then Michigan got cute.

Run, penalty, run, run, fourth and goal from the 2 – the reasonably worst thing that could happen was to get stuffed and pin TCU deep. Instead, the offense tried a Philly Special that was sniffed out immediately, went nowhere, and TCU got the ball on its ten.

The Horned Frogs didn’t do anything and had to punt, but the stop set the tone. Michigan didn’t have the ability to power away on the TCU defensive front, and the the tough guy ability that was there all season long never took over.

Michigan came into this No. 3 in the nation against the run. It gave up 263 yards.

It was third in the nation in total defense allowing 277 yards per game. It gave up 488.

It led the Big Ten and was fourth in the nation in rushing averaging 243 yards per game. It came up with 186, threw the ball 35 times, and was just … off.

It’s like the time off hurt the team – it disturbed the groove it was in.

Fiesta Bowl College Football Playoff 5 Thoughts 
5; Michigan was off from the start
4. Michigan got hosed on 2 calls, but …
3. TCU’s defensive front held up
2. The first College Football Playoff shocker
1. TC-freaking-U is in CFP National Championship 

NEXT: Michigan got hosed on two huge calls, but …

4. Michigan got hosed on two huge calls, but …

Michigan didn’t lose because of the two massive whiffs by the officials.

That was targeting … maybe.

It wasn’t a sure thing that Michigan was going to roll down the field in 27 seconds and win the game at the end, but it would’ve at least stayed alive after TCU had a questionable hit to end Michigan’s desperation final fourth down play.

But that wasn’t the real issue.

Down 14-3, JJ McCarthy hit Roman Wilson for what appeared to be a touchdown – he bobbled it, caught it, and fell into the end zone for a score. Instead, replay screwed up and called him down at the 1, Michigan fumbled away the next play, and TCU survived the moment instead of being up only 14-10.

But that was only a set back.

There were 96 points in the game, both teams had plenty of chances to make plays to change up the narrative, and in the end, Michigan lost because the defense couldn’t come up with a meaningful stop, the offensive line had its worst game of the season, and …

Those two calls didn’t help. It also didn’t help that …

Fiesta Bowl College Football Playoff 5 Thoughts 
5; Michigan was off from the start
4. Michigan got hosed on 2 calls, but …
3. TCU’s defensive front held up
2. The first College Football Playoff shocker
1. TC-freaking-U is in CFP National Championship 

NEXT: TCU’s defensive front held up

3. TCU’s defensive front held up

The Michigan offensive line was the best in the country, and the team didn’t follow the playbook when it came to how this thing worked all year long.

Get through the first half, keep grinding, maybe be behind or maybe not, and then everything starts to break wide open in the second half. That’s how Michigan beat teams time and time and time again.

But the problems on defense forced Michigan to change up its game plan a bit, there was too much panicking with big downfield shots – it was like the Wolverine coaching staff tried to score 20 points with every play – and it all helped give the TCU defensive front a little bit of a break.

TCU’s Dylan Horton had a massive game with four sacks and four of the team’s 13 tackles for loss on a line that kept Michigan from taking over up front.

How many tackles for loss did the Wolverine allow per game this year? 4.31. How many sacks per game did it give up? One.

Of course, neither defense did anything amazing in this, and it’s not like the Horned Frogs were a brick wall. But Michigan was supposed to win this because of its huge advantage up front, and it didn’t.

Fiesta Bowl College Football Playoff 5 Thoughts 
5; Michigan was off from the start
4. Michigan got hosed on 2 calls, but …
3. TCU’s defensive front held up
2. The first College Football Playoff shocker
1. TC-freaking-U is in CFP National Championship 

NEXT: We have the first crazy College Football Playoff shocker

2. We have the first crazy College Football Playoff shocker

The first eight years of the College Football Playoff were totally chalk.

Beyond that, the conference championships have gone to form over the eight seasons. Maybe there was a mild Pac-12 upset here, or a Big 12 Championship win there, but form almost always held.

A College Football Playoff upset was when Clemson beat Alabama, or Alabama beat Clemson, or Ohio State beat Clemson, or … something like that.

Cincinnati? Nope.

Notre Dame? It wasn’t even close in its two tries. Michigan State and Washington came in and was promptly shown the door.

TCU? It was supposed to lose to big, bad Michigan. It was the program that might have been left out if Clemson had just one loss and/or if USC won the Pac-12 Championship. It was the kid that got the seat at the adult table, and …

It won. The supposedly lesser team doesn’t win in meaningful games with everyone fully focused and trying. That’s not how that works – that’s for the NCAA basketball tournament and the first round of the NHL playoffs.

And with this win, TCU does two big things. 1) It shows it’s possible that the out-of-the-blue upstart can win one of these games, and 2) it paves the way for the expanded College Football Playoff to potentially be a lot more interesting.

The narrative that adding more playoff games would automatically lead to more blowouts and more mismatches now doesn’t work.

TCU paved the way for what’s possible.

Yeah, really …

Fiesta Bowl College Football Playoff 5 Thoughts 
5; Michigan was off from the start
4. Michigan got hosed on 2 calls, but …
3. TCU’s defensive front held up
2. The first College Football Playoff shocker
1. TC-freaking-U is in CFP National Championship 

NEXT: Freaking TCU is in the College Football Playoff National Championship

1. Freaking TCU is in the College Football Playoff National Championship

Hand raised – I thought TCU was going to lose to Colorado in the season opener. Now it might win the national championship – at least it has a shot.

TCU is in the College Football Playoff National Championship. Not Oklahoma, and not Texas. TC-freaking-U is the first Big 12 team to get on the biggest stage.

Notre Dame hasn’t been able to get there. USC, Penn State, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Florida haven’t been able to make the four team tournament, much less the title game.

TCU. It went 5-7 in two of the last four seasons and had three losing campaigns in the previous six.

TCU. It was in the Mountain West 11 years ago, Conference USA in 2004, and the WAC (sky point) in 2002.

TCU. The school with an enrollment of around 10,000 in a football-mad state ruled by Texas and Texas A&M.

And now it has a shot. No one’s going to pick TCU to win, but it’s got speed, it has the quarterback in Max Duggan, and it has the chance to win its second universally acknowledged national title – 1938 being the first.

Fiesta Bowl College Football Playoff 5 Thoughts 
5; Michigan was off from the start
4. Michigan got hosed on 2 calls, but …
3. TCU’s defensive front held up
2. The first College Football Playoff shocker
1. TC-freaking-U is in CFP National Championship 

Story originally appeared on College Football News