Michigan is two wins away from putting itself back on top of the college football world.
The No. 2 Wolverines play No. 3 TCU at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Fiesta Bowl, the first of two College Football Playoff semifinals.
No. 1 Georgia plays No. 4 Ohio State in the Peach Bowl at 8 p.m. Saturday in the second semifinal, with the winners meeting on Jan. 9 to decide the national champion.
It would be the first national title for Michigan since 1997. We did the math, and that’s 25 years ago. So, to celebrate the Wolverines best chance to win it all since then, we’re looking at 25 facts about Michigan, TCU and their matchup.
That includes some betting stats that Michigan sportsbooks have no doubt taken into consideration in setting the lines.
Five facts about the Fiesta Bowl matchup between Michigan and TCU
Michigan enters the College Football Playoff semifinal against TCU favored by a little more than a touchdown. Here are some key matchup numbers for the game.
- There are a lot of computer models available nowadays, but one of the longest running — and publicly available — has Michigan winning and covering. FEI projects Michigan to win 36.2-27.
- An early-season concern for Michigan was converting redzone opportunities into touchdowns. Fortunately for the Wolverines, TCU is a bottom-half team when it comes to stopping opponents inside the 20. The Horned Frogs have allowed opponents to score on 84.4% of their redzone trips, which is tied for 76th nationally. They’ve allowed 28 touchdowns and 10 field goals in 45 redzone opportunities.
- TCU quarterback Max Duggan is a threat to run when things break down in protection, and part of the reason he’s been so successful at it is the big plays he’s created through the air. Duggan is averaging 13.9 yards per completion this season, which is 11th best in the country.
- Jim Harbaugh isn’t afraid to leave his offense on the field on fourth down, and the Wolverines are best in the country at converting (89.5%). TCU, meanwhile, has had opponents go for it on fourth down 39 times this season, which is second most in the nation. About half of those have been converted.
- Don’t expect many penalty flags to be thrown in the Fiesta Bowl, as Michigan and TCU are among the two least penalized teams in the country. Michigan averages 4.08 penalties per game, which is eighth in the nation. TCU averages 4.62, which is 19th.
Five betting facts about No. 3 TCU
The Horned Frogs are making their first appearance in the College Football Playoff, getting the nod despite losing the Big 12 Championship game against Kansas State.
Those are all technically facts, but they don’t count toward our number. Consider them bonus facts. Now, here are the ones you should care about if you’re betting on college football:
- TCU finished the season 9-3-1 against the spread. All three losses against the number came when the Horned Frogs were listed as less than a touchdown favorite, including a 29-28 win against Baylor that managed to not cover -1.5.
- Only four of TCU’s 13 games had a line of greater than one score, and two of those came in the first two weeks of the season. The two biggest spreads of TCU’s Big 12 season were -9.5 against Iowa State, which it covered easily, and -9 against Texas Tech, a game the Horned Frogs won by 10.
- The Horned Frogs were underdogs three times this season, covering and winning outright twice. TCU was a 1-point underdog in the Big 12 Championship. It was a 7.5-point dog against Texas and a 5-point dog against Oklahoma — both wins.
- TCU was known for close games, but it scored to secure a cover or push in the final 2 minutes just twice. One of those was a late TD against Kansas that broke a tie and pushed TCU -7. The other, however, was a TD with 20 seconds left to go up 10 against West Virginia. The spread was TCU -7.
- Overs were 7-6 in TCU’s games this season, but the numbers were pretty high all year. The total was 70 or higher five times, and the over hit in four of those games. The fifth game — a 38-31 win against Kansas — nearly hit 70.5.
Five fun facts about CFP semifinalist TCU
Here are some non-betting related facts about the Horned Frogs.
- TCU played six games against teams who were ranked in the top 25 at the time of their matchup, going 5-1. Just two of those opponents remain in the top 25 now, however: No. 9 Kansas State and No. 20 Texas. The Horned Frogs were 2-1 in those games.
- Cornerback Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s best defensive back. He had three interceptions and 11 passes defensed during the season, allowing just a 38.9 passer rating when targeted.
- Receiver Quentin Johnston won’t be the best receiver Michigan has seen this year — that honor goes to Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. — but he is a projected first-round pick. He’s 6-foot-4, 210 pounds with reported 4.4 speed, and has 903 yards receiving on 53 catches.
- While Johnston is Duggan’s favorite receiver, the TCU quarterback has spread the ball around quite a bit this season. His 30 touchdown passes have gone to 10 different receivers.
- Sonny Dykes is in his first season as head coach at TCU, and becomes the third coach to make the CFP in Year 1. The others — Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma and Ryan Day at Ohio State — lost in the semifinals.
Five betting facts about No. 2 Michigan
Michigan is making its second straight appearance in the College Football Playoff, after going 13-0 with a win against Purdue in the Big Ten Championship.
Here’s how the season went for those betting on Michigan football:
- Michigan was 8-4-1 against the spread this season, but faced some massive numbers. The Wolverines were favored in 12 games, and only the Penn State game featured a single-digit spread (7). Good news for Michigan fans, that spread was closest to the current number on the Fiesta Bowl (Michigan ), and Michigan won that game in a blowout.
- Michigan was favored by three touchdowns or more seven times this season, and was 4-2-1 in those games. Michigan was a combined -232 in those games, and its total margin of victory was 258.
- Ohio State was the only team to be favored against Michigan this season, at -9. That line moved toward the Buckeyes as kickoff got closer and it was essentially confirmed that Blake Corum wouldn’t be playing. Michigan essentially reverse covered the line, twice, winning by 22.
- The under was 8-5 in Michigan’s games this season, and in several games the Wolverines did most all of the work to get near the total. Michigan hit the total on its own twice: a 59-0 win against UConn (58.5) and a 52-17 win against Rutgers (44.5). It drug its opponent over the line in the other three: 43-22 (54) against Purdue, 45-23 (56.5) against Ohio State and 41-17 (48.5) against Penn State.
- So few of Michigan’s games were actually close this season, but it did have some late-game drama when it came to covers. A field goal with just over a minute to play pushed the Nebraska line, while a touchdown in the final two minutes of the Big Ten Championship provided the cover in a game that was already decided.
Five fun facts about CFP semifinalist Michigan
If you’re reading this, there’s a decent chance you already know at least a little bit about Michigan football. But here a few facts about the Wolverines to consider.
- Michigan joins Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia and Ohio State as the only teams to qualify for the Playoff in back to back years. Michigan is the first of that group to accomplish it ranked No. 2 in both years.
- Michigan running back Donovan Edwards rushed for 401 yards in the last two games of the season, the only two where he received the bulk of the carries for the Wolverines. Had he maintained that over the entire season, he would have gained 2,606 yards, which would have been second most all-time to Barry Sanders‘ 2,628 in 1988.
- Defensive end Mike Morris leads the team in sacks with seven. His sister, Milan Bolden-Morris, is a graduate assistant on the team. She’s the first female grad assistant at a Power 5 school.
- Michigan played two teams that were ranked — both at the time they played and now. But they won those two games by a combined 46 points.
- About one third of Michigan’s roster (37 players) are from in state. That makes sense. The Wolverines have one odd pipeline, though: Germany. The roster features two German players — tight end Marlin Klein and linebacker Julius Welschof.